Watersheds, estuaries, erosion, nutrient loading and runoff are among the concepts that Billy B. presents as he reveals the ways of the bay. He presents a definition of, the importance of, the abundance of life in and the human connection to the “Bay” environment in the school’s watershed. For the older students Billy B. will present a more detailed picture, with richer vocabulary, of the scientific concepts underlying the shows theme. Commissioned and approved by the France and Merrick Foundations.
In the version of this show that is directed to the younger students ( K to second grade ) Billy starts by discussing the difference between salt and fresh water, how all clouds are made of fresh water, how all rain is fresh water and how water always flows to the lowest place. For many students in this country, that lowest place is a bay. He then defines, using audience participatory body gestures and sound effects, what a bay is. In a similar style, he defines what a watershed is. He then sings, instructing and leading the students, “It Happened Today, in Everyone’s Bay”, accompanying himself on the guitar. He goes through each song in a stop and start fashion explaining vocabulary, assigning audience participation activities, and doing short comedy routines aimed at achieving a better understanding, in the minds of his audience, of the scientific concepts that anchor the lyrics. Using the same style of call and response and audience participatory activities he goes through “The Estuary”, “That’s Runoff Man”, and “Erosion” songs. He suggests a positive action, planting trees, that kids can do to help the health of their watershed and their bay. This leads Billy and the audience to do a dance choreographed for “These Trees”, a song about planting trees.
For the older students, third through sixth grade, many of the same concepts are presented in a style suited for their age. An age appropriate version of “The Estuary” is presented, for instance. In this song volunteers become the four major players in the ecosystem of a bay, the nutrients ( dead stuff ), the decomposers, the phytoplankton and the zooplankton. and they dance ( see the video clip below ) , per the choreography Billy teaches them, as Billy sings “The Estuary” while accompanying himself on his guitar. It’s funny, scientifically accurate and fun to watch.
There is always an element of improvisation with Billy’s shows, often inspired by a students’ comment or question or by the news of the day.