Yorktown students get a glimpse of what life is like under the sea
Baltimore aquarium comes to Bowie school with ocean artifacts
Susan Whitney/The Gazette
Students at Yorktown Elementary School in Bowie have spent the entire year studying ocean-themed projects, so when a team of educators from the National Aquarium in Baltimore visited Friday, students were quick to show off their knowledge.
"I know why this is a sponge," said Jordan White, a 5-year-old in the pre-kindergarten program, while grasping at a sea sponge on display. "Because it can squish!"
The aquarium team brought artifacts including dried sea sponges, sharks' teeth, whale vertebrae and live horseshoe crabs for the students to see and touch. The aquarium's Ocean Theme Day is meant to give students a greater understanding of the creatures that inhabit the ocean and their environment, educators and teachers said. Plus, hands-on activities are always quick to win the students over, said parent volunteer Carol Cook.
"It's something they read about in a book, and [today] it's something they can actually see," said Cook, who applied for the Bowie Education Committee grant that paid for the $780 aquarium visit.
Students started the day in an assembly where they measured the lengths of different types of sharks with rope and pieced together the parts of a shark on a student selected to wear a special shark suit. Afterward, classes explored the sea lab set up by the aquarium educators with four hands-on stations where they could learn more about whales, sharks, invertebrates and interact with live animals.
Many students' favorite part of the sea lab was the chance to touch the 10-eyed, 10-legged, tank-like horseshoe crab.
"They are pretty big for a crab," said third-grader Kayla Kelly, 8, of Bowie.
As the students learned about the animals, such as dolphins are a type of whale, they were able to touch and handle artifacts from the animals, like a dolphin skull.
The school picks a theme each year to tie together special projects in every grade level and subject matter, said counselor Judith Goldberg-Strassler. This year's theme was "Under the Sea," and around the school sea life artwork, murals and facts adorned the doors and walls. Many school projects also relate to the ocean or water habitats. Last year, lessons were tailored to meet a rainforest theme.
"We are doing an experiment about evaporation of water right now," explained second-grader Galen Angulo, 8, of Bowie.
Although the classroom experiments are interesting, Galen said they just can't compete with the fun of the sea labs.
"It was more exciting because there were animals," he said.
E-mail Andrea Noble at firstname.lastname@example.org.