Wednesday, May 4, 2016

NOAA Marine Life Visits Steward!

Over the past couple of months I have worked closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the team at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office in Gloucester (where Mr. Ford works) to coordinate a fun program to bring to the second graders at Steward School. This morning, students had the opportunity to explore more about ocean life and visit five hands-on stations.

Edith Carson, NOAA biologist, introduces her team and today's activities. Behind Mrs. Carson is an inflatable life-sized right whale calf.
Students were extremely engaged by the interactive stations that focused on the different life cycles, habitats, and adaptations of familiar and unfamiliar ocean creatures. 

Here are some snapshots from our fun morning:

Students experimented using their sense of smell at the Sturgeon Station. Sturgeon use their sense of smell to locate and return to their old spawning ground each year.

In the next station, children got to listen to whales and dolphins communicate through echolocation. Students then played a game and guessed which ocean creature they heard. They each received a fun whale and porpoise pamphlet to take home as well!

At the turtle station, students learned about the difference between land and sea turtles. Did you know they have different ways to use their protective shell to defend themselves? Ask your child about it! The children also learned that turtles only use their mouths to eat. They practiced pinching different food items with different kinds of pinchers, just like the different turtles use their unique mouths to eat different foods. Students practiced acting as loggerheads, leatherbacks and Kemp's ridley turtles using different instruments. Turtles have many unique adaptations!

After our visit early this week by Mrs. McInnis, students could easy tell the scientist at the whale station all about toothed and baleen whales! They each got to experiment eating like a toothed and baleen whale using different tools. Ask your child which they thought was easier!

 In the last station, students got to touch some fish that are local to our area in the northwest Atlantic. We learned about the anatomy of popular fish such as haddock and bluefish, and how special features on their body are used for protection! Students then got to see a fish dissection! Mr. Gilbert took out the ear bone (otolith) of a flounder and showed the kids how scientists use this to collect information on the age of each fish.

We loved having NOAA visit us this year! They brought incredible artifacts and hands-on experiments to help teach the children about the ocean life that lives in their area. Each student came home today with a number of fun bookmarks, stickers, and activities to show you at home! We look forward to learning more on our field trip next week to Gloucester!

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