Ask most children what they want to be when they grow up and most will give a very general job title – lawyer, football player, scientist. Few will ever be as specific as marine biologist and if they are, teachers often find it challenging to nurture this passion. If your kids or students show an interest in the briny deep, you might want to look into visiting the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. The Aquarium believes that all children should have the opportunity to explore their interest in the underwater world and its learning programs aim to provide that through inquiry-based learning and hands-on experiences.
The Aquarium’s K-12 programs are available for free throughout the academic year to all K-12 schools in the Bay Area. Teachers can either choose to carry out a self-guided or guided tour – the self-guided tours allow teachers the option of spending as much time with their group in each exhibition as they choose, but a guided tour with an aquarium staff member is the key to getting kids excited about the life around them.
The guided tours are available as part of the K-12 classroom program which are designed with different grade levels in mind. Kindergarten classes combine simple educational techniques with detailed information about the fish of the Bay while early elementary through middle school classes range from hands-on experiences and activities with the wildlife in the Bay, to scientific discovery through the use of hydrology. The focus for high school students is exploring what goes on behind the scenes at the Aquarium, including uncovering the routes in to a career as a marine biologist.
All classes will learn about the conservation and research projects at the Aquarium and how they affect the ecological health of the Bay. Classes provided as part of the K-12 program meet California State Science and Career Technical Education Standards at their varying grade levels.
So why is all of this important? For a start, you can’t replicate these experiences in a classroom: some of the samples offered for scientific study in the middle school classes would be unavailable for use in the classroom and the hands-on experience with the living creatures of the rock pools is invaluable to budding marine biologists. After all, you can’t have show and tell with a live manta ray.
Secondly, receiving lessons from experts in the field of aquatic biology allows children to ask questions freely and receive knowledgeable responses that curriculum guides and teachers may not be able to provide. Lastly, children who could have a future as a marine biologist get a chance to see their dream job in action and work out if this role really is for them.
Although the Aquarium of the Bay offers these experiences for free to Bay Area schools, it also admits classes from outside the area with a reservation, so whether you’re in the Bay Area or not there really is no reason not to open your students’ minds with an excursion here.
Teaching The Kids – From The Aquarium Of The Bay Web Site
Kids In Tunnels – From The Aquarium Of The Bay Web Site
A Flying Batray From The Aquarium Of The Bay Web Site
Aquarium Of The Bay Thumbnail – Wikimedia GNU Free Documentation License – Taken by John O’Neill
Guest Author Bio
Ben Simmon writes on a variety of topics including health and fitness, well being as well as technology and family adventures.
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