5th Grade Day on the Bay

Fifth Grade thoroughly enjoyed their Marine Science Institute field experience last week. Out on the San Francisco Bay, students learned about marine science and teamwork aboard the R.V. Brownlee. 

After a safety briefing, students learned about the estuary and why it makes a perfect nursery for local sea life. Students formed teams to work through three learning stations. At the ichthyology (fish study) station, students used teamwork to deploy a 16-foot net. After trawling it for several minutes, students worked again to haul the net in, and much excitement followed as a baby bat ray splashed them all. Saklan’s compassion was demonstrated in students’ concern at seeing a little blood near the ray’s stinger – the skin here is sensitive and thin, they learned, so that neurotoxins can be released when the ray is in danger; he did get a little scrape in the net, probably from the coral that was also netted. Once the ray was out of the net and in the touchpool, adaptations for habitat and predator/prey relationships were observed (watch out for that stinger!). Students also got to observe and handle a live baby leopard shark, netted earlier in the day, and along with California halibut, starry flounder, and a staghorn sculpin.

At the benthic (estuary floor) ecology station, students dredged sediment samples from the bay floor using a Peterson benthic grab-claw, then washed the mud away to expose native and non-native invertebrates, from bay shrimp, to isopods and clams, which were put into “touch-pool” buckets for students to gently handle, study, and identify. They also made a pledge to the bay, and sealed it by painting a little bay mud on their faces! 

Lastly, at the plankton ecology station, students examined water samples under a video microscope, identifying many zoo- and phytoplankton from single-cell organisms to complex species. 

This field experience brought to life much of the science the fifth graders have been learning this year, centered around Earth’s spheres, hydrology, life science/animal food chains, adaptations, and human impact on the natural world.  Students were engaged, respectful, and hard-working during this hands-on experience.

#SaklanFieldExperience #SaklanHandsOn #SaklanFieldWork

Author: The Saklan School Friday Blog

The Saklan School is a private Pre-K through 8 school located in Moraga, CA. Our mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously.

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