7/1/21

Today students finished and then presented their final projects. While we waited for all students to finish, we played the vocabulary matching game that students created throughout the first two weeks. It featured all the words and definitions learned in our class.

We got to visit another class to see the Summer Academy Presents… performance of a modern version of Cinderella. The students really enjoyed the theatrical experience and we were all impressed by the musical that came together in only 10 days!

On the way back to our room, we stopped to play a relay game with the cards we used to learn the features of each animal classification.

Finally we learned about venomous fish, read about tricky animals, wrote and shared compliments, and cleaned up the classroom.

Today students learned:

  • Chris and Uche learned that the stonefish is venomous.

Thanks for a great class! This was truly a wonderful group of students.

6/30/21

Today we learned about falconry, which is the practice of using a raptor to hunt. It has been used throughout history and across cultures. Yes, you can be a falconer in Minnesota!

Students watched a video about skates and rays and we learned all kinds of neat facts about these shark cousins.

Students then had lots of time to work on their final projects. Most are finished and ready to present tomorrow! As students finished, they played some of our games like “Go Bird!”, a raptor version of Go Fish. Some also watched a Jonathan Bird Blue World video about diving for megalodon teeth.

Today we also played the raptor Jeopardy review game. There were a couple tricky questions, but for the most part students know their stuff!

Another animal of interest was hummingbirds. Students took turns reading facts from a website and we all learned something new about these amazing little creatures! Of course, we had to draw one!

Today students learned:

  • Annabel learned that hummingbirds have to spend most of their time digesting their food
  • Xander learned that the torpedo ray has a vertical tail fin that it uses to swim
  • Charlotte learned that hummingbirds eat more than their own weight each day!
  • Chris learned that rays do not lay eggs but skates do

6/29/21

Happy birthday Tyce!

Today students build a watershed and learned how pollutants travel into the water. They used sprinkles to represent the pollution and enjoyed making it “rain” by spraying water.

We also learned about jellyfish and their super powers. Did you know there is an immortal jellyfish?? Of course, we had to draw them!

Students learned about bees using websites, then made posters to help share facts. Like sharks, bees are often feared because they are misunderstood.

To review all we have learned about sharks we played a Jeopardy-style game. The students knew almost every answer immediately!

Next, students began their final project: to research and present on an animal of their choice. They got a lot accomplished today and will continue working tomorrow.

Finally, we connected via Zoom with Jenn from Ocearch. She talked to us about microplastics: how they get into the ocean and the impact they can have on sharks’ bodies. We also learned about FRED, an ocean cleaning robot that is in development. Tomorrow we will brainstorm ways to use less plastic!

Today students learned:

  • Uche learned that we should not use plastic straws
  • Eddie learned that plastic that is on the road gets washed into the water and then ends up in the ocean
  • Chris learned that there is plastic even in the deep ocean

6/28/21

Today students learned about tonic immobility which can calm a shark. Marine biologists use this when taking samples of smaller sharks. We watched a video where they are able to do this on much larger sharks!

Students then listed reasons why people fear sharks. They picked one common myth about sharks to disprove with a poster or skit. All students chose to make a poster, some on their own and others with friends. Students really showed their creativity today!

Next students read about the Proteus, a still-in-development underwater research station. They also watched a video about the only existing underwater research station: Aquarius Reef Base. Students then designed and presented their own underwater buildings.

We also learned about yellow scorpions and how they have become a dangerous problem in Brazil. Finally, we created surprise folding sharks.

Today students learned:

  • Chris learned that yellow scorpions can survive 400 days without food
  • Annabel learned that there is a sickness if you stay underwater for too long
  • Charlotte learned that scientists use underwater labs

6/25/21

Today we had a video visit with Lisa Crawford, a marine biologist. She talked to us about her studies in shark electrosensitivity reception and toxicology. She also described the process of catching and taking samples safely from sharks.

Students learned about two categories of sharks: angel sharks and carpet sharks. Carpet sharks includes the whale, nurse, zebra and wobbegong sharks. Students really liked the cute epaulette shark that uses its fins to “walk” along the bottom.

Outside we played Owls versus Crows, a tag game. Students were divided into two teams and which team had to chase the other depended on whether the statement was true or false. Once tagged, students switched teams.

We read The Brilliant Deep about Ken Nedimyer’s efforts to regrow and protect coral reefs. Students made connections to the other conservationists we have learned about.

Students learned about the evolution of sharks for the past 400 million years. Sharks are one of the only animals to have survived all 4 mass extinction events on earth! Of course, we also learned about the infamous megalodon.

Finally, students helped create a Venn diagram of sharks and raptors. Turns out they have a lot in common!

Today students learned:

  • Charlotte learned that megalodons were 20 feet longer than a whale shark
  • Xander learned that sharks heal really fast
  • Riley learned that sharks have been around for over 200 million years

6/24/21

Today students learned about threats to sharks and raptors. Sharks are impacted by fishing practices, chemicals in the ocean, and the use of sharks for shark fin soup and medicinal and beauty products. Students learned about Ocearch, an organization that tracks and studies sharks, then explored their shark tracker. They enjoyed finding sharks who had “pinged” recently.

To learn about raptor threats and comebacks, students read articles in small groups, then summarized the important details for the class.

Today’s craft was to create a shark cootie catcher. Instead of fortunes inside, students wrote shark names! Folding and using the cootie catcher also presented a good challenge for some students.

Our field trip today was a virtual visit with Henry Doorly’s Omaha Zoo and Aquarium. We got to see all kinds of sea creatures and learned some neat facts!

Students played a fact and opinion game outside and also befriended some grasshoppers during our break.

After lunch we researched ground sharks, the largest category of sharks. This group includes the hammerhead, tiger, and bull shark. We learned why bull sharks swim into rivers and why scalloped hammerheads sometimes gather in a group.

Students also did a guided hammerhead drawing and learned about orcas and bottlenose dolphins.

Today students learned:

  • Bennett learned that bull sharks will sometimes eat young bull sharks
  • Eddie learned that vinegar can help with jellyfish stings
  • Chris learned that octopus can solve puzzles

6/23/21

Today was all about raptor and shark babies! First, students searched for hidden eggs in the classroom that contained facts about eagle nests. After finding all the eggs, we played “eagle, eagle, hawk” (a newly invented version of duck, duck, goose) to share out the facts in the eggs. Students also got to check out some live cams on real raptor nests.

Students then researched a raptor of choice to find out where they build their nests, how many eggs are laid, and how long until the babies fledge (fly for the first time). Next, students made their own paper nests. These got multiple layers throughout the day.

We used books and a video to learn about shark babies. Did you know some sharks have live pups, some lay eggs, and some do a combination of both!?

We also read about Jacques Cousteau, underwater explorer and inventor. Students compared his conservation impact to that of Rachel Carson and Eugenie Clark.

Other animals of interest that we learned about today were the puffer fish (in particular, how dangerous it is to eat) and the electric eel.

Today students learned:

  • Rory learned that peregrine nests are called “scrapes”
  • Eddie learned that not all raptors build nests
  • Xander learned that baby sand tiger sharks eat each other (in utero)

6/22/21

First thing today students listened to a biography of Eugenie Clark. She is a marine biologist best known for her work on sharks. We then compared her to Rachel Carson. Both were barrier-breaking female scientists whose writings changed public opinion on animals.

Next we learned all about owls. Students watched videos, read, and researched an owl of their choice. They learned how owls are different than other raptors, what body features make them great hunters, and how owls are viewed in various cultures. Students even got to dissect a virtual owl pellet!

Today’s shark categories were saw sharks and frilled sharks. Frilled sharks are very rare and are thought to be the closest to prehistoric shark types.

Students expressed an interest in learning about big cats so they spent some time researching today. They took notes, created posters or flyers to share what they learned.

Students today learned:

  • Riley learned that cheetahs have a 2-3 foot tail
  • Charlotte learned that owls do not have eye muscles and have to turn their heads to look
  • Rory learned that the smallest owl weighs only 100 grams

6/21/21

Today we learned all about vultures! Students listened to a few Native American stories to see how vultures are portrayed, then learned about the two main types: old world vultures and new world vultures. Working with a partner, students created posters to teach others some of the amazing facts about vultures!

We also learned why vultures are so crucial to the environment. They are like the trash collectors, without them, dead animals would accumulate and spread disease or attract other animals that would spread disease. Be grateful for vultures!

Next, students researched mackerel sharks, a large category of shark that includes white sharks, makos, megamouths, threshers, and basking sharks. After researching on their own, students paired up to share what they had learned.

The big event today was a visit from The Raptor Center! We were so excited to guess which birds they brought to show us! We saw a red-tailed hawk, a peregrine falcon, a great horned owl, and a bald eagle. Amylyn from The Raptor Center did a great job sharing raptor facts and answering the students’ questions. All the birds we saw are too accustomed to humans to be released into the wild, but it makes them great education ambassadors!

After The Raptor Center presentation, students learned about Rachel Carson and her important work to start the environmental movement. Although she was a marine biologist, she is most well-know as the author of Silent Spring. This book helped bring awareness to the dangers of pesticides, such as DDT, to our ecosystems.

Today students learned:

  • Rory learned that many peregrine falcons make their homes in skyscrapers
  • Xander learned that vulture pee removes bacteria from their legs
  • Riley learned that vultures can smell a dead animal from a mile or more away
  • Chris learned that DDT hurt birds and was banned to help the birds

6/18/21

To start today off, students were challenged to solve clues and open a Breakout Edu box. Inside the box were the identities and dates for our virtual guest speakers next week. Students had to collaborate, communicate, and think creatively to use the clues to open 5 locks. This activity was featured on the Summer Academy blog, so you can see and read more here. You can also follow Summer Academy on Facebook or Instagram!

Once the box was opened, students learned that next Thursday and Friday we will have virtual shark expert guests!

Today’s shark focus was the group called dogfish sharks. This group includes the smallest shark and the shark that lives in the deepest water. We learned that Greenland sharks can live to be over 400 years old! This group also includes some sharks that are biofluorescent, meaning they can take the blue ocean light and make green patterns on their bodies.

Today’s craft was to make a shark bookmark. They all turned out a little bit different, but very cute!

Students chose a bird of prey to research (other than owls and vultures- those are next week!). They took notes about their bird’s habitat, diet, wingspans, and fun facts. We compared their wingspans to the students’ wingspans.

Finally, students listened to a few shark attack stories and discussed how these stories influence the perception of sharks. Students were very knowledge about the rarity of these events compared to other dangers.

Today students learned…

  • Charlotte learned that mosquitos can kill 475 thousand people a year (from malaria)
  • Annabel learned that a gyrfalcon can lay eggs when temperatures are below freezing
  • Chris learned that the bald eagle’s wingspan can be up to 7.5 feet