Science this Week: All Fired Up!
A Quick & Crafty Apple Tote

Our First Day of Aquarium School!


As homeschoolers, we are blessed to live within driving distance of Boston. There are so many resources available to us - historic sites, museums, theater, national parks etc. I like to think that as my boys get older we will tap into the city's attractions more and more.

Tops among places to see (with families and tourists alike) is the New England Aquarium, pictured above. Shamefully we have not been in years (not since Crackerjack was in a stroller!) but this year will change all that! We have signed up for Aquarium School, a series of classes offered exclusively to homeschoolers, and it just kicked off today!

So, you know me, you're not going to get a quick synopsis here, lol. No, I took lots of pictures, and as a parent volunteer I've got the inside skinny to share. :)

First, the picture below shows my two older boys on our way in to class (Earlybird stayed home with Nana). They don't look too thrilled, but honestly they were! I think we were all a little nervous though. We didn't know what to expect, and of course, for me, there was the whole "getting into Boston thing," lol. Happily, we did know two other families (best friends of ours) who would be there, and spotting those familiar faces took the edge off considerably.


There are two classes held at the same time - one for 6-8 year olds and one for 9-12 year olds. Both cover the same content, but obviously at age-appropriate levels.

Here is Crackerjack with his friends, Kurt and Abby. They are working on the first activity together - inventing their own invertebrates.


Crackerjack's creature, the one in the in the middle, was called a "Tom" Jellyfish and those pipe cleaners were really poisonous stingers! In the background is Kurt's "Thunderfish" and in the foreground is Abby's (decidely gentler and friendlier) "Bunnyfish."


Our next activity was really neat - each table received a touch-tank filled with tidepool animals for the kids to explore! Crackerjack was fascinated, but a bit squeamish to pick the creatures up. I'm sure that will change as the classes go along. ;)

Here are two starfish and a spider crab just beneath:


There were also fiddler and hermit crabs, snails, scallops, mussels and sea urchins. Very, very cool.

The last part of our class was spent inside the Aquarium itself. What an amazing place!


Our first stop was the Salt Marsh tank and the kids all worked on a scavenger hunt list: "find an animal that has a shell," and "find and draw an animal that has spines."

CJ chose a snail and an urchin, respectively.

Before leaving the area, we took a minute to marvel at some larger ocean specimens. In the center of the Aquarium is a giant ocean tank that reaches from the bottom floor all the way to the top. At each level you can look inside at the myriad coral reef creatures who call the tank home. (You can watch the live webcam here.)

The kids were utterly transfixed: 


We saw a couple of sharks:


And a manta ray:


And check out this giant sea turtle! We thought he was a rock!


Walking up to the third floor we passed through a hallway with cool glow-in-the dark lighting, but the giant whale skeleton suspended above us was really something to see! 


Our next stop was the "Edge of the Sea, the large tidepool exhibit. Here's our friend Abby sharing her observations with me:


The children were allowed to pick up any creature they wished, but they had to be gentle, and they were asked to hold the animals under water.


Here we saw starfish, crabs of all kinds, (including horseshoe crabs, a recent fascination for us), mussels and sea urchins. The kids continued their scavenger hunt looking for things that "had sticky feet," things that "used camouflage," things that "could climb out of the tank," and an "animal with a long tail."

Crackerjack got right down to work:


Everything was so touchable, but the jellyfish were kept, naturally, under glass:


Lion's mane jellies - these pictures don't do them an iota of justice.

So tomorrow the boys will write about their experience in their science notebooks, and I'll print some of these pictures out for them to add, too. I am really thrilled to be participating in such an amazing educational experience, right alongside my boys. But the best part is, they loved it too, and you should hear them talking their Daddy's ear off right now! :)

Have a great night, everyone!