By Justin Fogata, DC Elementary School Site Coordinator, and Charles Kuo, DC Elementary School Program Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul” – Robert Wyland
Our AALEAD DC Elementary School youth had the opportunity to discover and experience Baltimore’s National Aquarium this past Friday. Prior to our very first field trip of the year, our classes prepared by engaging in fun and experiential activities; learning about careers in marine biology from making paper fish and life-size aquariums to a movie screening of Finding Nemo. Our older classes reviewed the basics of marine biology with an introduction to concepts such as adaptation, underwater habitats and water conservation to prep for the aquarium’s interactive and educational scavenger hunt! You could sense the excitement as we boarded the buses, one student exclaiming, “This is my first time ever visiting the aquarium!” En route to Balitmore, the students could not help but chat about which exhibits they were looking forward to. “Are you going to go to Dolphin show?” one student asks. “I wonder if they will have dinosaurs?” says another AALEAD youth. “I bet we’re going to see Nemo and Dory!” one student adds.
Upon entering the aquarium, the older youth had their pencils in hand and scavenger guides ready, “We’re off to the Australia right Mr. Charles?” one student excitedly asks. Our little explorers were excited to explore five levels of interactive marine life learning; from petting stingrays to discovering the diet of hammerhead sharks. The wait was finally over, as youth took off to discover all of what the aquarium had to offer.Field trip highlights included trekking through the tropical rainforest exhibit where AALEAD youth observed a variety of wildlife, from exotic birds and stink beetles to jungle reptiles and rhesus monkeys. Many of the youth could not help but mention the jellyfish petting exhibit, one student reminding us, “Mr. Justin, you took a picture of me petting the jellyfish right? I need evidence!” As we were boarding the bus back to D.C., students reflected on their experience, the major consensus being, “When can we go back?”