Whitney Lab volunteers bring the sea to school.
No words were needed. The expressions on the faces of the children in Teresa Rizzo's kindergarten class, at Old Kings Elementary, said it all – marine life is wondrous.
Whitney Lab docents set up stations in the classroom allowing for groups of five to six children to observe and touch creatures that included a horseshoe crab, a horse conch, and mud snails.
“It's hard to take kindergarten kids on a field trip so this is an in-house field trip,” Rizzo said.
The volunteer docents shared their knowledge of the critters at their station, and in most cases, encouraged them to gently touch.
“I am the horseshoe crab expert,” docent Dennis Beynon joked.
Beynon turned over the horseshoe crabs in the water filled plastic tub as Nala Graham and Sal Kilday watched intently. Sal's mouth formed a perfect “o” as the crab's long straight, rigid tail began swinging back and forth in the air.
“What is she trying to do?” Beynon asked.
The response he was going for was; she is trying to roll herself over.
“It's hard to take kindergarten kids on a field trip; so this is an in-house field trip.”
OKES KINDERGARTEN TEACHER, Teresa Rizzo
On the other side of the room cupped hands held small mud snails. The snails slowly stretched out of their shells in search of a feeding opportunity. Mia Ramos was clearly thrilled as the small snail squiggled against her palm.
Docents Janice McIntyre and Angie Bennett watched closely to ensure the animals safety, encouraging the children to hold their hands over the bin of water. Taking special care of the animals was all part of learning about marine life.