Marine Explorers

Instructor: Andie Fisher / Karen Pankaew

Ages: 9-11, 12-18

Course Cost: $130

Course Description:

Blue Earth Research Group brings the wonder of the marine environment to you through exciting activities and labs to stimulate appreciation of marine organisms and how our world interacts with their world. This Fall we will focus on the coral reef ecosystem and highlight the life cycles and biology of sea stars, mollusks, sea turtles, and dolphins. Students will simulate the fascinating dolphin adaptations of echolocation and the diving response first hand. Through dissections they’ll learn about the unique anatomies of sea stars and mollusks and their role in the marine ecosystem. Interactive activities will bring an understanding of food webs, survival, and threats to these ecosystems and animals. Students will be a “vet for a day” to diagnose a stranded model sea turtle as well as a scientific researcher to study animal behavior and adaptations. You will be able to see many of the learned lessons in real life through optional fieldtrips offered at an additional cost. These include excursions to Shell Key, a dolphin watch tour, and Mote Marine Aquarium all guided by your instructor. The class curriculum includes:
• Introduction and ice breaker activities to learn about sea turtles found in Florida’s waters and the 7 species of sea turtles worldwide: basic sea turtle anatomy, species specific adaptations, diet preferences, and habitats.
• Lesson on sea turtle nesting and migratory behavior, and group activity to highlight human impacts as well as what we can do to reduce threats to these creatures.
• Perform a mock sea turtle rescue: take a basic health profile of stranded sea turtle model, diagnose problem at intake, and propose treatment plans.
• Introduction of tropical coral reef ecosystems and their importance to our oceans: common reef animals in Florida, interrelationships between organisms, special adaptations, and food webs.
• Sea star dissection: study the anatomy of the sea star and related echinoderms, understand their role in the reef, and discuss regeneration.
• Clam dissection: basic bivalve anatomy, role in ecosystem as a filter feeder, and discuss mollusk relatives found locally.
• Survey of different marine mammals around the world: two by two comparison activity of mammals, mammal adaptations to the water world.
• Lesson on dolphin behavior and social groups, scientific researcher activity to identify individual animals by markings on dorsal fins.
• Dolphin adaptations activities: investigate the role of blubber through lab activity, model echolocation using tuning forks and group activity to find prey.
• Experiments on human diving response: lab activity to measure heart rate when holding breath underwater.
Curriculum may be adjusted due to resource availability. Students will need web enabled devices on some days.