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Ocean Discovery Kits

Teachers bring students to the Aquarium all the time, but what’s the best way to help teachers incorporate CMA’s ocean expertise in the classroom? Exhibits and Collections Curator Dr. Julianne Kalman Passarelli wanted to find an answer to this question and expand marine science learning opportunities for students in the Los Angeles area.

Then an invitation arrived from Eaton Canyon Nature Center for a teacher workshop they were hosting to learn more about their resource kits. This sounded like the perfect solution. Passarelli contacted the nature center and they generously allowed her to participate in the workshop, examine their resource kits and take back copies of materials. This led to the beginning of CMA’s Ocean Discovery Kits!

“Our specimen loan program for teachers consists of science-themed boxed kits inspired by Eaton Canyon’s teacher materials,” said Passarelli. “Each Ocean Discovery Kit is packed with marine life preserved specimens and bones, books, DVDs and a resource guide that includes learning objectives, teacher preparation and class activities.”

There are eight Ocean Discovery Kits to choose from and each covers a specific topic including: Marine Fossils & Sand; Plankton & Algae; Marine Invertebrates; Bony Fishes; Sharks, Skates & Rays; Marine Birds & Reptiles; Marine Mammals; and Ocean Stewardship. Kits also come with optional check-out items such as a taxidermy pelican, a green sea turtle shell or a bottlenose dolphin skull.

Six teachers helped launch the Ocean Discovery Kits through a pilot program that ran from February through June of 2013. The group tested four kits and provided feedback and input, which was incorporated before the official launch of all eight kits in October 2013. Since February 2013, 16 teachers from 16 different schools have checked out the kits 39 times!

“We estimate that 1,170 students have learned about marine science from the kits since the program started,” said Passarelli. “It’s great to see all of our hard work paying off. Assembling the kits, designing the lesson plans and compiling all the materials was a collaborative effort amongst all the departments at the Aquarium.”

Kids seem excited about the kits too. A fifth grader commented, “I liked how the reptile skin feels, it felt like bubble wrap. Another fifth grader said, “I learned that sea animals can die just because of debris.” And a high school teacher said, “My students want to learn more about everything!”

The Ocean Discovery Kits are designed to complement California Science Content Standards. Loan services are available to teachers and non-profit educators who complete a workshop held every fall at the Aquarium. Kits are allowed to be checked out for three weeks. For more information on how to participate, please contact Dr. Julianne Passarelli at (310) 548-7562.

Post Date: Monday, March 03, 2014

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