Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Beachy, Wintry, Field Trip

A lovely, little squid is presented to my teenagers for dissection.
Can you guess which child of mine wants to major in biology and which one does not?

    South Carolina offers mild fall and winter months with a rare day or two of snow.  But even with the milder temperatures in December, it was still a pretty chilly day for a trip out to the coast! Yes, today we found ourselves zipping over to the Department of Natural Resources on James Island for FREE science opportunities for the kiddos. My three teenagers, Emily, Harrison, and Samuel, met with other home schoolers in our support group to learn everything they ever wanted to learn about squid and even stuff they didn't.
   Harrison is taking biology this year, and as you can probably imagine, he has not been the most enthusiastic student. Emily, on the other hand, has been a little scientist ever since she could mix things. I can't tell you how many times I have discovered mystery items in my freezer, had my baking soda disappear way too quickly, or found her outside in the dirt, planting something new. Emily insisted on taking Honors Biology her Freshman year and desires to pursue it in more depth at our local, Christian college next year. She is a Senior now and is LOVING her anatomy class.
   Emily followed me to my "mole removal" procedure last summer because she WANTED TO WATCH (yes, they let her), and then joined me at the hematologist when I had my blood tested because of a low platelet count. She will be accompanying her sister, Hayden to her orthodontist appointment next week, and then will have the personal experience herself in January. Every doctor's appointment around here is an opportunity for a field trip for Emily. She wanted to be here today because to her, the idea of dissecting anything is a thrill.
    I was horrified to find two deer legs in my garage refrigerator last week. Emily had talked her dad into bringing them home from his seasonal part-time job at a deer processing business. She was studying joints in anatomy and wanted to study some real knees. I shudder to think what our trash collectors think of us. Yikes. Interestingly enough. Harrison has frequently assisted Scott in deer processing and doesn't seem to have a problem cutting up deer. He says blood doesn't bother him. It is the slime.........Emily, interestingly enough, hates blood. What a pair.
    Harrison is more of a political guy.  He loves history and watching the news almost as much as watching football. These two are currently taking a Constitutional Law class together. This class is more of a challenge for Emily, who is doing very well; but Harrison eats that stuff with a spoon.

Meanwhile in another building...............

My nine year old, Joseph (center), enthusiastically raises his hand during a salt marsh study while my faithful assistant, Hayden (a home school graduate) keeps an eye on him while sitting on the floor, (at the back of the class).  She continues to pursue her writing, but will attend college with her sister next year.  Like Harrison, she is a history lover.

Joseph hasn't had much classroom experience outside of our home, and it is always interesting to me to see how my kids respond in a group setting away from their usual classmates (siblings).  

The dissection class held about twenty teenagers. Another group of twenty from our group met an hour before we did.  My husband is standing in the back keeping an eye on our three while I "float" back and forth between the two classes observing and taking pictures.

The materials and presentation were well-organized and informative.

The kids receive their squid and work in teams of two. Our friends, the Blauch family, also participated today.  Harrison's friend, Benjamin (sitting next to him), who wants to be a marine biologist, patiently listens to Harrison explain why this activity is inappropriate for young minds
due to its grossness.

Dad wanders over. My husband, Scott, had actually begun to pursue a degree in marine biology about eight years after receiving his degree in business, but decided not to continue after we began expecting child number two (Emily). Over the years, he has had several salt water fish tanks and even experimented with tilapia farming. Harrison is surrounded and outnumbered by biology lovers today!

Samuel and his lab partner count appendages on the squid. Samuel enjoyed this activity far more than he expected today. 

Joey's group goes outside on a marsh scavenger hunt to locate some of the items and critters they discussed and touched during their lesson.

Back at the lab, Emily uses the probe to locate the "beak".

Sammy cuts the squid to identify more parts.

Emily and Harrison have a male.  Samuel and his lab partner have a female.

Somehow, Harrison managed to get through the entire lab without actually touching the squid.  When Emily insisted that he at least break open the ink sac; he used her hand to do it.  Sigh.  I can't be too hard on him.  I did the same thing in college.  I was always the "scribe" in these types of labs.  I took the notes while the other partner did all the messy stuff.

Now for assessment.  The students complete a labeling worksheet.

Joey's group finished up their scavenger hunt by taking a few minutes to "clean up" pollution in the marsh area and returning all the shells, hermit crabs, etc. that the students had collected.

The kids returned to the shelter and volunteered to reach in to the "mystery bag".  The objects in the bag were used to explain how the marsh is used and contributed to by animals, plants, and water.  Some of the objects were a pillow (migrating birds use the marsh to rest), coffee filters (oysters filter the water), an apple (the marsh provides food) and a whisk (because the marsh is where the salt and fresh water mix).

Joey tastes a tiny "sea pickle".  This salty, little plant grows among the marsh.  Joey learned that these are sometimes used as a salad topping in some of the fancier restaurants. I think Joey harvested enough of these to store in a pickle jar!  He even put a couple on his chicken sandwich for dinner!

Fascinating Fact:  Below is a picture of a squid "pen".  The kids located and removed these during their dissection.  Because squids are invertebrates and have no backbones, these "pens" give the squid support instead.  They are located where a backbone would be and are nestled underneath the ink sac.  Seriously, a pen and ink are found inside these little guys!  The Lord definitely has a sense of humor!

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever.......
Psalm 146:5-6