Teacher brings ocean to students

Staff writer

Not every hand rose when Marion Elementary second grade teacher Ginger Becker asked students Friday if they had ever been to the ocean, but every child got a chance to see ocean creatures, inside and out, by the time she was done with a special dissecting session on the school’s back patio.

“We are doing this all in the name of science,” Becker said. “I don’t want to hear any ‘ewws’ or ‘yuck’, this is all very interesting stuff, and you all will have a chance to see everything.”

Second graders watched intently and soaked up information about sea urchins, star fish, squid, octopus, manta rays, and whales, but their attention was clearly focused on two approximately 24” dogfish sharks that Becker ordered especially for their biomes of the ocean study.

“These sharks get caught in tuna nets by fisherman off the coast of Cape Cod,” Becker said. “They save them for schools like ours so we can see what is inside them. I especially paid more to get some that have the unborn babies inside.”

Students crept closer to the table of intrigue despite warnings from teachers and aides that everyone could see better if they kept their distance. Even the unpleasant odor of preservation chemicals did not deter some of the potential avid marine biologists.

Becker explained that the skin of the dogfish shark was rough, almost like sandpaper, and at one time Japanese warriors used it for sword handles.

Other interesting tidbits she shared with her students included that the oily liver helped keep the shark afloat, and inside the digestive system were often parts of fish or other things that the sharks ate before their capture.

Becker found a fish inside one intestinal system and a squid inside another, but did not find baby sharks, also called pups, in the reproductive area.

“We do have these eggs,” she said. “But unfortunately they are not developed enough into the pup stage.”

Some students felt bad for the sharks, but most were very excited to see the inside of the amazing creatures.

“Fridays are for fun things,” said Deidre Derksen, a Tabor College student and classroom aide. “I think it is really neat how she does these hands-on learning experiments with the class.”

 

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