Every year, students at delve deep into an inter-curricular thematic unit that covers a surrounding natural element in Pacifica: The ocean. This year's Oceans Week theme is wetlands, and the students at Ocean Shore School have worked diligently to create an interactive museum-like experience for members of their community.
Creative decorations cover nearly every inch of the hallways, and even the ceiling had duck feet surrounded by lily pods hanging from it. Intricate murals depicting shorebirds, marine life, and marsh areas were created by students, who lead their fellow classmates through rotating presentations of what they learned in their grade.
In classrooms, teachers, eighth graders, and special guests presented a variety of interesting hands-on lessons. In a science class, students dissected bolus--albatross vomit--to see what these ocean birds regularly eat from our surrounding beaches. The results were interesting—and sad. Mixed among the typical squid beaks was discarded fishing line, bits of plastic and Styrofoam, and, in one case, a lighter!
At another table, eighth graders showed students how scientists use dish soap to help clean up oil spills. Using tubs filled with water and oil, two students carefully squirted one or two drops of soap in the containers, and while the younger students watched, the oil began to break up in bubbles. These bubbles are important because sunlight can get through the oil and nourish the plankton underneath.
In the back of the room, another table of students sorted plastic with their teacher, Sandy Mills. Using three beakers, each filled with either salt water, pond water or tap water, she showed the students how bits of garbage behave differently in distinctive kinds of water.
When explaining the evolution of plastic to her students, Mills said that in the 1950s, one reason scientists created plastic was for safer containers for household use. But, she concluded, though plastic was “designed to last forever, it was made to throw away.”
Down the hall in art class, students made press boards with coastal scenes. These press boards were then inked and pressed on paper, creating beautiful impressions.
In another class, another presenter showed students how water runoff effects erosion (see video in the gallery to the right). This water set-up, complete with sand, rocks, and water spigot, was a hit for students who enjoyed being able to see firsthand how water shapes landscapes.
Oceans Week continues at Ocean Shore through May 25.