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Adelante Third-Graders Delve Into Ocean Science at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Overnight trip helps reinforce what the students had been studying in the classroom

The third-grade classes at Adelante Charter School in Santa Barbara recently returned from the school’s second annual trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The teachers received a grant from the aquarium and the students raised remaining funds to travel by Santa Barbara Airbus and stay in a hotel near Cannery Row. For most, it was the first time away from home alone and first experience staying in a hotel.

The trip supported the students’ science instruction this trimester. The class had been studying different habitats and adaptations of plants and animals with a focus on ocean science. They spent weeks learning about the different animals they would encounter at the aquarium and the various ocean habitats where they are found.

Adelante Charter School is committed to teaching many of the science standards through the lens of ocean science, as it is so relevant to students’ lives. The ocean is their backyard, so to speak, yet unfortunately it is often left unexplored in most science curriculum.

Third-graders at Adelante receive all of their science instruction in Spanish, so it was an incredible treat to have a bilingual marine biologist lead the students in a hands-on inquiry all delivered in Spanish. The children were able to handle and feed various marine invertebrates and learn more about their adaptations for survival. They were treated like real scientists and given the freedom to explore and question. They even learned new academic vocabulary in Spanish and had so much of their prior learning reinforced.

A favorite word the students had become familiar with was “bosque de cachiyuyo,” which means kelp forest. The aquarium staff commented that they were so impressed with what the students knew and the depth of their questions.

After the laboratory experience, groups of students were able to explore the aquarium and come face to face with some of their favorite animals. One of the favorites, the sea otters, were spotted playing in the Monterey Bay while the students ate lunch. Other favorites were the sharks, sea turtles and the mesmerizing jellies.

Students left this experience with a deeper appreciation for the ocean and the amazing life it sustains. Adelante embraces the belief that it is only after children love and understand the ocean will they want to preserve and protect it. Many students expressed that they want to become marine biologists someday so they can continue studying the ocean and caring for its animals. These children will carry these memories with them forever!

— Holly Gil is an Adelante Charter School parent.

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