As Claire mentioned in the last post, this week students learned about marine mammals as part of this week’s theme: “Marine Mammal Maniacs.” At the beginning of the lesson I discuss with the students the definition of and facts about marine mammals. Then, most importantly, I relate it back to local species and we focus on marine mammals found in Boston Harbor and Massachusetts.
A lot of the facts and activities that I used this week came from some of the links collected in the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s website
Some important tips to keep in mind when teaching students about marine mammals:
- Marine mammals are charismatic creatures that humans can easily relate to, making this a fun topic that is sure to interest students.
- The most popular marine mammals that people know about are whales and dolphins, so try to encourage new learning about lesser-known species, such as dugongs, porpoises, sea lions, and walruses.
- Because children and adults alike are drawn to marine mammals, it is a great way to bring up conservation topics and how our actions can negatively or positively affect the ocean and the animals that live there. The Marine Mammal Center and Dawn Junior Wildlife Champions have come up with some great activities that are fun and easy to use: http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/Get-Involved/awareness-campaigns/dawn-junior-wildlife.html
- Remember to keep it local! Educate about marine mammals that you find in the waters around where you live and teach. Focus on the threats to these species and how we can work on protecting them. For Boston, Stellwagen Bank Nation Marine Sanctuary is a seasonal home to many marine mammals, so this website is a great place to start.
Here are some great pictures of students from Step 3 and our IIT’s playing our “Eat Like a Whale” game that I adapted from the a lesson created by PBS, which you can find in this link along with the blubber experiment that Claire wrote about in the last post.
It was so much fun to teach about marine mammals this week and I can’t wait for Crustacean Crusaders next week!