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Marine Science Highlights

Marine Science Highlights


It has been such a full first semester of Marine Science learning!

The Junior Kindergarten students began their exploration of water habitats, starting with the sharing of their wonders. They moved into observing and interacting with the fish and invertebrates in the tanks of the Marine science lab. They watched, touched, and documented the life of these ecosystems. The JK students learned and observed the characteristics of fish and also some local tide pool animals. At the end of this study, students examined their own connection to the ocean, learning how trash can get to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways. They took part in a campus cleanup to help keep our school trash out of the ocean.

The Kindergarten students explored the characteristics of living vs non-living organisms. They also learned about the features of water habitats- both salty and fresh. They explored the tropical and cold water touch tanks within the lab to examine and illustrate the fish and invertebrates, as well as the clues that washed up on shore. They designed and built ponds, rivers, lakes, and ocean shore habitats, and began learning about the many animals and plants that live within these habitats, zooming in on the anatomy of a fish. At the end of this study, students examined their own connection to the ocean, learning how trash can get to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways. They took part in a campus cleanup to help keep our school trash out of the ocean.

The first-grade students learned about the intertidal zone and how animals and seaweed have to adapt to hold on, hide, and protect themselves from all of the challenges. They traveled to the Seymour Marine Discovery Museum Lab, and students examined many of these intertidal animals and their functions. Students studied the animals of our school touch tank to explore the body design, behaviors, and feeding of our local intertidal animals (including urchins, hermit and shore crabs, sea anemones, sculpins, and mussels). They also built tide pools and conducted tests to see how tidal ranges change and how animals are impacted.

The second-grade students studied our sandy shores. Students examined how sand and beaches reveal evidence of nearly everything that has lived there, passed through or washed up. Students learned about how sand gets to the beach and what the size, shape, and composition of sand grains tell us. They took a field trip to Bean Hollow State Beach to learn about our local coastal geology. Students then studied life on the beach, below the sand, in the nearshore water, and in the beach wrack- zooming in on a particular habitat and the inhabitants there. They traveled to Francis State Beach to study these inhabitants of our neighboring shores- including the environmentally threatened snowy plover.


The third-grade students have been studying the water cycle and watersheds. Students learned how water travels in a cycle, taking part in an activity that allowed them to experience the cycle in its many forms, and creating mini moss ecosystems to observe the water cycle in action over time. From here students dove into their study of watersheds, and are just finishing their 3-D watershed models (tomorrow they add the element of gravity). They experimented with how pervious vs impervious surfaces influence the flow and quality of water that meets the land. We hiked down to the Arroyo Leon behind the school to make our initial observations and will be making frequent observations and measurements for the remainder of the school year. Due to the recent flooding, we have had to reschedule our field trip to Pescadero Marsh Natural Reserve. Thank you to all parents who made time to drive.

The fourth-grade students examined the question-“What is the ocean like?” Within this unit, students examined ocean characteristics and how they are different in varying places within the ocean. Students studied how the ocean layers according to the temperatures and salinity of the ocean, through water labs and ocean-related mysteries. They also took part in labs that allowed them to experience pressure and visualize light and temperature in varying ocean layers. They examined the ocean floor and the types of vessels used to study it and illustrated their own ocean animal diagrams suited for their chosen ocean zone. They will be using this information to lay the foundation for their marine habitat studies in semester 2.

The fifth-grade scientists completed their first dissection to learn about the structure and function of the common market squid. We discussed how the squid fisheries are one example of special interest groups of Monterey Bay, and then expanded our conversation to think about all the ways our community (not just humans!) rely upon this space. Students then worked as a team to generate questions to ask of different Pillar Point Harbor stakeholders to learn more about their unique perspectives on the harbor. Students conducted personal interviews with these stakeholders and created informational posters to present to share with one another to enrich their understanding of our interactions with this coastal asset.

The sixth-grade students started with an initial “Ocean Bootcamp” study- learning and teaching each other about the basic characteristics of the ocean. Students moved into their study of carbon, and how it flows through the ocean, land, and atmosphere. They explored the delicate balance that exists between having enough and having too much carbon in each of these large reservoirs and took part in activities to examine how the human impact has moved much of the carbon into our atmosphere.

The seventh-grade students traveled to Catalina island via the Naturalists at Large program. Upon their return, students synthesized and built upon this learning, researching and presenting to one another about the geology, life on land and in the ocean, and resources of Catalina island (as well as the Farallon Islands). Students then moved into a basic study of our coastal geology and its formations, traveling to Bean Hollow State Beach to observe these formations in person.

The eighth-grade students began with an “Ocean Bootcamp” study- learning and teaching each other about the basic characteristics of the ocean. Students traveled to Pillar Point Harbor to participate in a coastal restoration project, transplanting native beach grasses, as a part of the Living Shoreline project. Students learned about some of our local native dune plants and how they are used to support ecological systems. Students moved into their study of marine mammals, exploring the biology and ecology of the 5 groups of marine mammals, and how they are adapted to live in the marine environment. Students finished the unit by researching a particular marine mammal and sharing their marine mammals as Olympic champions (in their chosen Olympic division) with their classmates.

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