Friday, October 9, 2009

New England Aquaium's "Women in Science"

On Thursday 6 girls had the special opportunity to attend the New England Aquarium’s “Women in Science” program. Ten Greater Boston middle schools were selected to bring 6 girls each to this program. Lily, Jane, Isabella, Sarah, Larissa, and Claire won the lottery we held to determine who from my 4 groups could go. Mrs. O’Connell joined us and the 8 of us left Parker a little after 7:00AM!

We arrived a little after 8 and signed in, had breakfast, and found out our schedule for the day. The first session was a behind the scences look at several various aspects of the aquarium. Jane, Sarah, Claire and I went behind the sciences of the Cold water exhibit where we observed the large Octopus. The girls, and me, got to touch and feed the Octopus. She would latch onto our fingers, hand, and arms with its suction cups. We also saw up close and personal sea anemones, lobsters, sea clams, and a Goosefish.

Lily, Jane, Larissa, and Mrs. O’Connell went behind the scenes to observe the breeding Jellyfish. These jellyfish are part of an ongoing exhibit.

 They also hand a first hand experience with the where the aquarium stores their creatures used for their Outreach program. The girls observed and handled Sea stars, Sea scallops, Moon snails, Spider snails, crabs, and Sea urchins. The scientists and aquarists talked to the girls about their jobs and the skills needed to perform the jobs.

For second part of our morning, we revolved through 3 stations. At each station there was a scientist, an assistant and an Aquarium volunteers. They shared with the girls their story of how they became involved with marine sciences and the various volunteering and job opportunities at the aquarium.

The first rotation was an introduction to the Aquarium’s Rescue & Rehabilitation program. The Aquarium staff showed their emergency response vehicle and demonstrated the various materials and resources they had at their disposal to help sick and injured seals, turtles, and other marine mammals.

These second rotation had us observing the marine mammals they were rehabbing and working with. We started off with the Harbor seal that they keep outside.

 The staff was feeding them and discussing the various needs of these captive seals. Our 6 girls also had a “private” viewing of a feeding going on at the other end of the tank. The access door was open for the staff member to feed the seals and she let the girls get really close to them and showed the girls the hand signals she used to make the seals turn in circles. The girls quickly got he 3 seals doing 360’s! We saw a Fur seal and heard how the scientists train and rehabilitate these creatures.

Our last rotation had us learning about the Penguins on exhibit at the Aquarium. There are 4 different species there and we learned about the Penguins and the care involved with them.

We had a great pizza and salad lunch followed by an IMAX showing of the film, “Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean”. It was great!

We then return to the aquarium where we had free time to explore the various exhibits. We had the drag the girls out of there at 3:30!

The girls were great! They asked lots of insightful questions and took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them!

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