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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

The Mobile Marine Lab

I love watching the kids in Leo’s class interact with science and art experiments. Some kids, like Leo, dive right in and get messy, wet, and dirty without a second thought. Others carefully roll up their sleeves, insist on wearing a smock, and carefully examine their messy options. One girl in Leo’s class refuses to touch anything and is easily upset with messes and wardrobe changes. I think that it is great for kids to express what they need in a safe setting. But I often wonder how this is going to play out as they get older and interact with many different opportunities in their world.
I got to see their traits in action when the Mobile Marine Lab came to school last week. I was so excited for this event. We had such a great time last year and Henry was able to join us because the elementary schools are out. The basic set up is this: the marine animals arrive in containers on a truck. The truck pulls a 4-sided water table with all sorts of pumps and contraptions to keep the water cold and salinated. Before the kids come out to the parking lot the animals are placed in the water table along with seaweed, shells, and other sea props.
It is quite a set up. The owner of the lab goes to a beach every morning to collect the creatures and then returns them in the evening. I totally geeked out asking him questions about tides, water temps, and habitats. We even had a conversation about the east coast tide pool creatures vs. the west coast tide pools. It made me long for Maine. I was enthralled…but enough about me.
Leo and Henry had an amazing hands-on experience with sea stars, hermit crabs, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers, to name a few. At the beach, I have a hard time convincing them to touch any creatures that we encounter, but at the Marine Lab, the boys were elbow deep and completely engaged. Leo couldn’t get enough of the sea stars (I call them starfish). The kids held the sea stars and used seashells to gently pour water over the animals. With patience and water, the kids could get the sea stars to relax and suction onto the palm of their hands. Very cool.
Henry was surprised by the texture of the sea cucumber. I was proud of him for touching, since he usually shies away from icky stuff (unlike his brother). All the kids in the photo below seem to be surprised and excited!
We even saw creatures that looked like hairy aliens. This crab uses bits of seaweed to disguise itself from predators. I wonder what kinds of questions Sid would come up with about this crab!
We could have spent all afternoon at the Mobile Marine Lab. Long after Leo’s class went inside for lunch I was out there chatting with the owner while Henry splashed around. He needed a complete change of clothes when we got home. I got in the car scheming about hiring the Mobile Marine Lab for Henry’s next birthday party. It would be so much better than that place with “Cheese” in the name.
If any of the creative folks at Sid are reading this…please do a show about marine life! I think it would be amazing for the Sid gang to visit an aquarium or even go to the beach. Think of all the science investigations you could dream up!
Do you kids enjoy hands-on experiences with animals? Is your kid a messy scientist or a lab coat professional?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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