An adventure to the New England Aquarium, in Boston, on June 13th, combined both a celebration of several years together and new academic learning for Fletcher’s sixth graders. The class selected two year-end events to culminate their time at the Fletcher School: the Boston trip and an overnight lock-in at the school scheduled for next week.
In Boston, students appreciated a personalized “behind the scenes tour” of the New England Aquarium. Guided by one of the aquarium’s educators, students learned how animals come to live at the there, what they eat, the workings of the filtrations systems and how sick sea creatures are nursed back to health. They took particular interest in Oscar, a very large misbehaving fish that had been placed in marine “Time Out.” Students met many of the aquarium’s biologists as they went about their daily work.
“The behind the scenes tour was an extraordinary learning experience to learn about different habitats and much more about so many kinds of fish,” sixth grader Matthew Spiller said. “To be responsible citizens it is important not only to learn more about fish but our focus was also to learn about clean water and filtration and to see the different kinds of filters was also great.”
At the iMax Theater, students were treated to the film, Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland. Boston’s iMax Theater boasts the largest movie screen in New England and students learned about iguanas, penguins, tortoises and other creatures. Soaring aerial footage of the volcanic islands and up close and personal views of the islands’ animal inhabitants made the 3D adventure breathtaking.
Students participated in two inquiry-based, hands-on educational programs lead by aquarium staff: H20 and Squids: Inside and Out. Students learned how the salinity of water, along with other properties of water, contribute to it being healthy or unhealthy for marine life. They dissected squids to learn more about the many fascinating features that help this creature survive in the ocean.
Students also had plenty of time to explore the main aquarium. The New England Aquarium welcomes 1.3 million visitors per year. The four-story giant ocean tank features a coral reef and hundreds of reef animals such as sting rays, eels, fish and sea turtles that weigh in at over 500 pounds.
“I think this trip was really important because we got to spend time with our classmates and learn so many different things,” sixth grader Christina Ashley said. “We learned a lot of really interesting facts by seeing things that we do not have access around here.”
“The 6th grade trip is important because we were able to really experience going away and being able to go somewhere to celebrate all of our hard work here at Fletcher before we go to a different school,” Spiller said. “We also met a lot of our learning goals for the day.”
Sixth grader Gracie Clark said she found the trip inspirational. “It gave me the inspiration to write books about the aquarium and the animals that live there,” she said.
“We wanted to support the students in selecting a class trip that would not only be unforgettable as a social experience, but also include a learning component that would engage and thrill them,” sixth grade teacher Jasmine Tremblay said. “Their choice of the aquarium was the perfect harmony of social and academic learning and set the stage for their ongoing love of science and fascination with the natural world.”
Students made a final late-night stop to investigate the I-89 Eco-Machine at the Sharon rest area. The massive greenhouse processes up to 6,000 gallons of water daily.
“The living machine purifies water so that they do not have to keep taking water from the ground to run the rest area,” Clark said. “We just have to start thinking about our limited resources and this is a good example of a natural and creative solution that is friendly to the environment and pleasant to look at.”
Target: Flexible Learning Environments – FWSU maximizes flexible learning environments by redefining the school day, promoting learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom, and fostering creativity, innovation, and personalized learning opportunities for all.
Indicators of Success: The school calendar and school day is flexible and responsive to the needs of students.
Action Steps: (1) Provide students with access to content, resources, and methods for learning beyond the school day and beyond the school walls. (2) Develop opportunities for students to demonstrate transferable skills in authentic settings.