With the final week of school upon us, second graders at Mary Esther Elementary School are diving deep into a world of marine exploration.
- Guided by their teachers Mrs. Lindsey Rodrigue and Ms. Janice Fendrick, the students have been fully immersed in their year-end “Ocean Biome” project, a dynamic, hands-on experience that brings together research, creativity, and a touch of magic.
The idea behind the project is simple yet profound. It’s all about introducing the students to the beginning stages of research, a crucial skill in their academic journey, and culminating with an “underwater” experience.
- As Mrs. Rodrigue shares, “We wait until the end of the year and do a huge unit.” With a sense of excitement building, the students look forward to shark week followed by a week devoted to diverse sea creatures.
Taking a no-cost approach, the students use recycled materials to create their chosen sea creature at home, simultaneously teaching them the importance of sustainability. They then embark on a research adventure, using Google search on their iPads at school to discover and document fascinating details about their marine animal.
An inflatable ocean biome takes the center stage in this learning journey. Upon entering this underwater world, the students see the creatures they crafted, fostering a real sense of accomplishment and making learning truly memorable.
In a beautiful blend of subjects, Ms. Fendrick, who teaches the math portion, has cleverly integrated numeracy into the project. Students “go fishing for a shark” and use their catches to construct addition problems. She also ties in reading, focusing on the Plant and Animal Life Cycle.
One of the project’s many highlights is the moment when students get to “read under the sea.” With the lights off, the children take turns in small groups reading inside the blown-up ocean biome, creating a serene and captivating environment that encourages a love for literacy.
For the second year running, the “Ocean Biome” project has captivated not just the students but also the rest of the school. Its popularity has even inspired plans to enhance the project next year with a greater focus on 3D animals.
- But amidst all the success and positive feedback, Mrs. Rodrigue and Ms. Fendrick are quick to credit their predecessor, Ms. Barbie Stricklin. Stricklin, who is now retired from teaching, originally created the ocean biome concept. Now, her legacy lives on, inspiring curiosity and a love for learning in some of Mary Esther’s youngest students.
As the school year draws to a close, the students are not only developing essential skills but also learning more about the sea creatures that are in our backyard. This year’s Ocean Biome project has once again proved that learning can be a fascinating journey, filled with discoveries, creativity, and a sprinkling of magic.