Learning About Our Bay at the Marine Science Institute

This year, my first grader laid on the guilt pretty thick about chaperoning for his class field trip.  I missed the Kindergarten Spring trip to Roaring Camp Railroad while in the throws of horrible morning sickness.  Then I missed the Fall field trip in November with a newborn baby in the house.  “Please come, Mom.  Please.  You haven’t been on a field trip in FOREVER.”  Stab me straight in the heart, kid.

Last Friday, I headed out to the Marine Science Institute with my son and his school’s three classes of First Graders.  I didn’t know what to expect, having never been to the small, hippie-type institute in Redwood City.  Armed with only a camera and my packed lunch, I had no idea what we had in store for us.  Or how much these kids would learn about our special Bay in just four hours.

We started by “fishing” on the Institute’s oyster-shell beach.  The 60 kids had to work together to pull a net out of the bay, then had to work even faster to collect all the fish they caught.  The kids would run from the net to the bucket to save all the fish.  I loved asking the kids how it felt to feel a fish.  Was it slimy?  Was it moving or still?  Did it bite you?

Afterwards, the kids were split into smaller groups and rotated through four very hands-on stations.  They learned all about different fish in the Bay, caught plankton with a special net, touched a Tiger Shark, and even met the real Sponge-Bob Square Pants.  I loved learning about all the difference types of plants, animals, and invertebrates that inhabit the San Francisco Bay.  It was great to see the kids connect with simple, practical, easy to adopt ways to protect our bay. Pick up your trash.  Don’t pour chemicals down the sink.  Recycle.

In the end, I was so glad that my son guilted me I went on the field trip.  Not only did I have a great time learning with the kids, I’m pretty sure that this means I don’t have to go on another field trip for a while.  After all, the bus ride is an experience no parent should have to suffer through twice.

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