Lower School

Students Visit Crystal Cove State Park Tide Pools for Enriching Cross-Divisional Field Study

As part of an innovation grant, grade 2 students joined Upper School marine science students for a special trip to observe tide pools.
As part of an innovation grant developed by Upper School science teacher Jennifer Ross-Viola, in collaboration with grade 2 teachers Clementine Saggiani, Erin Moore and Maclay Gallman, grade 2 students joined Upper School marine science students for a special trip to Crystal Cove State Park to observe its tide pools.
The Upper School marine science class joined the Lower School students who took advantage of a recent mid-day low tide to conduct a field study at Rocky Bight tide pools, one of the four tide pool viewing areas in Crystal Cove State Park, where they  observed the abundance of life lurking within them. The unit lesson included a deep look into tide pool organisms, and programming centered around marine debris. Special participation from Lower School science teacher David Beshk also added to the learnings by way of an additional rotation to learn more about geographic coastal landforms.
The Lower School students were divided into three groups, with seven Upper School marine science students presenting lessons surrounding tide pool organisms. The Upper School marine science students created creative, age-appropriate models of adaptations that tide pool critters use to survive in an always-changing and tough environment.  After explaining their interactive models, the Upper School students helped the grade 2 students tour the tide pools and found Pacific ochre sea stars, aggregating anemones, blue-banded hermit crabs, striped shore crabs, and many more animal and kelp species. In addition, other toys or visual tools were utilized to imitate organisms' behavioral adaptations to better understand how these organisms survive their environment. 
Mrs. Ross-Viola remarked, “The marine science students deepened their understanding of the rocky intertidal zone and gained a new-found appreciation for what it takes to be a Lower School teacher, if only for a day!”
Meanwhile, Mr. Beshk utilized the tide pools setting by conducting a unit lesson nearby.  Mr. Beshk led students to build coastal landforms similar to a unit lesson on local key geographic features such as creeks, valleys, coasts specific to the California Region. The exercise used styrofoam pool noodles cut into pieces, and red solo cups to mimic and recreate these geographic landscapes.
The tide pool curriculum connected students across multiple age groups through shared learning experiences, and is one of the ways innovation grants transform education at St. Margaret’s. School leaders offer innovation grants for teachers interested in developing new curricula to introduce in the classroom. The grants encouraged teachers from different divisions to collaborate and write curriculum in new and innovative ways.
St. Margaret’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean brings valuable experiential-learning possibilities to the marine science class. Dr. Ross-Viola tries to coordinate a visit to the tide pools each year, working with student schedules and, just as importantly, the tide schedules to find an ideal day to visit.
Marine science is a semester elective which covers life in a marine environment, the chemical and physical features of sea water, marine ecosystems, anatomy and physiology of marine organisms, and the human impact on the oceans.
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