Friday, September 12, 2008

A Passion for the Pacific

Our entire family, individually and collectively, has had a life-long love for the ocean. We are very aware, from the crowds that invariably compete for parking space, that we are not alone in our passion. Sharing the fascination with so many others can intensify the feelings - the good and the frustrating. We definitely prefer less-crowded, more peaceful ocean adventures. Even though we are at times required to join the masses, our passion just seems to build.

All this to say, we were not at all surprised when Jelly asked if we could study the ocean in school this year. Though we've visited lots of ocean-themed nature centers, aquariums - from tiny ones to Sea World, rescue centers, harbors, and even gone whale-watching twice, we have not yet made a focused/formal study of marine science. There was absolutely no hesitation before she received a resounding, "Of course we can!"

As I mentioned, being blessed to live so close to the coast, we have taken many field trips over the years relating to the ocean in lots of different ways. Simple beach trips can be amazing and provide an abundance of scientific opportunities - wading/swimming/body surfing, tidepool investigations, pier walks, nature "hikes", bird watching, people watching, sand-castle building, shell/driftwood/rock collecting, kite flying, dog/frisbee exhibitions, surfer/wind-surfer/sailboat observing, and so many other activities. Anyone who has ever experienced just relaxing and absorbing the mystical healing effects of the water and waves becomes an instant ocean fan!

How does that work? Something so huge makes you feel so small, but somehow NOT insignificant, rather a part of something completely wonderful.

So, in addition to the science studies we do in conjunction with our Learning Adventures curriculum this year, we will be learning more about our beloved ocean, and all things related. We're not putting a timeframe on this particular study - it will most likely NEVER end! :o)

We did give it an "official" beginning, however. We joined with many other homeschoolers for one of two days (The year they did just ONE day, they found out just how many homeschoolers there are in this area!) set aside just for us at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, CA. In addition to their regular exhibits, on homeschool days they set up demonstrations and hands-on experiences and experiments that add to the learning opportunities and adventures.

Touch tanks, for example, and the famous "blubber" experiment (involving putting your hand into extremely cold water) to name just a couple. We found ALL the employees/volunteers to be extremely helpful and extra friendly. One kind lady, just because we were there, came out from "the back", and caught us as we were walking away from a tank to tell us that she was just about to feed the fish/eels in that particular tank. As we watched, fascinated, she told us more about the tank's inhabitants, including the fact that one of the new eels had been named after her, in honor of the 500 hours that she had volunteered. Just a little thing, but a nice personal touch.

And there is so much MORE available! The discount and benefits offered were too good to pass up, so we're now annual pass holders and will be going regularly to the Aquarium this year. Our plan is to make LOTS of visits and focus on a different section each time, though I'm sure we'll be regular guests of the seals and sea lions. The girls have a special friend there. :o)

It is just so incredible to experience the ocean's magic - it has caught us, hook, line, and sinker!

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At Fri Sep 26, 07:52:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary because of being on the grandparen'ts boat so often as a kid. I love a good picnic by the water where I can see boats. Oceans are totally cool! Good choice, Jelly! :)


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