Marine Biologists in the Making—Kindergarten Goes Tidepooling

by | May 31, 2024 | Learning, Lower School

Rashi Kindergartners spent a beautiful, sunny Wednesday on their annual trip to Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, MA. After completing their marine biology unit, in which students learned about the unique lives, adaptations, and habitats of various species, the children came face-to-face with these fun critters right in their own backyard. 


Led by expert field scientists and educators, the class first toured the historic bunker-turned-research center, peering into labs as scientists and students extracted DNA samples. They got to look at the wet and dry suits used by scientists for dives, and view an in-progress setup for a current research project. 


“They’re putting blue crabs, lobsters, and black bass into a pool together to see how they interact,” explained Harper D. 


“As the water gets warmer and environments change, the blue crabs are moving farther up north. It’s important for us to know what they’ll do when they see the lobsters and bass—which really means who will eat who, and how that will affect their populations,” said their lead guide, Sierra.  


Next, the children waded through the tidepools to search for creatures themselves. Using a reference sheet, Kindergartners identified local species while applying knowledge from their classroom, such as how animals use camouflage and how salinity levels affect the water’s inhabitants. “We used a measuring tool to see how salty the water was,” said Sebastian C., who used a hydrometer with Sierra. When animals were found, they were then transferred into collection buckets.

“I loved holding all the animals in the tidepools, like crabs and snails!” said Josh C.  


After combing through the pools, students brought their buckets of critters inside to the touch-tanks. Here, they saw even more animals, such as sea urchins and flounders, while also learning how to handle them with care and respect. The children were ecstatic as they pet the backs of fish, felt the tail of an American lobster, and watched sea urchins wiggle their spikes up close and personal. “My favorite was holding the moon snail,” said Hannah H. The students were inquisitive and attentive as their guides explained fascinating features, such as the mouths of the urchins, or the sieve plates on the starfish, which allow them to take in water to move! For those who were done touching live animals, there was an array of microscopes, shells, and baleen (comb-like plates used for filter-feeding in place of teeth) from whales for observation.

The Kindergarten trip to Nahant is a wonderful way for students to apply their cumulative knowledge to hands-on, experiential learning activities. As the class departed, one student excitedly proclaimed, “I’m going to live here!”