Local school’s shark dissection introduces elementary students to marine life, sciences - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Local school’s shark dissection introduces elementary students to marine life, sciences

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018 12:00 am | Updated: 11:39 am, Thu Jun 14, 2018.

Looking at specimens under a microscope, identifying trees and collecting samples of lake water are some memories we might carry away from biology classes in our school years. Was dissecting a shark one of those memories? It most likely was not, however, for second grade students at DeLalio Elementary School on Marine Corps Air Station New River, this will be the case. The students, along with Marine Corps volunteers, took part in dissecting sharks for their second-grade capstone project. For the school, this project is a way to introduce students to the sciences early on and the possible career fields they hold.

“This is the fourth year we have done the shark dissection with our second graders,” said Kara Ball, DES lead teacher. “I got this idea from my experience working with other Department of Defense Education Activity schools and saw how much fun the kids had. That summer before I came to DeLalio, there were many shark attacks in this area. I thought the dissection would be a great way to teach the kids about sharks and how they are important to the marine ecosystem.”

The children were dissecting spiny dogfish sharks, a species local to many parts of the world including here in eastern Carolina. The sharks are one to three feet in length. Ball wanted to use this species as specimens due to their smaller size. She did not want the children to be intimidated by the sharks before trying to learn about them.

“The way to combat fear is with knowledge,” said Ball. “I wanted to teach the kids that we are more of a danger to the sharks than they are to us, as many are losing great amounts of their habitat.”

Sharks serve as natural predators to many other species of fish, which help control the population. Sharks, like other predators, serve to assist in preserving a natural balance. Students were able to get a firsthand look at the anatomy of these marine animals and get more familiar with science.

“This dissection is a capstone project for our second graders,” said Ball. “Each grade level gets a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics based project to do.”

Many students are not introduced to dissection until middle or high school. The shark dissection gives the children an earlier introduction to life sciences and possible career options. For Marines volunteering, getting to work alongside the children was rewarding.

“I’m happy to be here helping the kids learn about nature,” said Lance Cpl. Elias Gomez, volunteer. “I have two younger brothers, so working with this project reminds me of things I would be doing with them.”

The staff of DES see this event as a way to further interact with the students and get them engaged in active learning.

“This project sparks their imaginations and curiosity,” said Wyonia Chevis, DES principal. “They sometimes find babies, tumors or other substances in the sharks and are amazed at their discoveries.”

Marine Corps volunteers along with Ball guided the students throughout the project and lead the dissections in small groups.

“I have enjoyed learning some with the kids and showing them the steps it takes to learn the anatomy of the sharks,” said Sgt. Christopher Cepeda, volunteer. “I’ve always had an interest in the subject of marine biology and interacting with the kids throughout this project is just a great experience.”

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