Marine Biology students experience hands-on learning at VIA Aquarium

marine biology students pose for a pictureStudents in BPMS’ Marine Biology class concluded their course with a trip to see the creatures at the VIA Aquarium in Schenectady. It capped off the ten-week course that introduces students to the oceans and marine life within them.

BPMS science teacher Kelly DiNatalie oversees the course, but says that students are the ones really driving the class. They create encyclopedia slide shows to teach their peers about marine life, and present to the class. Normally, the course concludes with a science symposium for parents and students at the end of the course.

“I think it’s awesome that we have this opportunity at the Middle School,” said Mrs. DiNatalie. “Getting kids into exploratory science at the middle school level, that was a niche that hadn’t been filled before. Kids are really intrigued by getting a choice of what they study in middle school.”

Mrs. DiNatalie says the Marine Biology class gets students out of their comfort zone with class presentations and having students drive their own learning. Even if students are shy at first, Mrs. DiNatalie says that they eventually look forward to presenting and their peers commenting and asking questions. “They’re intrigued and interested, they’re extending their own learning,” said Mrs. DiNatalie. “They’re making connections to things going on in the world right now.”

The trip to the VIA Aquarium at the end of the unit gives students a chance to experience what they’ve been learning about hands-on. They get to interact with the animals there and see things that the general public doesn’t. “It’s an eye opening experience, going to the aquarium,” said Mrs. DiNatalie. “When the kids go to the aquarium armed with knowledge, they have a different appreciation of the creatures and what they have learned. And I think they are more appreciative.”