Education Month in Review: January 2023

By Cristina Reo and Kate Trudeau

January went by in the blink of an eye for the education staff at the Prince William Sound Science Center. We had a month full of outdoor adventures, children laughing, Discovery Room, and bringing back old traditions. 

This month we pulled everyone out of the winter funk and got outside and moving. We hosted a family hike to Odiak Pond for families looking to get out of the house during winter break. Little Dippers, our nature based exploration group, met once a week. They spent their time outside exploring, learning, and creating. Our Sea Squirts program explored snow. Although inside, kids looked at snow under a magnifying glass, melted ice, and experimented with the density of ice.

We hosted two Fun Fridays in January. The first was whale themed. Kids participated in an interactive blubber demonstration to feel and understand how important blubber is to animals in arctic and subarctic waters. Families also measured how long whales are, learned fun facts about whales, discovered the difference in feeding habits between toothed whales and baleen whales, and made whale crafts. The second Fun Friday’s theme was animal tracks. Kids walked like different animals, created models of scat with edible playdough, and made plaster casts of wolf tracks to take home.

Our second edition of Family Astronomy, with the help of Marita Kleissler from Current Rhythms, explored the aurora borealis through movement. Kids danced the science behind the phenomenon of the northern lights. The art kept flowing as they made music out of aurora data, painted the northern lights with ice, and made bracelets to remember the elements that create the colors we see in the sky.  

Discovery Room was back in full swing this new year. The education team visited all the grades at Mount Eccles Elementary School. 

  • Kindergarten explored snow and ice through art and experiments.
  • We partnered with Native Village of Eyak to integrate science and culture. First graders built upon their scientific knowledge of sound waves through learning about traditional drums. (See image below)
  • Second grade planted seeds for their spring hydroponics unit. (See image above)
  • Third grade explored bird feeding strategies through an experiential learning game.
  • Fourth grade took their knowledge of the food chain to the next level by exploring the energy pyramid through natural observation outside and a relay race. 
  • Fifth grade has been learning about food chains and food webs. We introduced invasive species and their effect on the food web. 
  • Sixth grade’s classroom was transformed into a mock SERVS headquarters. Sixth graders experimented with different ways to clean up oil spills and are excited to participate in a pretend SERVS drill in February. 

The theme for the month of January was cetaceans. We learned about whales and porpoises in the Prince William Sound area. We hosted several cetacean-themed events throughout the month, including the Cetacean After Hours event which included nature journaling and opportunities to learn a bit more about whales. 

We hosted two yoga night sessions. In keeping with cetacean month, the first theme was whales. Aviva reminded everyone that whales descended from land mammals and that is why they swim up and down versus fish who swim left to right. We explored yoga positions that got us in touch with our inner whale. The second yoga night theme was ice worms, in preparation for the Ice Worm Festival. Speaking of Ice Worm, the Prince William Sound Science Center hosted an array of Ice Worm themed events in addition to yoga, including ice worm Sea Squirts, ice worm trivia for adults, and ice worm Fun Friday. 

Tuesday Night Talks were brought back in January. Ironically, our first talk was on a Sunday. This special time and date was due to the fact that director and filmmaker, Rick Rosenthal, was in town for a limited time. Rick discussed his upcoming film Planet California, and showed the audience a sneak preview. He also talked briefly about his work on his newest movie with manta rays. Our first official Tuesday Night Talk was presented by Raven Cunningham of the Chugach Regional Resources Commission. She talked about their work with marine mammals in the Prince William Sound. The next Tuesday’s talk was presented by Milo Burcham of Audubon. He talked about western Australia. The final Tuesday Night Talk in January was presented by Caitlin McKinstry of the Native Village of Eyak. She discussed Alaskan mariculture. 

The education staff is looking forward to seeing you this February for more events. Check our calendar here.