Education Month in Review: March 2023

By Cristina Reo

March brought forth sunny weather, longer days, herring spawns, and lots of PWSSC fun. Our theme for March was herring. Dr. Alysha Cypher kicked it off with a Tuesday Night Talk discussing her research on the oil effects on Pacific herring. We posted educational information on our social media channels about herring life cycles, migrations, and research; thank you for following along! The after school art program made origami fish art that were displayed in our entryway. We hosted a herring-themed Fun Friday where kids inspected a dissected herring, learned how gills and swim bladders function, and saw the differences among forage fish in Prince William Sound. 

We offered a myriad of activities, both old and new, for the adults of Cordova. We hosted our first annual Kelp the Sound workshop. This was a workshop designed to help future kelp farmers learn the ins and outs of farming. Special guests included Skye Steritz of Noble Ocean Farms, Caitlin McKinstry of Native Village of Eyak (NVE), and more! Speakers shared their expertise in various areas of kelp farming from the permitting process to harvesting and beyond. There were also four Tuesday Night Talks. Dr. Pete Rand of PWSSC discussed patterns in migration of adult sockeye salmon in a changing Copper River. Charlotte Westing of ADF&G gave an update on the status of moose populations. Steve Moffit of Audubon discussed his time on the Continental Divide Trail. Finally, Matt Piche of NVE discussed the spawning distribution and stock specific run timing of Copper River chinook salmon over time.  

Our monthly trivia at the Reluctant Fisherman was “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?,” where we highlighted what the students of Mt. Eccles Elementary are learning in our Discovery Room program. We hosted “tree yoga” where participants learned to root themselves into the ground and grow strong and tall like a tree. We orchestrated our first Science Charcuterie Game Night and it was a smashing success. Participants were creative and presented their best foot forward with fun charcuterie boards. They enjoyed amazing treats brought in by everyone while participating in some friendly competition in a three-round series of games about Latin roots.  

The kids of Cordova were treated to another month of fun, educational learning. Our Sea Squirts program theme was “kitchen science.” Kids used their fine motor skills and practiced making observations through a variety of squishy, messy, and colorful experiments using common household items. During spring break, we hosted a pajama and movie night. Families brought sleeping bags and pillows to watch a family-friendly movie and enjoy some popcorn. We also hosted Fun Friday: Rocks, where kids learned about the three different types of rocks – igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic – by creating their own rocks using crayons and heat. Little Dippers, our nature based group for preschool-aged kids, met weekly to explore, learn, and create. 

Our Discovery Room program met with almost every grade at Mt. Eccles Elementary School:  

  • We followed up on our cloud discussion from last month and taught kindergarteners about rain through the creation of rain sticks and the use of rain gauges.  
  • First graders built on their knowledge of light waves with an experiment that helped them explore the behaviors of light. They learned how to define transparent, translucent, reflective, and opaque and discovered how these types of materials interact with light waves. 
  • We met with second grade twice this month. We had a salad party and ate the lettuce they have been growing the past couple of months in their hydroponics garden. Second graders also learned about the parts of a plant, what defines a fruit, and found out what fruits have been disguising themselves as vegetables.  
  • Third graders built on their knowledge and discovered a third way to find out what birds eat: dissecting owl pellets! After dissecting the pellets they categorized their finds and tried to reconstruct a skeleton.  
  • Fifth graders were treated to a guest speaker, Dr. Pete Rand from the PWSSC. He talked to the students about the salmon life cycle. He was very impressed when the fifth graders already knew the whole life cycle. He also discussed how he conducts his research on salmon by tagging the salmon and tracking them as they go upstream. The fifth graders even pretended to be a salmon and go through a counting station. (See image above and video below.)
  • Sixth graders were introduced to the concept of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and starting working on their builds which will be tested in May at the local pool.
  • Our AmeriCorps member, Esa, met with the seventh grade Earth Science class to talk about the James Webb Space Telescope. They talked about its orbits and engineering. They also discussed what the telescope has helped discover and what it could possibly uncover next. 

We are excited to announce that Esa, has been working with Mr. Ammerman’s art class at the local high school to explore conservation through art. Students painted two containers for plastic recycling. The plastic will be used for a 3D sculpture highlighting the impacts of marine debris. You can view these bins and drop off your plastic recycling at the Cordova Center through mid-April.  

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



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