Education Program Updates

By Cristina Reo

November 2022 was a very busy month for the education department. The month started off with a field trip to Power Creek for the fifth graders to retrieve Coho salmon eggs for the Salmon Tank and apply their knowledge about watersheds. The egg-take field trip, which has become a fifth-grade tradition, is where we collect eggs and milt from ready-to-spawn salmon.

Unfortunately, the eggs were not ready on the day of our field trip. However, we were able to discuss how watersheds function along with their importance and demonstrate salmon redds in varying environmental conditions. With the help of our community partners: Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Copper River Watershed Project, and Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation, we successfully got fertilized eggs into the tank on November 15. The fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at Mt. Eccles Elementary School will be taking care of these salmon all winter long, and the salmon will be released in the spring.

On November 3, the education staff traveled to Sitka for WhaleFest. Hosted by the Sitka Sound Science Center, WhaleFest is a community-based festival to celebrate the marine world. The PWSSC education team hosted a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Challenge with 39 attending high school students from all over Southeast Alaska. They built and operated ROVs to complete a series of tasks that simulated preventing and responding to a mock oil spill. We often host ROV Challenges in community pools or harbors, but this was a first: the ROV Challenge took place in a “raceway” at the Sitka Sound Science Center’s salmon hatchery – how cool!

Little Dippers, our nature-based group for preschoolers, met once a week. They spent their time exploring, learning, and creating. For the month of November, the Little Dippers went on a treasure hunt and sought out the last remains of fall colors, explored varying ice depths, learned about denning bears, and focused on nature and gratitude.

PWSSC’s Sea Squirts program, for kids ages 3-5, started this month. The Sea Squirts learned about balance by using their own bodies, playing games, and building towers. We also hosted a Fun Friday Owls program. Families learned about different species of owls, identified owl body parts, made their own owl eye mask, and dissected owl pellets.

We slowed things down with a hibernation themed yoga night led by Aviva. Participants held poses that slowed their breathing and conserved energy, similar to a bear going into hibernation. The month was capped off with a plankton-themed trivia night at The Reluctant Fisherman. It was our biggest crowd yet, with seven teams competing. We would like to give a special thanks to Jess Pretty, our research technician, for hosting such a fun-filled night!

Education Director, Lauren Bien, playing “Guess Whooo” with kids at Fun Friday: Owls

A student-built ROV responding to a mock “oil spill” from the ROV Challenge in Sitka at WhaleFest