Many schools take students on field trips to give them a hands on experience. That’s not so simple when the lesson is 63 feet below the ocean’s surface. Some second graders at the Worthington Hooker School, in New Haven have the answer. They visited ‘Mission 31,’ an underwater habitat nine miles off the coast of Florida, without ever leaving the Elm City.
“We’ve been skyping all year, this is actually our 55th Skype,” says teacher Tim Shortt. “My kids have been exposed to several sea turtle experts, shark experts, they got to see someone swimming with sharks, feeding sharks, so it’s been awesome.”
Via Skype, students got a tour of Aquarius. It’s the only underwater marine laboratory in the world. Giving the tour, and taking questions from students, Fabien Cousteau. He is the grandson of legendary undersea explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
The second graders got a glimpse of the underwater habitat’s galley, sleeping quarters, and met some of the scientists conducting studies in the ocean. The journey was done completely online, using a camera, laptop, and projector.
“I kind of felt like I was in the aquaribus and I was looking down out the window and seeing some octopuses and rays,” says second grader Gabriel Fulton.
His classmate Avry Roadbheffer says,”My favorite part was the tour. They showed us the place where they get in and out (of the underwater lab), and the bunk room where they sleep.”
Educators say this is a great experience, and wish more students could experience these types of virtual trips.
“The kids can do some research whether they’re reading in books or checking out online sources, but then to be able to connect with actual experts, you’re not going to expect someone like Fabian Cousteau to be able to visit your classroom,” says Shortt. “This is the way you get him to visit your classroom.”