One of the milestones Far Hills Country Day School students look forward to is the Grade 5 Cape Cod Whale Watching Trip. Spring 2020 threatened to deny our Grade 5 students this experience, but Far Hills Country Day School teachers Maedean Kramer and Mary Wagner didn’t let COVID-19 stop them! They teamed up to create a memorable virtual whale trip.
“The fifth graders really enjoyed the unique experience of having a virtual whale day filled with a variety of activities,” said Ms. Wagner. “Having a whole day dedicated to exploring these phenomenal aquatic mammals led to a new appreciation of how important it is to protect these species in order to preserve an amazingly diverse planet.”
The day started with students sketching whales and going outside on their own to complete a Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt. Then guest speaker Jesse Mechling of The Center for Coastal Studies out of Provincetown, MA, gave a Zoom presentation about sea life in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The presentation included humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, right whales, and a blue whale spotted off Cape Cod swimming with a tiny minke whale just two weeks prior! Mechling shared the story of Spinnaker, a humpback whale known to have been entangled at least four times.
After Mechling’s presentation, students watched a video from the Dolphin Fleet, when the Far Hills Class of 2021 went on their Whale Trip to Provincetown in May 2018.
In the afternoon, students participated in breakout sessions. Their choices included:
Google Expeditions using virtual reality with Patty Sullivan, Far Hills Director of Instructional Technology: Giants of the Ocean and Ocean Safari.
Create musical compositions by manipulating actual whale sound recordings with Amy Burns, Far Hills music teacher using Whalesynth and Soundtrap.
Watercolor Whales with Roseanne Panico, Far Hills art teacher.
Black and White disruptive coloration camouflage art with Mary Wagner, Far Hills science teacher: learn how ocean animals use their colorings to protect themselves in the water.
To end the day, students presented their whale research to the group. Students worked in pairs and created a Google Site website featuring research slides.
Far Hills educators continue to impress us with the many creative ways they help our students on the Far Hills journey, even through Distance Learning during a pandemic.