When it comes to the MARE program, it is best to just jump right in with both feet! Participants in the 2010 Summer Institute spent part of their first day seining in Barnegat Bay off of Seven Bridges Road in Tuckerton, with Dr. Motts Grothues. After a wonderful group effort at pulling in the nets, a plethora of species appeared! Needle fish, Puffer fish, Silversides, Pipe fish, Oyster Toadfish, sponges, crabs, oh my! The group collected a variety of species to bring back to the education center.
The participants examined the fish using the MARE activity “It Takes All Kinds” This is a group discussion while observing and recording information about the species form and function. This lesson is part of the fourth grade, Kelp Forest MARE curriculum. Further explanation can be found in your Summer Institute Binder for review.
Jumping in with both feet is an excellent analogy for how to begin the MARE program in your school or club. Don’t wait, don’t over analyze, just pick an activity that interests you or fits your materials on hand or current curriculum and learn as you try it! When the children ask you a question that you can’t answer, just use that opportunity to investigate it together or assign students to research the answer and share it with the class.
When bringing live species into your classroom, remember to check for allergies. Minimize the negative comments (Ewwww, yucky) by prompting the students to say “Isn’t that interesting” instead. Photographs could be used in place of real specimens. Websites often have digital pictures or descriptions. When shopping at a local bait store or fish market, red snapper, mackerel, bluefish are good choices.
Anne Carla Rovetta entertained the attendees with two animated, interesting folktales infused with science facts during their visit to the Rutgers University Marine Field Station. The group could easily see how Anne’s wonderful voices and storytelling talents could mesmerize a group of students. The participants even got involved with the jellyfish dance! A wonderful reminder to remember to laugh a little in each day! One of the stories Anne referred to is available online. “Raven Sets Things Right” is found at: http://www.ucan-online.org/legend.asp?legend=4693&category=6. A second book she referred to can be found for purchase online: Skunny Wundy (The Iroquois and Their Neighbors) by Arthur C. Parker. There is more to come from the talented Ms. Rovetta tomorrow!