Imagine That Day
Written by Lauren “Noodle” O’Donnell
“‘Alright that’s everything! Van is all packed and ready to go!’ I called out as I slammed the large NESS van doors shut tight. Tyler, a NESS educator, and I hopped in the van and drove off to Ledyard, CT. We wove through the back roads of Ledyard, tunnels of trees, beautiful surrounding ponds, and countless rock walls. We arrived at Juliet W. Long School ready to teach.
Lucy the Whale awaited patiently in her blue bin tucked in tight and ready for her big reveal. The theme at Juliet W. Long today was ‘Imagine that Day’ and today was the day that students were going to experience something they may have NEVER imagined: entering a life-sized whale.
Carefully, I unrolled Lucy and placed a fan at her tail end where the students would enter. She quickly came to life as she expanded and stretched to a whopping 47 feet long! I set up stations around her where I placed the pelts, skulls, and teeth for students to touch, examine, wonder, and learn from.
As I finished turning the gymnasium into an underwater adventure, the double doors at the front of the gym creaked open. A teacher with a clipboard in hand and a line of tiny ducklings trailing behind her, entered our marine mammal world.
Sounds of whispers and gasps filled the room, ‘I think that’s it! I think that’s the whale!’
Students made their way through each station as they guessed what skull, pelt, and tooth belonged to what marine mammal. They learned that whales have lungs to breath air just like us. Once they finished the stations along the outside of the whale, they took off to the inside of Lucy’s body.
As I guide students through these hands-on experiences, I hope they will be inspired to continue to ask questions and learn about the ocean and its many wonders. On ‘Imagine that Day’ at Juliet W. Long, I was surrounded by our tiny future scientists with big imaginations full of excitement and the drive to learn as they dove into a new world of knowledge under the sea.”