Cal Poly students brought the “learn by doing” philosophy to children in the community Saturday at Explore the Oceans Day at the Avila Beach Sea Life Center.

At the algae station, children taste edible seaweed and learn about the importance of algae in marine environments. There were also stations for marine skeletons and invertebrae exploration tanks. Amber Kiwan – Mustang Daily

Children of all ages participated in hands-on activities designed to teach them about marine life and ocean science.

“The ocean is interesting to everyone, especially when they get to touch it,” Avila Beach Sea Life Center employee Sierra Stockton said. “A few kids have even asked me if they could take the creatures home.”

Although the children do not get to keep the marine life to bring home as pets, they all had the opportunity to touch the sea creatures and explore the aquariums inside the Sea Life Center. The outdoor activities run by Cal Poly students provided additional learning opportunities.

Set up beneath a clear sunny sky, this part of the event featured five interactive learning stations on the lawn outside of the Sea Life Center.

All of the touchable exhibits allowed the children to explore real marine life. An algae station displayed uses of algae and even offered edible algae to the participants.

Other stations featured sand from around the world where children could make sand art, an invertebrate exploration tank with more touchable live creatures and a station with marine creatures’ skulls and bones.

Children searched through buckets at the beach bucket station, where they learned about all the different items that could be found on a beach.

“It’s basically a whole beach in a bucket,” kinesiology senior Erin Best said. “There are shells, trash, feathers, beach wood, sand dollars and other things. The kids really enjoy it. They all like to dig through the buckets and get their hands dirty.”

Best, like the other Cal Poly students who worked the event, was there as a part of the course SCM 470: Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences.

“I really enjoy the class,” Best said. “It’s interesting to learn how people learn, and how they react to education.”

Best said although she is undecided about her future career goals, the class has made her consider a career in informal education.

Biological sciences professor Nikki Adams teaches SCM 470 and said it is made up of mostly science and education students.

“They are learning about sharing marine science with the community,” Adams said.

This is the first quarter the course was offered and is part of a National Science Foundation Grant.

The class will host another Explore the Oceans Day on Feb. 26, as well as a museum-style exhibit on campus March 9.

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