Allons voir! It's Aquatica 2001

April 04, 2001 12:00 am
Tentacles of a giant squid snatched the attention of South Baker School fifth-graders Tuesday as they toured the display at Baker Middle School. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Tentacles of a giant squid snatched the attention of South Baker School fifth-graders Tuesday as they toured the display at Baker Middle School. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).


Of the Baker City Herald

A new undersea museum has temporarily surfaced at Baker Middle School. But if youre going to view the imaginative exhibits, youd better hurry.

Seventh grade biology students of Cheyleen Davis with a big assist from the culinary efforts of Kathy Parrys Family and Consumer Studies students have transformed their second-floor school wing into a museum-quality display. Called Aquatica 2001, the student-built exhibits will be open to the public during parent-teacher conferences noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. through noon Friday.

As undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau was fond of saying, Allons voir. That, a helpful Aquatica sign will tell you, means Lets have a look.

The many projects came from both above the ocean surface a homemade surfboard, a model of an aircraft carrier as well as the myriad forms of life found below.

On Tuesday morning, Davis gave fifth grade students from South Baker Elementary School a guided tour. Even a quick look at Aquatica 2001 produces pearls of knowledge dredged up by students, who have been working on their projects since last fall:

o Killer whales, says John Bates, sometimes play with their food, tossing bodies up to 10 feet in the air before swallowing their victims.

o According to Mac Strommer and Mark Kerns, the German battleship DKM Bismarck fought impossible odds during its May, 1941 battle in the North Atlantic. In all, the ship was hit by more than 400 shells and 12 torpedoes before going down, along with its crew of about 2,200 sailors. Fellow students Shea Spriet and Theo Vowell fashioned a beautiful model of the unsinkable pride of the German navy.

o Jason MacManiman says that a tiger shark feels no pain when it attacks and kills its prey because it stops responding to its sensory glands.

o Reanna Taylors puffin model demonstrates how the bird can stuff up to 60 tiny fish into its odd beak. It uses its tongue to align heads on one side, tails on the other. Taylors choice for representing the fish? Gummi worms, of course.

o A starfish, says Kayla Flynn, who made hers out of foam and tiny pieces of straw, likes to eat things bigger than itself. To accomplish this difficult feat, starfishes will, she says, pull out their stomachs to get the job done. When they are finished eating, their stomachs return to inside their bodies.

o Teacher assistant Amber Webber helped students assemble a life-size polar bear for the exhibit. For the fur, students used strips of paper that had been shredded at the 5J district office.

o Together with his father, Alvin Linde made a real surfboard. After the exhibit, Davis said, the younger Linde plans to try it out.

Davis said the projects are part of student benchmarks required by the State Board of Education. Once theyd completed a three-page research paper on their chosen topic and built some kind of model or demonstration, they had to persuade a group of judges fellow students that their work was worthy of inclusion in Aquatica 2001.

It is that persuasive ability, Davis said, that the state board is looking for from Oregons middle school students.

Museum guests wont go away from their visit hungry, and they may learn something as they snack on pieces of cake that will be on sale.

Parry and her students came up with an under-the-sea dessert item after reading their share of food labels at the grocery store. Students discovered that carrageenan, a thickening agent made from seaweed, is found in low-fat mayonnaise, ice cream and whipped topping. So theyve spent their week whipping up a little treat they like to call seaweed cake 25 of them for the expected large crowd.

Last year, students devoted their museum to flight. Next years topic, Davis says, has not yet been decided.

When a visitor suggests interplanetary travel, the veteran teacher smiles, thanks him for his suggestion, then says, Well see.

Allons voir.