Friday, June 8, 2018

Observe a Pond Like You Would the Ocean

I've talked with parents visiting the aquarium who say their child loves the ocean and wants to become a marine biologist, but...they live in Nebraska or Iowa or somewhere far away from the ocean.  What can they do? 

Marine biologists are scientists who use their keen observation skills to study the ocean. As a teacher, I believe it is never too soon to start learning those skills. If you don't have an ocean in your backyard, how about a smaller body of water?  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Is there a pond, stream, river, or lake nearby where your budding scientist can do some exploring?  You'll find lots of aquatic critters to observe: snails, crayfish, tadpoles, etc.  


Bring along a small dip net, a bucket, and a magnifying glass.  

Dip Net sells a Minnow Bucket Fishing Dip Net for $1.66.  Or, you could always make your own net.  There are several Youtube videos showing how to do just that.  

Once you get to your destination, fill your bucket with water from the source. It will help your little critters feel more comfortable while they're being observed.  Now lower your dip net all the way down in the water, gently dragging it along the bottom.  Don't scoop too deep, just a surface scrap.  

Even little naturalists can get in on the fun.

My Grandson Dip Netting

Pull your net up slowly, letting the water and sediment seep out.  Then transfer your critters to your bucket.  If your net is empty, try again in a different location.

When you're ready, observe your findings.  You can leave them in the bucket or gently take them out for a brief closer look.  You might find some snail eggs like below.

Red Snail Eggs  

If your child likes to draw, perhaps he/she would like to sketch some of the critters.  Others might want to take a photo. When finished observing, return all bucket occupants back to their home.

If you'd like to do some research on your findings, Parents Magazine recommends the following two books: Pond, by Donald Silver, and Look Closer: Pond Life, by Barbara Taylor and Frank Greenaway. 

Let the observing begin.

Image Credits:

1.  Girl in Aquarium by paulbr75 is licensed by CCO Creative Commons

2.  "Pond" [Image by Camilo Guzman via Flickr].

3.  "Boy with Net" [Image by author: Norma Vantrease].

4.  "Red Snail Eggs" [Image by Henrique Pinto via Flickr].    

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