Investigating San Francisco Bay Life
Written by Andrew Patel, Program Coordinator
“These fish are so amazing! I think they are really beautiful.” said Landry, a student in Ms. McIntire’s class. “Are we going to get to hold the fish?” asked Yarelli. GreenLeaf Elementary School third grade students in Oakland were excited to investigate Dungeness Crabs and Striped Bass fish and were thrilled to learn biology like real scientists. “I wonder how they move through the water, they must use their caudal fins to swim,” Sebastian shared.
I held a Striped Bass to share the fish anatomy and to demonstrate the most interesting ways to investigate the fish. As I lifted and moved the fins students gasped in excitement. Alex shared, “I think the dorsal fins have spikes to protect them from predators!”
After the demonstration the students investigated the bay organisms. “I want to hold the crab,” said Jasmine eagerly, “I think the pattern on the shell is really interesting!” The students used their senses to study the anatomy and the adaptations of the organisms. “The shell is really hard, and the space between the joints is soft, the abdomen is squishy and some parts of the crab are furry,” observed Carlos.
The students were focused and engaged. “You can see the gills and the red inside the fish,” said Alexa. “Wow! The tongue is really sharp and the teeth are so spikey!” Jordan replied, “Probably so it can break up its prey.”
After the students said goodbye to the fish and crabs, they washed their hands and shared what they learned from the investigation. Jackie said, “I found out that a crab has an abdomen that opens.” Kearsten said, “I liked feeling the way the Striped Bass body moves, it moves like an ‘S’ like this,” she and other students moved their hands back and forth, “I imagine it swims through water really well.”
Studying real organisms from the San Francisco Bay helps students connect with life in the watershed we all share and inspires them to help to protect and care for this special environment.