By Joy Kacoroski, Interpretive Specialist, Deception Pass State Park
Are you smarter than a third grader? Can you name a marine mammal that grows big, eats small and travels far? Third graders in the Oak Harbor and Anacortes school districts can!
This winter, interpretive staff at Deception Pass State Park were excited to announce the launch of a new educational program for third-grade students. Designed specifically to meet Next Generation Science Standards the program, “Gentle Giants of the Sea,” invites students to explore some of the physical and behavioral adaptations of gray whales while in their own classroom.
During the 90-minute program students are given the opportunity to develop a real-world understanding of the word adaptation. Students are able to view the park’s 9.5-foot-long whale skull, filter for “krill” and discover some of the challenges gray whales face on their annual migration.
So far, the program launch has been well received by schools and park staff have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to visit local classrooms. The most popular aspect of the program has been the introduction of the new board game, Migration Mania. The board game, designed by staff for the program, requires students to explore some of positive and negative factors influencing a gray whale’s migration as they move their playing piece from the Arctic to Baja California and back.
As winter turns to spring, and the weather improves, park staff and visitors alike eagerly wait for the return of these amazing marine mammals to our coastal waters.