Our first day back from Christmas break was set aside for staff development, and we were excited about the opportunity for a change of pace. Honestly, I am not from Albany and had never visited the RiverQuarium, didn’t know much about the Flint River, and had no expectations for the day.
It was a bright, crisp day as the blue herring swooped down from a tree branch to welcome us, and the turtles were performing their routine morning yoga on a large rock for each of us to enjoy. As a spectator it was breathtaking to witness the wildlife, scenery, and authenticity of the Flint RiverQuarium in Downtown Albany. Little did I know, what was pleasing to the eye was only the tip of the iceberg as there was so much more to gain from this phenomenal staff.
The staff were amped for our visit and planned an incredible morning for us to enjoy the animals and authentic displays while teaching us what was available to educators within the facility and on their website. We were overwhelmed by content spanning all disciplines for educators and students to use inside and outside of the classroom across grade level. Biology, ecology, and other science classes are obvious, but other classes, such as English, could do cross-curricular projects using informational text to guide research projects and writing. Also, there were ideas about using the drama department for developing a script for tours and the Spanish department translating for the community’s ESL students and Hispanic families.
While this place is all about learning, it also just plain FUN! There were games concerning water quality and flooding using technology and hands-on activities, a behind the scenes tour of the tanks and exhibits, a habitat for visitors to feed and observe different species of birds, and much more. I was particularly excited about the touch tanks where I was able to touch a crab, snail, and other marine life. I am confident that students would have a blast, and without realizing it, learn along the way.
The trip to the Flint RiverQuarium was a true day of discovery, collaboration, and enlightenment that opened our eyes to educational opportunities and fun-filled activities for DWS and the Albany community. Don’t believe me? Go check it out for yourself!
Morgan Basone, Middle School Humanities