Thirty-six Frink-Chambers sixth grade GEAR UP students recently visited the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Students were divided into two groups for the day. The first group started the day on the “Behind the Scenes” tour in the small animal holding facility led by Julia Gibson, Oklahoma Aquarium Education Specialist, while the other group toured the aquarium exhibits. After the first tour, the second group experienced the “Behind the Scenes” tour, while the first group toured the exhibits.
“The small animal holding facility is important for several reasons,” said Gibson. “The facilities equalize chemistries of water for animals transported in to the aquarium as well as medicate, feed, and even raise aquatic babies.”
The small animal holding facility is currently home to an alligator snapping turtle, young sharks, tree frogs, a bearded dragon, hermit crabs, numerous fish, various snakes, and a few other aquatic animals. These animals typically spend several months being raised in the facility before being placed into the aquarium exhibits. During the tours, the groups were able to pet animals in the facility. The first group had the opportunity to pet a ball python, and the second group had the opportunity to pet the bearded dragon.
“Obviously, there is not an ocean near Oklahoma,” said Brianna Brassfield, GEAR UP Education Coordinator. “The Oklahoma Aquarium allows students to see aquatic plants and animals they may never have another chance to see. They also learn a lot of scientific facts about the different aquatic life.”
The Oklahoma Aquarium opened in May 2003. For nearly 15 years, the Oklahoma Aquarium has been dedicated to the mission of educating and inspiring conservation of the aquatic world through interactive discovery. The aquarium is home to numerous species of invertebrates and fish, including those found in Oklahoma. It also has the Sea Turtle Island, a turtle feeding pond, a living reef, stingray feeding, and shark and stingray touch tank.
After the tours, students enjoyed sandwiches catered by Party Serve. During lunch, students shared their favorite experiences at the aquarium as well as things they learned throughout the day.
“My favorite part of the aquarium was the shark tunnel,” said Frink-Chambers sixth grade student, Hayden Graham. “While I was in there, a bull shark swam over my head.”
Hayden said he had been to the aquarium in the past, but he likes to continue visiting because the exhibits periodically change.
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.