Panola GEAR UP students recently visited the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Students toured the aquarium and was given a behind–the–scenes tour of the kitchen where they prepare meals for all the exhibits and a behind–the–scenes tour of the shark tank.
Panola students identifying multiple aquatic species along the way. The students started the walkthrough by visiting the Amazing Intervertebrates exhibit. Students touched and learned about starfish and stingrays.
Next on the walkthrough they visited the Ozark Stream where they saw the river otters, beavers, and raccoons in their environment. Students then moved to the EcoZone where they could touch and feel sharks and stingrays. There were several exhibits the students were able to interact with and ask questions to the staff.
After visiting the behind–the–scenes view of the shark tank, students then viewed the shark exhibit by walking through the Shark Tunnel and exploring the bull sharks and nurse sharks in the tank. After walking through the tunnel, students learned more about the sharks with the information on the walls of the exhibit.
Last on the walk was the newest exhibit, Sea Turtle Island, the home of two 300-pound loggerhead sea turtles, reef sharks and tropical fish. Students learned educational components of the endangered sea turtles and how our actions can impact sea turtles and their habitat.
“Educational tours are an important part of Eastern’s GEAR UP program,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tara Martin.
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.