Fanshawe 7th and 8th grade GEAR UP students recently visited Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. Wonders of Wildlife has 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds in the 350,000 square-foot complex. It contains more than 1.5 miles of trails through authentic, immersive habitats and features 1.5 million gallons of freshwater and saltwater aquariums using innovative designs and over-the-top creativity that transports guests to the heart of the ocean.
First stop on the tour was the Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium, a 300,000-gallon circular “open ocean” habitat, teeming with life, including zebra sharks, leopard rays and sea turtles; look in awe at a mesmerizing living bait ball; and discovered the Great Barrier Reef, a towering saltwater aquarium, packed with colorful reef fish, including Maori wrasse, potato cod and more.
Fanshawe students discovered what it’s like to touch a stingray, traverse an underwater tunnel surrounded by giant river monsters and come face-to-face with sharks, jellyfish, snakes, iguanas, eagles, owls and more. Throughout the tour they encountered more than 800 different species.
Next, students toured the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum. This is a state-of the-art 4D dioramas with the sights, sounds and smells of the planet’s most extreme wildlife habitats. Each environment features massive hand-painted murals, native foliage and special effects that deliver the chill of the Arctic, the cold winds of the Alps, the dry sun of the African Savanna and more. Students walked through the museum getting the experience to learn about wildlife and record-setting game animals, striking exotic animal habitats, and discover the origins of the conservation movement with historic artifacts and milestones that celebrate conservation efforts record setting.
“Educational tours are an important part of Eastern’s GEAR UP program,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tara Martin. “This was a great opportunity for these students to have hands on experience with species they have been learning about in the classroom.”
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.