Tannehill seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students visit the Oklahoma Aquarium

Twenty Tannehill seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students recently visited the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks.

Students began the day on the “Behind the Scenes” tour led by Jamie Gaylor, Oklahoma Aquarium Volunteer Coordinator.

“Our moral responsibility is to give the animals the very best quality of life,” Gaylor said. “Animal welfare comes before anything else at the aquarium.”

The first stop on the tour was Sea Turtle Island, an exhibit that is home to two loggerhead sea turtles and tropical fish. Students toured behind the 56,000-gallon tank, learning about the educational components of the endangered status of sea turtles, their important role in the wild, and how the actions of people can impact sea turtles and their ocean habitat. Students also learned how the Oklahoma Aquarium uses mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration systems to convert local fresh water into water suitable for the animals.

The second stop on the tour was the kitchen, where specific foods and amounts are prepared daily for the animals in the aquarium. Only restaurant Grade A quality food is served to the animals.

The last stop on the tour was Shark Adventure, an exhibit of one of the world’s largest collection of bull sharks. Students toured behind the shark tank, learning a detailed amount of information about the bull shark species, which are known as one of the most aggressive species in the world.

After the private tour, students explored the other aquarium exhibits, which included The EcoZone, Ozark Stream, South Pacific Reef, Aquatic Oklahoma, Extreme Fishes, Marvels and Mysteries, and Amazing Invertebrates.

The Oklahoma Aquarium opened in May 2003. For nearly 16 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 more than 8,000 animals, including species of invertebrates and fish, a turtle feeding pond, a living coral reef, stingray feeding, and shark and stingray touch tank.

“Oklahoma is inland, and many of our students have never visited an ocean,” 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 as well as learn detailed scientific facts about different aquatic life.”

After the tour, students enjoyed lunch at Golden Corral. During lunch, students shared their favorite experiences at the aquarium as well as things they learned throughout the day.

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. In 2017, Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and serves over 3,000 students in 39 area schools.

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