In conjunction with the Marine Institute and Sealife, the two 5th classes had the fantastic opportunity of taking care of an aquarium with three creatures for five weeks. As preparation for the project the girls visited Sealife in January and learned how to look after an aquarium – cleaning the filter and glass, and how to ensure the temperature was always correct. The animals – a prawn, starfish and flounder were to be fed twice a week.
There was great excitement when Pat and Eimear from Sealife arrived with the creatures and placed them in their new home. The girls named the prawn Kasper , as he was a ghost prawn and you could see his organs through his skin, the starfish Khloe and the flounder Kourtney. The creatures settled in. The girls observed the “K” family frequently on a daily basis and discovered their very interesting and different personalities! They noted the observations, wrote them in the MEP diary and took photos. These were recorded on a chart three times daily.
The girls started working on many projects, presentations, dramas, stories, poetry and art relating to Kasper, Khloe and Kourtney.
It was vital that the temperature in the tank was always correct, around 15 degrees Celsius. There was a chiller connected to the aquarium, which would kick in if it got too high or low. We got a new wall thermometer in the class and five times daily, two girls in the class would record both temperatures to see if the classroom temperature had any effect on the temperature in the tank. The girls are doing graphs and pie charts to record the information.
The observers from both classes wrote a weekly newsletter and sent it, along with the best photos of the week to Loraine at the Marine Institute. It was put into a newsletter along with newsletters from the other schools involved in the project. It gave the girls a chance to hear what little adventures the creatures were having in the aquariums in other schools.
There were many ups and downs throughout the five weeks. The first week, our tank leaked and Pat arrived with a new one. Khloe lost an arm! During their research, the girls discovered that it could have been due to stress or overheating. Aisling from Sealife arrived and brought her back to Sealife, where she is now in quarantine. Khloe Jnr., our second starfish was put into her new home. She too lost an arm and Aisling returned to find that there was a problem with the water pump and replaced it. Khloe Jnr. was also brought back to Sealife and joined Khloe in quarantine. We were left with Kasper and Kourtney who provided us with lots of entertainment over the few weeks! The girls took some amazing videos and photos – Kourtney`s stunning eyes, Kasper`s skin after it was shed, his organs which were clearly visible and Khloe and Khloe Jnr`s. textured arms. Kourtney is mainly nocturnal and earlier in the project we seldom saw her. However, recently she would flap over and under the sand and incredible photos and videos were taken of her. It turned out that many 5th class girls are brilliant photographers and videographers!
The MEP project culminated with the arrival of Loraine from the Marine Institute. She listened to all the projects, PowerPoint presentations, dramas, poetry and raps which the girls worked on throughout the five weeks. She also admired and was very impressed with the clay sea creatures the girls had completed. Loraine presented each girl with a certificate for their involvement and hard work in completing the project. Later that day, we were all very sad as Pat and Aisling arrived to collect Kasper and Kourtney to return them to Sealife.
Well done to every girl in the two 5th classes. Each and every one took such great care of their charges and put their all into the projects and presentations…. a few definite marine biologists of the future in the making!