Project day coral reef in the primary school Lehndorf

Marine biology with all senses

After the first project day on coral reefs in November 2018 was so well received, the second project day took place on 9 March 2020 at the Lehndorf primary school in Braunschweig. This time it was again an instructive and successful day for all participants. After an introductory presentation, three stations invited the participants to get to know marine animals up close, to make microscopic examinations, to browse through illustrated books and much more.

The project day for the fourth grade was introduced by the presentation “Coral Reefs and Climate Protection” by marine biologist Stephan Moldzio. He introduced the pupils to the exciting world of coral reefs in a child-friendly manner and sensitized the young audience to one of the most important issues of the time: climate protection. A vivid poster illustrated the existential threat that global warming and ocean acidification pose to coral reefs. Afterwards the children were given the opportunity to become active themselves: In groups they went through different stations where they researched, discovered and learned with fun and enthusiasm.

Probably the most exciting station – in the truest sense of the word – was the seawater aquarium with its numerous inhabitants. The pupils marvelled at living corals, sea urchins, brittle stars, hermit crabs, algae and other sea animals. But it did not stop at observing. The animals were also taken on the hand and looked at from all sides. To touch an unknown creature, such as the brittle star with its five spiky arms, took some effort at first. I wonder if it stings? Or even bites? How does this animal behave? But all the children were brave and obviously enjoyed experiencing the interesting marine animals up close. The immediate understanding with all senses is especially important for the understanding of nature. By overcoming, approaching and close observation, fear of contact is reduced. Respect for the creatures and an interest in their way of life and their special features are developed. Understanding and enthusiasm for nature – the basis for environmental and nature conservation is created in childhood!

Another station was the book table, where children could browse through thick books and epic picture books on the subject of sea life and oceans at their leisure: Pictures of fish, corals and invertebrates from all over the world and there were exciting photos of sharks and whales to discover. After a short time the children were absorbed. Through the intuitive selection of illustrative material, it soon became clear who was enthusiastic about the colours and shapes of the corals, or who wanted to find out how dangerous sharks really are. By leafing through or reading intensively – they certainly learned something new.

At the third station, the pupils examined a wide variety of objects very closely through a microscope: In addition to coral skeletons, shells and snails, living small animals such as bristle worms, amphipods, floating shrimps and small coral fragments were also examined under the microscope. By microscopically examining dry preparations such as spiders, ants, wasps or flies, the children got to know the insects they already know from their home garden in a completely new way.

At the end of the lesson the students received a certificate of attendance. And to take home a paper bag with a booklet published for the International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2018), some sea postcards and a real piece of coral skeleton. The children will probably not forget this school day so quickly. And who knows? Maybe one or the other child has discovered a new passion on this day. You can find out more about the first project day on the topic of coral reefs here.