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Archive for Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Under the sea

Squids teach youngsters about marine life

May 21, 2002

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Eric Smith's wrinkled up nose said it all: Squids are a little freaky.

First, they sort of smell like a fish that's been out of water for a while. Second, there's a really big eye that stares right at you.

Eric Smith, left, shows his feelings about squid to his dissection
partner, Raul Rodriguez, at the Sea Lab in the Natural History
Museum at Kansas University. Fourth-graders from McKinley
Elementary School in Iola were able to get their hands onto and
inside the squids as they learned about the anatomy of the animals.

Eric Smith, left, shows his feelings about squid to his dissection partner, Raul Rodriguez, at the Sea Lab in the Natural History Museum at Kansas University. Fourth-graders from McKinley Elementary School in Iola were able to get their hands onto and inside the squids as they learned about the anatomy of the animals.

But that didn't stop Smith and other students from McKinley Elementary School in Iola from pulling on surgical gloves and snipping the squids open to examine the organs that reside inside the cephalopod-mollusks.

The youngsters were participating in a recent squid dissection in the new Sea Lab exhibit at the Natural History Museum at Kansas University.

"It's easy to dissect a complex animal," said Dena Podrebarac, museum educator. "Many kids when they sit down (to do the dissection) think it's gross, but by the time it's over they are up to their elbows and they run out of time before they are done."

So far, more than 1,000 students have visited the Sea Lab exhibit, which will run through July.

In addition to exploring the innards of squids, youngsters can learn about Pacific blackdragons, pelican eels and other strange-looking fish that live in deep-ocean waters; watch coral, spider crabs, anemones, shrimp, baby starfish, clown fish and other creatures in a large aquarium; play interactive computer games about sharks and the ocean; and touch sea cow bones and a walrus tusk.

Young children can fill and dump buckets of sand in the beach area, where colorful univalve and bivalve specimens and mounted sea birds are displayed. Adults and children can enjoy the small study room, which has several books about the ocean and its inhabitants at different reading levels.

"We tried to make it a hands-on experience," said Andy Bentley, manager of the museum's ichthyology collection. "It's an evolving exhibit. More things will be added as we go along so people should keep coming back."

Kent Toland, a fourth-grader at McKinley Elementary in Iola, is
trapped between his squid for dissection and the arms of a giant
squid mural during an activity led by Dena Podrebarac, left,
education director at the Natural History Museum.

Kent Toland, a fourth-grader at McKinley Elementary in Iola, is trapped between his squid for dissection and the arms of a giant squid mural during an activity led by Dena Podrebarac, left, education director at the Natural History Museum.





The Natural History Museum will be offering squid dissections at 1 p.m. Saturdays throughout the summer.Other summer activities are story time at 10 a.m. Saturdays and density experiments (how and why specific objects and animals sink and float) at 3 p.m. Saturdays.Reservations are not required."Ocean Discoveries Sea Lab" will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Groups can reserve times in the Sea Lab Monday-Friday by calling the museum's education department at 864-4173.

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