By Olivia Shields
The 4th grade at the Henry T. Wing School has been studying Antarctica thanks to Beth Simmons, mother of 4th grader Morgan Simmons. Mrs. Simmons is an Education and Outreach Coordinator for Palmer Long Term Ecological Research in Antarctica. She wrote a non-fiction book about the ocean and its creatures called Sea Secrets that she donated to each 4th grader. Mrs. Simmons worked with the 4th grade teachers to create this special program.
The 4th grade had an "Antarctica Day" on January 11th. Mrs. Simmons and parent volunteers assisted students with all sorts of Antarctic experiments. Students looked at live krill through microscopes, checked out whale bones and sounds, graphed changes of the Antarctic penguin population, did puzzles of penguins, learned facts about the Adelie Penguins and got to hold one of its’ eggs, did several crafts, and more!
The following week the 4th grade skyped with Dr. Kim Bernard, a scientist at Palmer Station. She told them about Palmer Station and gave a small tour. The students particularly enjoyed the outdoor hot tub. Eleven students were able to ask one question they were assigned to ask by their teachers.
Beth Simmons has been to Antarctica twice and has been working for Palmer LTER for ten years. She has done programs like this all over the USA for grades K-12. Her favorite things about going to Antarctica are talking to kids online, catching plankton with plankton nets, and videotaping penguins. "I just want to reach out and grab them, but we aren't allowed to!" says Beth. "They are my favorite thing in Antarctica to study!"
This was a great experience for the 4th grade thanks to Mrs. Simmons!