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Eugene students lead younger children on classroom tour of ocean

by Anna Campbell | June 8, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Anna Campbell/News Tribune photo: Sixth graders Nicholas Renzelman, at right, and Jersie Hennings, behind, showcase their presentations on sea creatures for a visiting kindergarten class. Renzelman had created a dolphin hanging overhead, and Hennings had assembled a seal and a stingray.

EUGENE -- Summer school students shared their research skills and knowledge of the ocean with fellow students Wednesday as they led a tour of the sea in their classroom.

Michele Kempker's fifth- and sixth-grade classes spent around two weeks researching, presenting and assembling paper and cardboard replicas of sea creatures including sharks, dolphins, turtles, crabs, narwhals and fish to transform their classroom into a submarine adventure.

It's been a chance for students to practice digital learning by researching the ocean and creating presentations.

Alyssa Roberts had prepared a jellyfish and turtle to share with other students, while classmate Jersie Hennings had assembled a seal and stingray. Nicholas Renzelman pointed proudly to a dolphin he had made.

Sixth-grader Tanner Gerling displayed a swordfish. During his research, Gerling discovered that record-size swordfish can be up to 14 feet long or nearly 1,200 pounds. They typically live nine to 10 years and have an organ that keeps their brains and eyes warm so they can hunt in colder waters.

Taking up an entire wall of the exhibit was a life-size great white shark, which can be up to 16 feet long and 8 feet wide. Sixth-grader Samantha Carr, who had helped create the shark, answered the questions of visiting kindergarten students who were looking at the shark.

"If you saw this in the ocean, do you think you would be scared of this?" Carr asked the students.

Definitely, was the answer.

Some of the students wandered toward the mouth, then informed Carr the shark had bitten them.

Kindergarten students were fascinated by the animals, which were taped to the walls covered in blue plastic and hanging from the ceiling above. They touched the paper animals gently with two fingers, as instructed, as they might in a real aquarium.

The students had been assembling the shark in the hallway and planned to put it on the walls there, but had to move it inside when crews needed to paint the walls.

  photo  Anna Campbell/News Tribune photo: Sixth grade student Samantha Carr talks with a kindergarten student who has taken an interest in the great white shark behind her.
  photo  Anna Campbell/News Tribune photo: Several students worked together to assemble a life-size great white shark to display in the ocean scene. Great white sharks can be 15-16 feet long and 6-8 feet wide.
  photo  Anna Campbell/News Tribune photo:  Kindergarten students enter Michele Kempker's classroom to view her students' ocean scene, complete with a variety of paper and cardboard flora and fauna and students eager to share facts about the fish.
  photo  Anna Campbell/News Tribune photo: Students in Michele Kempker's class decorated the classroom to showcase different zones of the ocean. Seen here is the sunlight zone.

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