Sponges, Jellyfish, Anemones, Corals, and Worms

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on invertebrates. You do NOT have to take part 1 to take part 2, but you do have to take Marine Biology 101.
Recommended Ages: 10-17 (Class is offered in two levels)
Start Date: February 6. Class runs for 8 weeks. Students have 2 weeks after the last class is posted to complete all work. No live classes- do the lesson plans on YOUR schedule.
Fee: $160
Instructor: Mary Middlebrook
Our classes always fill. Don’t miss out- enroll now!

If you have a student aged 10-17 that has an interest in marine biology, this is the class you want! My degree is in Marine Biology (from Texas A&M University at Galveston), and marine biology was the very first homeschool class I ever taught. I have since branched out into many other sciences, but always love it when I can teach my passion- ocean life! This will not be a “fluff” class, or an “overview”- it is an intensive, science heavy class where students will learn marine biology from many different aspects- taxonomy, evolutionary relationships, anatomy, function, habitat, etc… There will be dissections in this course. Students can watch me do the dissection online, and I will even give you instructions for obtaining specimens so they can follow along with their own dissection if they’d like! Students who don’t wish to participate in viewing the dissections may opt out.

In this session, students will be focusing on 3 major groups of marine invertebrates:
1. Sponges: These are the simplest animals on earth, but that doesn’t make them boring (unless they’re a boring sponge- it’s a thing! 🙂 ) We’ll learn all about the structure of these fascinating creatures, where they live, and several notable species.
2. Cnidarians: The C is silent, but these group of animals can’t be ignored! These are the jellyfish, corals, and anemones- the first predators on earth! We’ll dive into this exciting marine phylum with an in depth, multi-week study on the evolutionary adaptations that allowed them to become predators, discuss symbiotic relationships (how can clownfish live in anemones without getting stung), and discuss how coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea- and how global warming threatens the very existence of these animals that have been on earth for millions of years. There will be several labs.
3. Worms: The sheer number of marine worms is mind-boggling. But the adaptations these worms have that allow them to thrive in their individual niches is simply amazing! We’ll study several types of worms, and even do a dissection.
I will be creating educational videos to accompany the course- many of these will be on site at various areas around southern California, both at the ocean and in some of our local aquariums. I’ll also be conducting virtual labs for the students, including dissections. Each week, there will be a choice of hands on projects for students to complete to reinforce their knowledge of the material. And in the forums, we will discuss up to the minute scientific discoveries that are occurring all over the globe.


SESSION 1: This is an 8 week class that begins on Feb. 6 and ends on March 27. Students have 2 weeks after that date to complete all work. Marine Invertebrates Part 2 will immediately follow this class, if you are interested in continuing the series.
I will post all lesson plans and homework assignments on Tuesdays. Discussion occurs throughout the week, as students interact with me and other students via our online message board. There is no “live” component to this class, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is a great option for busy students who need to work on their own schedule, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.


Lesson plans are a combination of power point, graphics, video, and audio. Each slide is fully narrated for students who prefer to hear material read to them. There is no textbook for this course. Material is the same for both levels, it’s the depth of the assignments that are the main difference. Younger students 10-13 should usually be placed in Level 1. Students ages 14 and up, or younger students who are academically gifted, should be placed in Level 2. Level 2 students will have more rigorous coursework, including learning how to read and interpret scientific papers. In general, expect 1-1.5 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time).


When you enroll, you have the option of having your student graded or not. Graded students will be required to take a weekly quiz. ALL students will receive feedback on the work they submit. But if you choose the “grades” option, your student will also have a private, online gradebook where I will record number grades for each assignment. I NEVER give these grades to the students (although they will see their quiz score)- just the feedback. The gradebook is for the parents- here you can see what assignments are missing, what grades are for the received assignments, and the final course grade. If you choose to share that information with your child, it’s at your discretion. The only grades students will ever see are the end of lesson plan quiz grades.



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