Seals and Otters and Whales (and more!), Oh My!!

Recommended Ages: 7-11
Start Date: April 3. Class runs for 4 weeks. Students have 2 weeks after the last class is posted to complete the course. No live classes- do the lesson plans on YOUR schedule.
Instructor: Mary Middlebrook
SPACE AVAILABLE: Class is over 70% full.
Our classes always fill. Don’t miss out- enroll now!

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! When I offered Marine Biology online in 2016, so many people wanted a class for the younger kids. That’s when I created Shark Month. And the response was so huge for more, that I decided to create Marine Mammal Month! This 4 week workshop will still have TONS of science, but will be written for younger students. My recommended age group is 7-11. This class is really not a good fit for current Marine Zoology students or those who plan on taking the Marine Zoology: Vertebrates course in the fall, as all of the information in this class will be covered in the fall, but in more detail.
This is meant to be a fun, no pressure class! But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to learn! Some of the things we’ll be covering will include:
1. Evolution: Where do marine mammals fit into the grand scheme of life on earth? When did they evolve? Did they evolve from fish or something else? What were some of the first forms of marine mammals? Are marine mammals like sea lions and dolphins more closely related to each other or to something else?
2. Taxonomy: We’ll learn about how scientists classify marine mammals into taxonomic groups so we can see what characteristics separate the various groups from each other.
3. Anatomy: What makes a marine mammal like a whale or dolphin a marine mammal and not a fish?
4. Species: We’ll go through all of the major groups of marine mammals and learn what makes each group unique- Pinnipeds (Seals, Sea Lions, Walruses), Otters, Polar Bears, Manatees, and Cetaceans (Dolphins and Whales). Some species are the smartest in the ocean, but is it possible that they are the most intelligent creatures on EARTH? Students will learn how to use a dichotomous key to identify species.
5. Conservation: What is the status of the world’s marine mammal populations? What laws are in place to protect them? What are the pros and cons of keeping these animals in captivity?
Lesson plans are a combination of power points, 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. 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 project your child chooses to do and how they manage their time). I will be creating educational videos to accompany the course. Each week, there will be a choice of hands on projects for students to complete to reinforce their knowledge of the material.

I will post all lesson plans and homework assignments on Tuesdays before 5pm PST. 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 schedules, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.

No formal grades will be given for this class. There is a quiz at the end of each lesson that will give your child a “grade”, but it is not recorded. ALL students will receive feedback on the work they submit.


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