Squids and Kids: EV School Programs in Action

When I arrived at the front gates of Hawes Elementary School in
Redwood City, I knew a special day was in store for me. For the first time, I was going to witness an EV classroom program in action. I was about to discover the magic and inspiration that volunteers, teachers, parents, and kids had talked so much about.

Imagine what I saw when I opened the door: a classroom of 5th graders sitting perfectly enraptured. Imagine a volunteer in the front of the classroom, sharing cool facts about the wonders of marine ecology. Imagine a team of volunteers at the back of the room, carefully setting up learning stations. And imagine the smell of fresh, raw squid.

Squid dissection is a popular learning station, and now I know why. When the kids nervously gathered around the squid table, I expected a chorus of “Eww!” and “I’m not touching that!” True, I heard a few of those to start with. But then I heard something different.

“Cool!”  “Wow!” “How does a squid protect itself?” “Why is the fin on top of its head?” “What would a squid do if a shark came long?” The classroom came alive. I could hardly believe how quickly these students transformed into budding marine biologists!

But the remarkable transformation had just begun. First, the students (noses plugged) prodded their squids with a utensil. Then they got closer: a few brave ones poked the squid with their fingers. Soon, students were taking turns holding the slimy squids in both hands and bringing them up to eye level. Watching curled noses turn into smiles was inspirational!
I was inspired by something else that day: the volunteers’ gentle and encouraging approach to hands-on learning. They allowed discovery to happen at its own pace. They answered questions, they helped dissect, they laughed, and best of all, they got their hands slimy. They led the way with their love of nature.

I left Hawes with a new perspective on the EV: one that will enrich my love and appreciation for the organization as I work behind the scenes. I can’t wait to go back into the classroom. And maybe next time, I will be brave enough to touch a squid!

by Kristi Moos, Communications Manager

Photo Credits: Rebecca Geraldi and Kristi Moos