03 April 2013

I&J Young Biologist Course – day two

All of our newbies arrived back at the Aquarium for the second day of the course on 2 April. This, I think, is a good sign, meaning they are all here for the right reasons and are eager to learn as much as they can.

The morning started with an introduction to the Hi-Tec Microscope Exhibit and Touch Pool at the Two Oceans Aquarium. These two areas will be where our new YBs will be stationed once they start their volunteering. This introduction was in preparation for Friday’s oral assessment that each one of the YBs needs to complete.

Bianca Engel, our Deputy Head of Education, showing the YBs the touch pool exhibit. All photos by Katja Rockstroh

The group was then split into six smaller groups and taken on a guided tour by our three YB assistants, as well as three of our education staff members. This gave the newbies a good idea of some of the other exhibits, and the Aquarium was explained to them from the viewpoint of our staff.

After writing their first assessment, it was straight back into theory, finishing off the fish section and learning about SASSI. One of the major topics that was covered today were sea plants (never call them sea weeds, Xavier explains, as he feels weeds are unwanted things and that sea plants are most definitely not since they are extremely useful.)

The YBs get to touch and see some of the examples of sea plants that you can find along our coast, including the rather slimy Dead Man’s Fingers

After a short lesson on animal and plant classification, a system that was devised all the way back in Aristotle’s time, Bianca, with the help of Spongebob, talked about sponges and what amazing creatures they are. Did you know that sponges can be pushed through a sieve and the single cells will then reassemble themselves into its original form? Xavier then took over from Bianca to teach about one of the major marine invertebrate groups called Cnidaria (pronounced with a silent c). This group contains animals such as sea anemones, jellyfish and hydroids.

YBs get to touch the anemones to feel the sticky tentacles – a weird, and usually unexpected, sensation

It is the end of day two and one already notices a sense of togetherness in the group. Even though everyone was seated at a new table, with new people, it is great to see that the YBs are starting to bond and make new friends. Old YBs can testify that some of the friendships made through a YB course are often long-term ones.

Until tomorrow!

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