Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Whales

In Lesson 2 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, we learned all about whales (both toothed and baleen whales), which includes dolphins and porpoises.  What a fun lesson!  We learned so much!  Here is what we did.
After reading in our text about the two kinds of whales, tails (flukes), and whales' songs, we listened to some different whale songs at http://new-brunswick.net/new-brunswick/whales/avi.html.  We also completed some work in our notebooking journal.  (I always love her little pictures!)
Next, we read Baby Whales Drink Milk by Barbara Juster Esbensen ... 
... The Sea Mammal Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta ...
... and A Whale of a Tale!  All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales by Bonnie Worth.
 The next day, we read some more in our text about blowholes, whale blow (Did you know you can identify some whale species by the spout they make when they blow?), how whales beach themselves, and how whales moves (breaching, spyhopping, lobtailing, and logging).  We talked about the history of whalers, migration, calves, and echolocation.  We also started our study of toothed whales.

Then, it was time for our first little experiment to demonstrate how echolocation works for whales.  We used two paper cones.  We each took one and took turns talking in our cone towards the wall or listening in our cone towards the same wall.  We then did the same thing again, sans cones.  We could hear better with the cones than without.  This helped us better understand how whales are able to pick up sounds from objects in the water through echolocation.  We recorded our results in our notebooking journal.
After that, we learned more about dolphins, porpoises (and the differences between them), killer whales, and beluga whales. In our next experiment, we set out to explain why beluga whales can swim in water up to 64 degrees below freezing (-32).  (Shouldn't the water be solid?)  For this experiment, we used two cups with water, two tablespoons of salt, a permanent marker, and our freezer.  We added the two tablespoons of salt to only one of the cups and marked it to distinguish it from the one without salt.
Then, in the freezer they went!
 After a couple of hours, the one without salt was completely frozen and the one with salt was still liquid.  So THAT'S how it works!  The salt content in the ocean keeps the water from freezing solid.  And we learned that more and more salt is entering the oceans every year.  Fascinating!
(We recorded these results in our notebooking journal, too.)
Next, we read about narwhals, sperm whales, and started our study of baleen whales.  This included blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales, and right whales.  Next, we read Dolphin Talk: Whistles, Clicks, and Clapping Jaws by Wendy Pfeffer ...
... and The Magic School Bus's The Wild Whale Watch by Eva Moore.
We did a little more work in our notebooking journal after that.
Then, using Mac's Field Guide to Marine Mammals of North America ... 
... and Evan-Moor's Making Books with Pockets: September ...
... we completed this fun spread in our journal where we added pictures of the different whales we learned about.
Next, we completed the "Baleen Model" from that same Evan-Moor pockets book (pages 76 and 79).
 (I love that Apologia's notebooking journals allow us space to add in projects of our own, like this.)
We set out to make the blow minibook from the Evan-Moor book, too.
(Each page of the minibook has a wave where she was able to label the whale blow, with the description of the blow(s) under the label.  So cute!)
The next day we worked on this lesson, Daddy was home.  It was perfect because it was time to use our Usborne Build the Bones: Whale book to put together the model of the whale skeleton provided.
They got right to work!
 The finished product looked great!  She was so proud!
After that, Maggie was ready to make her first additions to her ocean box, her whales!
She and Daddy made a right whale ...
... (He looks so good!) ...
... a dolphin, and also a blue whale.
 Here they are, in the ocean box, with the whale skeleton model on top.  We wanted our critters to hang, suspended, to appear like they were swimming, but no matter how hard we tried, they hung funny.  (I think the clay we used was too heavy.)  Instead, we decided to make little raised platforms, covered in our ocean paper and blue cellophane, to place critters at different heights in our box.  We think it will be fine once the box is all filled up with critters.
 
 We cut the blue whale in half and super-glued one half to the top of the box and the other half on the underside to make it look like he was breaching.  (A toothpick between the two halves helped hold it together.)
Once our ocean box was updated, we finished the notebooking activities for this lesson ...
... and set up our last experiment.  This one was simple.  Using two cups and a string, we made an old-fashioned "telephone" to demonstrate how sound travels better through materials, like water (in this case, string), than it does in air.  Much like a tight string of yarn, ocean water can carry sound waves a long way, which is one reason cetaceans (whales) can communicate with others that are far away.
Next lesson?  Seals and sea cows!  Can't wait!

*UPDATE:  Shortly after this lesson, we visited The Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Dauphin Island, Alabama.  We snapped these pictures of Mags comparing her height to the length of a fully grown dolphin ...
 ... and this skeleton of one!  Neat!
We also visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and had fun observing the beluga whales!
Whales are really amazing creatures!

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