Sea Turtles and Other Cool Creatures

by Michael Porter
Our 5th graders journeyed recently to Jekyll Island to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and nearby Tidelands Nature Center for an exciting and enlightening field trip.
At the Sea Turtle Center, the students listened to an interesting lecture on the life of sea turtles, where they learned about the anatomy of the turtles and how they adapted to their habitat. For example, the shells of sea turtles are flatter than that of land turtles, making them more hydrodynamic.
"It was fun and very educational," said Aiden P. "I did not expect to be that educated about sea turtles."
The students were shown the "hospital" for sick and injured turtles, which are pools of water carefully controlled for temperature and salinity.

"The field trip was really fun. My favorite part about the field trip was when you see all the animals — how they feel, what they eat," said Lincoln L. "I've never seen a sea turtle before. I've seen it on videos but never seen one in real life so it made me feel, like, oh my gosh! I finally saw one!"
One must admit that their faces are nothing short of cute. But they are wild animals with the goal of going back into the wild once they have recovered, so petting is not permitted.

At Tidelands, the students were allowed to touch a couple of scaly critters. The intrepid staff trotted out a baby alligator, who seemed to be smiling intently at the spellbound students. The brave handler allowed the students to pet the reptile on its tail, while keeping the head facing the opposite direction.
"It felt like the tiles on the bathroom floor," noted Ameya V.

And then she hauled out the snake!
A discussion ensued about how snakes are a vital part of the ecosystem, and the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes. She explained that non-venomous snakes will help control pests around the neighborhood. Venomous snakes around populated ares are better relocated (preferably by a professional) rather than just killed.
One student had his own mini-adventure on the bus going to Georgia, brought on by some gooey candy.
"I lost two teeth by eating Gushers and a Fruit Roll-up," said Landon S.
Alas, he won't be visited by the Tooth Fairy as the molars are missing.
"They're somewhere on the bus," he lamented.
Director of Education Ms. Tonya Elstein believes field trips serve a distinct purpose in a child's well-rounded educational journey.
"Seeing and interacting with things up close and personal is more meaningful than just reading about it or watching videos,” she said. "The novelty of being in a different setting creates memories to last a lifetime.”

A side note from Ms. Deborah Landon, Science Specialist:
Aside from the amazing, hands-on learning experiences, the 5th graders demonstrated that the qualities of their good character reach far beyond the campus of JCDS. 
After learning about the adoption of sea turtle “patients” at the Sea Turtle Center, students pooled together their hearts and resources in the gift shop. They joined their forces and donated the change from the souvenirs they purchased into one big fund. They decided the week before going that they wanted to adopt a turtle named “Lil Diggity.” We read all about him (and the other turtles in residency there) in the Science Lab. They collected enough money to officially adopt this baby Loggerhead. 
The other visitors and the staff at the Sea Turtle Center were completely moved by their gesture as a whole. I felt extremely privileged and proud to be part of this extraordinary group of students. We at JCDS are certain that Lil Diggity will be in their hearts for a long time.