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First Graders at WSD are “traveling” to Antarctica and its surrounding areas to study penguins! To simulate an Antarctic lab, life-sized penguin photos were placed in the lower hallway so that the students could take in the true size and appearance of different species of penguins. Students’ first step was to take measurements. They measured themselves for a special “snowsuit,” then began measuring the various penguins for comparison. They are also doing research to see if their measurements are correct, as well as research on all the penguin species to learn their heights and weights, how many eggs they lay, and other interesting facts. They record these findings in a series of worksheets that make up their penguin logs.

To better understand the lifestyle, habits, and unique challenges of penguins, students explored their simulated outside Antarctic habitat. They were provided with oven mitts (flippers), salad tongs (beaks), and baseballs (eggs) and given tasks such as building a nest and transporting eggs (between their knees) without dropping them. Mimicking the everyday activities of penguins gave students a better appreciation for these remarkable birds. They also discovered many qualities that humans and penguins have in common, such as a love of play, the ability to form friendships, and good communication skills. This kind of hands-on learning makes the research memorable — and fun! — for students and gives them a sense of what it might be like to be a scientist in the field.