“For most of the group members, it was the shark tank that caused the most oohing and aahing as the ‘dentally-challenged’ creatures swam back and forth looking for their next meal which, thankfully, was not a newly-minted Allen School Medical Assistant…”
A COLONY OF PENGUINS OBSERVED BY A SCHOOL OF STUDENTS
1. Did you know that the Greeks and Romans used electrical eels as an early form of defibrillation to start the hearts of patients?
2. Did you know that sharks do not get cancer and scientists are attempting to find out why?
3. Did you know that the toxin of the jelly fish is used as a remedy?
Well you would know it, if you had been one of the 167 students, many of their family members and six staff members who spent an awe-inspiring day on the summer outing to the New York Aquarium, directly off the boardwalk in Coney Island, in Brooklyn .
The day started at 10:30 AM when the staff of the aquarium opened up the back gate and allowed Allen School students to enter before obtaining their tickets. The initial encounter with aquatic life that brilliantly sunny morning was with a colony of penguins. Many people in the group were surprised to learn that penguins do not necessarily have to spend their time in ice and snow. That day, in the 89 degree summer heat, the penguins were obviously very comfortable, being fed whole fish by their trainers, swallowing entire fish with one gulp. A “shy” seal was the next encounter with denizens of the deep. One had to look really hard to catch this “wallflower of the wild” who hugged the rock wall of the enclosure.
For most of the group members, according to Bob Shapiro, Chairman of the Media Center/Study Skills, it was the shark tank that caused the most “oohing and aahing” as the “dentally-challenged” creatures swam back and forth looking for their next meal which, thankfully, was not a newly-minted Medical Assistant. And, if seeing is believing, there was a touch tank for those who needed tactile stimulation to enhance their experience. For those who were visually focused, the sight of jelly fish and amoeba alone was worth the price of admission (which, for the students of the Allen School, was a very reasonable six dollars).
No trip to the seaside by Coney Island would be complete without a splash of the salt spray with which one could easily be touched just by sitting in the bleachers on the balcony level where the shows take place. It was astonishing to watch the amazing tricks performed by the sea creatures in response to promises of treats from their handlers and those seated in the front row were sprayed repeatedly with water as the creatures soared up and out of the water, plunging back down with great force. It was a great way to enjoy the show and cool off at the same time.
Even though seafood was available at the Seaside Café, most went for burgers or pizza for lunch, any potential desire for seafood obviously diminished in the minds of the students after having seen so many sea creatures that morning.
Sitting there in the sunshine at tables in the Aquarium Café, the sound of laughter generated by the interaction between the students, their family members and the Allen School faculty was at its greatest level. The sound of that laughter rose quickly into the salt-sprayed air, carried by the ocean breeze out towards the city and points beyond.
The memory of the special outing was also carried aloft – in the minds and hearts of those whose time together, in the sunshine that day at the New York Aquarium, will likely be remembered for a long time to come.