A Stride Outside the Class

By Evelyn Chenye


Electives at Pinewood provide many opportunities and avenues to explore academic interests outside of core subjects. Marine biology and anatomy are two of such classes. On Sept.16, Sept. 26, and Oct. 9, 2019, the anatomy and marine biology electives taught by science teachers Kim Hudson and Monica Ventrice went on field trips. 

Marine biology’s first trip, on Sept. 19, was to the Palo Alto Baylands for birdwatching, mostly of native shorebirds. The second one, on Oct. 9, was to Moss Landing at Elkhorn Slough for kayaking and observing a variety of marine life. Field trips exploring topics outside of the classroom can be valuable for many.

“The field trips allow students to see . . . organisms in their natural habitat, rather than in a picture of a slideshow,” Ventrice said.

She added that the kayaking trip both connects to what the class has already covered and has yet to cover. “We were learning about local species diversity, including birds, marine mammals, algae, invertebrates, etc. I hope it made some connections, but there will be more throughout the semester as we discuss more phyla,” Ventrice said. Two of the examples of marine life seen during the trips this year are otters and green winged teals. Using an app developed by researchers at Cornell University to identify birds and iNaturalist, students have seen other species this year, including avocets, willets, killdeer, crows, egrets, tunicates, herons, gulls, stilts, pelicans, seals, skeleton shrimp, anemones, sea lions, moon jellies, mussels, various other snails, crabs, and one 12-pound sea slug.

The anatomy field trip was on Sept. 26 to the Body Worlds exhibit. The Body Worlds exhibit is a travelling exhibition of preserved anatomical specimens of the human body. The exhibition operates on the belief that seeing human anatomy closer to the way it actually is lends to a better understanding of physiology and anatomy than purely experiencing through books and models. This can lead to more general knowledge and information for the public and healthcare professionals alike, and insights on the processes of life and the human body. The exhibits focus individually on the nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and locomotive systems and then on the ways they interact.

“It gives us a chance to interact with real human anatomy, something we don’t get to do in the classroom,” Hudson said. “We’ll have another field trip this semester, then go again next semester when anatomy is in session again.”