Is your kid fascinated with marine life? Are you looking to give them a new & exciting learning opportunity? Family Fun Vancouver highly recommends the Junior Biologist Club at the Vancouver Aquarium. The 3 hour, hands-on, interactive program will have your child getting up close and personal with marine life of all sizes.
My 2 sons, aged 7 & 9 years, took part in the Caring for Critters class. Their session started a hands-on lesson in the Marine Lab. The small group of participants learned how to vacuum the holding tanks; the boys LOVED the idea they were cleaning up the poop from the sea stars and sea anemones. The kids were also charged with tracking the temperature of the tanks to ensure the water was at a healthy level for the animals.
One of the Marine Biologists came in and spoke to the kids. She talked about some of the various animals at the Vancouver Aquarium and how the staff care for them. After the 15 minute discussion, the kids were up and moving outside to observe the sea lions. With their clipboards in hand the kids mimicked the type of scientific tracking the biologist do every day at the Aquarium. The next time you are at the Aquarium, count the number of vocalizations the sea lions do in 1 minute. You’ll be amazed!
When I said the program was interactive – as if vacuuming up sea star poop wasn’t enough – I wasn’t joking! The kids, all aged between 7 & 9 years, were responsible for making “treats” for some of the marine mammals. Squid and clams were given to the kids to chop up and deposit into muffin cups and ice cube trays. Water was added to the concoctions and the “treats” were deposited into the freezer. Once hardened the ice pucks will be given to the animals as rewards and development tools.
The experience my boys had during the Caring for Critters class is representative of the awesome hands-on experience offered through all of the Junior Biologist Club programs. The themes of the programs are:
1. Stellar Stellers (October 7, 14, 21*)
Steller sea lion populations worldwide are declining, specifically along our coast, with many possible reasons including disease, predators, competing for food and space, pollution, and other human related factors. Learn all about how the sea lion research at the aquarium has helped to understand these wild populations!
2. Caring for Critters (November 4, 11**, 18*)
What do animals need to thrive? Step into the role of an aquarist; interact with live tidal pool sea animals from local B.C. waters and gain first-hand insight into the inner workings of intertidal marine life and how we care for them.
3. Otterly Awesome Rescues (December 2, 9, 16*)
There’s Hardy anything cuter than our sea otters here at the Aquarium! Delve into the special rescue stories that brought all of our sea otters to the aquarium. We will discover the who’s, why’s, and how’s of rescuing this iconic “keystone” species, and explore their important role in the ocean ecosystem.
4. Poo-naumis (January 6, 13, 20*)
Could whale poop be a solution to climate change? Fecal plumes, or poo-naumis, play an important role in the food web, sustaining the entire living system of the ocean! Unearth how whales play a vital role in the ocean ecosystem!
5. A-Ray-Zing Stingray (February 3, 10, 17*)
Did you know that stingrays are related to sharks? And like sharks, stingray populations are at risk due to overfishing for fins, liver oil, and gills. Glide into all things rays, like their tropical habitat, the different shapes and species of stingrays, and how we can help rays around the world!
6. World of Waste (March 3, 10, 17*)
We have a problem… A Plastic Problem! Join us on the journey of waste; where it comes from and where it goes! Did you know that all things lead to the ocean?
7. Go with the Flow (April 7, 14, 21*)
Rivers, oceans, and lakes, oh my! Discover how the water cycle renews and cleans the water flowing in watersheds, which are relied on heavily by humans, animals, and plants alike! Also explore the salmon life cycle, and learn how to predict where salmon live in the watershed at each stage of their life cycle!
8. Coastal Creatures (May 5, 12, 19*)
Have you ever noticed how a beach changes throughout the day? High and low tides change the environment for many plants and animals living in these tidal zones. Join us in exploring our B.C. coast with a beach walk, where we will discover our local intertidal creatures and discuss some of the challenges of living in a tidal zone!
9. Peck-culiar Penguins (June 2, 9, 16*)
Waddle into the weird world of these peculiar birds! Dive into the how and why penguins act the way they do and learn about different species, their adaptations as a flightless bird, and how they manage to survive!
The first two dates of each theme is for 7 to 9 year old club members.
*The third date is for 10 to 12 year old club members.
The Vancouver Aquarium has also established a certificate program that rewards kids for taking part in 3, 6, 9 & 12 courses. Recipients will be awarded with both a certificate and an ocean-themed badge.
Rates: $18.50 (member rate per child, per session); $23.15 (non-member rate per child, per session). Please note that the program fee does not include admission to the Aquarium prior to, or following, the class. The majority of the club sessions are geared towards kids aged 7 – 9 years, however are a few sessions available for 10 – 12 year old kids.
Junior Biologist Club at the Vancouver Aquarium:
Dates: October 2017 – June 2018
Times: 9:30am – noon
Where: Vancouver Aquarium
Address: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver