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Kindergarten: Squid Dissections & Their Swimmingly Positive Outcomes

In Lower School science at Graland, students don't have to wait until they are older to complete cool and formative experiments. In fact, students as young as Kindergarten intentionally dive into projects, such as dissections, that might traditionally be reserved for older students. Why? Because at Graland, we believe that dynamic and hands-on learning experiences inspire students to be lifelong learners who are curious, passionate, and resilient, all skills that Lower School Science Teacher Elise de Geus observes in her Kindergarteners daily. "Kindergarteners are inherently scientists," Ms. de Geus said. "They are so curious and make great observations and connections. They are always excited for a challenge, and I love helping them learn how to be okay with failure and to persevere through tough challenges." 
And persevere, they did! Throughout this experiment, the Kindergartners observed both the external and internal anatomy of a squid. Externally, the students counted the sea creature's six arms and two tentacles and witnessed its color-changing ability by gently rubbing the chromatophores (color-changing cells). Internally, the Lower School science teachers guided the students through observing unique parts of the squid, such as their thin esophagus', donut-shaped brains, and hard eye lenses that allow them to survive the high pressure of the ocean. In addition, the kindergartners used dissection scissors to carefully cut the mantle (body) of the squid. According to Ms. de Geus, "Once the squid was open, we worked together to identify the pen, gills, and ink sac. The pen of the squid acts as a backbone and is shaped like a feather quill. Students used the pen to pop open the ink sac and (if there was enough ink) write their name!"

When asked what her aspirations were for this lesson, Ms. de Geus said, "My goal was for my students to use the dissection as an opportunity to practice their observation skills and their ability to go outside of their comfort zone, and they did! This is a messy, stinky experience, and I really enjoyed watching the students work through the 'gross' to get to the science."

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.