Education opportunity

Mar 22, 2007
I just recieved an invitation from my former elementary school to give a small presentation about Cephalopods and, quite frankly, I have no idea how to go about it. I would be presenting to any interested 4th and 5th graders, and I have about an hour to do it. If anyone has done something like this before, I would appreciate any advice.

So far I have a basic powerpoint presentation, some props, and a frozen squid to dissect. This presentation is going to be occuring in conjunction with a field trip to an aquarium which has a few live Ceph specimins.

I will be giving said presentation on Wednesday the 21st.
The props include some diagrams and models of different Cephalopods, as well as a replica of a Nautilus shell. The presentation was developed for the kids and it's really basic because I don't exactly know how much they can handle. I also have a video excerpt which runs about 10 minutes in length. I guess it's the approach that I'm wondering about, that is, how can I keep them interested in my presentation?
Do you know any kids? (Don't laugh, some people don't) If you do, borrow them for a practice run. Jean does a lot of school presentations, although I'm not sure how old they are. Corw314 has a daughter about that age...ask her daughter, of course she's also a ceph head, and has done her own presentations in school, so she probably isn't typical..Try to keep it age appropriate, of course, but don't talk down to them, and plan on having them ask questions. If you let them know they can ask right from the beginning you might get enough interesting questions that you won't have to worry about losing their interest. Kids are pretty smart. You probably don't have any idea how many kids there will be, so if there are too many that could be a problem, but hey, you have a whole hour. I used to lead tours of school children at a nature center in our county back in Maryland, and I found that they could ask some pretty good question, even the 1st graders. My biggest problem at first was my vocabulary, so I made sure to tell them at the beginning of each tour that if I used any word they didn't understand to let me know.
Active props are a good idea,if you can figure some out.
A balloon to illustrate propulsion maybe? Some way to show buoyancy?
Just a few thoughts The scientists and teachers here should be able to come up with some better ones.
I was going to add to that, but upon rereading it, found there's no real point. She did this successfully for years.
Another most-important thing to remember when giving a presentation is YOU! If you are not having fun (in other words, you are anxious or nervous) then the presentation will not go as well as it could. I know it is easy to say after years of doing it, but you must work hard on this (inject a little humour early on; when you here them laugh you will be at ease).

A short film is a good way to introduce a talk. Get up there and have a ball!
Is there a way to have enough squid for the students do to the dissection in pairs? I have done this exact presentation for years... If you want an outline, let me know, I usually introduce cephalopods, and then discuss some characteristics that most of them share. Some characteristics might be ink sac (I know, not in Nautilus...), shell (internal or external and not in octopus), ability to swim (as opposed to most other mollusks), intelligence, ability to change color (I know, not Natuilus...), and three hearts.

I usually reserve about 30 minutes for the dissection, let the students find the tentacles, arms, beak and siphon, then let them open the mantle (with scissors - not a scalpel!!!) and find the gills, ink sac, branchial hearts and discover whether they have a male or female. That is usually all I have time for them to find. I have them put the squid on a piece of newspaper, then when they are finish, they just roll up the newspaper with the squid inside and then place the whole thing in a garbage bag.

You may have to get permission from the school to let them participate in the dissection, but if possible, it is the best way to go, that way every student can see all the little parts inside the squid. It is best to work in pairs or threes, so that peer pressure forces them to participate. I have never forced a student to do a dissection but then again, I have never had a student not participate by the end of the class (they may refuse in the beginning, but curiousity gets the best of them...).

Good luck, the time will go by way faster than you think, and Steve is right, humor is the way to capture their attention.
Get the kids involved! Ask THEM questions! With the squid you have ask them stuff like do you think the squid would be a fast or slow swimmer (fast, streamlined, more like a Ferrari than a Mini!) How many hearts does it have, what colour do they think the blood is, it usually stuns them to hear that in the live animals it's blue, ask them why...........what makes our blood red? The usual answers is that we're warm blooded (but many fish and reptiles are not and they have red blood!) it has oxygen in it (not exactly right), then nudge them in the direction of metal (I usually get adults, parents/teachers involved here, it does the kids no harm to realise that adults don't often know the answer, in fact they love it!) what metal turns red in the presence of oxygen and water, eventually someone will say iron it rusts, THEN ask OK what metal turns blue green and someone will say copper, then you can tell them all about copper carrying oxygen for cephs but not as well as iron does!

kids LOVE factoids, the biggest, the smallest, how many etc etc.

When you dissect the squid you can demonstrate writing with the ink using the gladius, maybe the class name or number, some suggest using it for tattoos on someones skin, but avoid that, some people are sensitive to the ink and their skin can get quite irritated, anyway they can keep the paper! That leads into sepia ink used to come from the species Sepia and is were we get the name for that brownish colour, used for writing and drawing (still is!). You can demnstrate how the ink is gluggy and grainy until you put it in a small beaker of water, then it expands like a smoke screen!

Hope this helps, I'm sure you have ideas of your own, but in my experience the more you can involve the kids the better they like it and will remember it!!


oh my - a topic I can actually contribute to. Unfortunately not right at this moment. I am about to step out the door.

I am a Marine Science Educator with a background in Environmental Education. First things first - yes to involvemnet. This age is very active and interested. Actually it is my fav age range cause the are still kids, but are begenning to see things in abstract terms.

I will be around later to throw out some specific ideads and suggestions. Would it be possible to see the powerpoint and video? Is the talk before or after the field trip?

The movie I am using is a part of Jaques Cousteau's documentary. I can't remember the title, but it has some good photography as well as information.

Thanks for all the ideas, I have already integrated many of them into the presentation. One problem I have is that I would love to give them squid specimins to dissect, but the fish market I ordinarily go for specimins is still awaiting their next shipment. Does anyone know of a good place to buy specimins that offers next-day shipping?
looks2ce;90751 said:
I am a Marine Science Educator with a background in Environmental Education. First things first - yes to involvemnet. This age is very active and interested. Actually it is my fav age range cause the are still kids, but are begenning to see things in abstract terms.



I've been working here

Although I'm having a few months in the Marine Science department away from the ankle biters!

Jean - nice. I really like the squid diorama pdf.

Currently I work forProject Oceanology In the past I have worked for the Mystic Aquarium

Squid may be hard to get there. The midwest is not known for having a large seafood section in the supermarket. Tho do look. If you do find frozen squid to dissect I would suggest that if you have the kids dissect them, have them do it with you. I.E. start talking about the squids morphology, having them touch and flip the squid to see the shape and the wings and the tentacles/arms. Then I gather them together to show them how to remove the beak and esophogas. Once they have seen it I release them back to do it themselves. That is the basic structure. Do a bit and have the kids watch it and then release them back to do the same. Keeps the kids organized and on task.

dinners here - more later
Sorry it took so long for this reply, but I've been rather busy these past few days.

The presentation went great, the kids loved it. They were really attentive and seemed to enjoy learning about Cephalopods, especially the dissection. I even brought in a friend of mine (who has an octopus- an O. Briarius I think) to talk about Ceph care. Sure there was one bad egg, but a few of the kids seemed to hold a real interest in Cephalopods, especially after the presentation. One is even planning to do a research paper.

All in all, I must say that the kids (and myself) had a great time. :wink:

Shop Amazon

Shop Amazon
Shop Amazon; support TONMO!
Shop Amazon
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.