First-grade teachers at Simpsonville Elementary are taking learning to the next level – sea level that is!
Through a program offered by the South Carolina Aquarium, the entire grade was able to take a trip to the coast.
During the field trip and with his teacher’s encouragement, Isaul “Isa” Piacenze dipped his fingers in the touch tank at the South Carolina Aquarium.
It was the first time Isa has been that close to stingrays, sharks or any sea animal. His teacher, Abi Hobbs, says that’s because it’s the first time Isa had ever been to the coast.
“What’s been the best part?” Asked 7 News Reporter Stefany Bornman.
“When me and my friends got to see all the animals,” Isa told 7News.
Isa walked around exploring the aquarium. He admired the jellyfish, the sea turtles and just took everything in.
“That is big,” he said while looking at the tanks.
However, Isa wasn’t the only first grader on the field trip who’s never seen the ocean.
“What do you think of it so far?” Asked 7 News Reporter Stefany Bornman.
“It’s really good,” said Winne Zou, a first grader.
“What’s been your favorite animal so far?” Asked 7 News Reporter Stefany Bornman.
“[The] tiger shark!” Elber Garcia Gomez, a first grader, told 7News.
For 19 years, the South Carolina Aquarium has been hosting students from across the world through the Structured School Program.
“It’s a program to get school-aged kids into the aquarium, learning about the things that they do in the classroom,” said Jamie Tom, the aquarium School Program Manager.
The educational field trip is free for students if their school is picked.
“I made every single one of our teammates apply to this,” Hobbs joked.
Hobbs says an experience like this not only enhances learning, but it puts into perspective the research happening in the classroom. “Seeing these fish for the first time, up close makes it real,” she told 7 News.
“I mean jaws dropped to the floor! Wow, the ocean!” Lindsey Gordon, a Simpsonville first grade teacher, told 7News.
Hobbs says packing 130 kids into a bus for a 3 hours drive to the aquarium in Charleston was worth every moment because it inspired students in ways she never imagined.
“This one little girl came up to me and said to me, ‘Miss Hobbs I want to be a fish person when I grow up.'”
After the aquarium, the students, teachers, and chaperones went to The Batter, before heading back to Simpsonville.
The teachers tell 7News without the grant from the aquarium, they wouldn’t have been able to take the trip.
According to the Greenville County Schools spokesperson it’s very rare for students in the 1st grade to take field trips outside the district.