Extreme Survivors with Kim Ridley heads to Whiting

This fall, IRW led a book-based Literary Links to Science program called Extreme Survivors, focused on Kimberly Ridley’s latest book, Extreme Survivors: Animals that Time Forgot. Four schools in Washington County learned about ten creatures that have withstood eons of challenges, and how many of the challenges they faced (such as ice ages) were evident in the landscape around them.

Earlier this fall, they ventured out on a field trip with their teachers and IRW staff to learn about ice ages and explore traces and indications of glacial movements in their own backyard.

Last week, after visiting Pembroke Elementary, Kimberly Ridley and IRW staff set off for Whiting Village School to explore Extreme Survivors together with all students in Grades 2 – 8.

Before the visit, teacher Stephanie Higgins had worked on a large timeline of the animals with students that connected the big picture of millions of years and time periods with the creatures in Extreme Survivors. Students had also researched the different animals in the book.

Science teacher Ann McGhee tasked her students with completing research projects based on the book. Students shared with Kim their experiments with viscosity and where some of the creatures live – Sunlight level, Twilight, Midnight, Abyss, and Trench (portrayed in different bottles with colored liquid representing where the creatures live using rubbing alcohol, blue food coloring, baby oil, dish soap, and corn syrup).

Just like at the other schools, Kim shared with them that they were the very first kids in the whole world to read her book and how exciting that was!

Students knew all about tardigrades and were able to identify many of the details of horseshoe crabs, comb jellies and the many chambered nautilus.

Similar to her Pembroke visit, Kim zoomed in from the Macro scale to the Micro scale, and talked about how the creatures in Extreme Survivors had overcome eons of glacial movements and other geologic changes. She led workshops with students and guided them in how to become Ace Reporters.

In the Grades 1 – 4 group, there was great imagination around the writing and understanding about ACE reporting techniques. Colin said,  “It can never be finished” (because you always polish your work). They also watched a tardigrade video together to make observations, and students provided detailed, close observations: “microscopic,” “chases stuff,” and “Does it have a tail?”

In the Grades 5 – 8 group, “Extremeophiles” shared their research projects with highlights that most intrigued them, such as “Comb Jellies have tentilla; tentacles on their tentacles!”Conversation even went to life in other universes and how tradigrades survive in space.

When they observed as ACE reporters, they came up with juicy words –Slither, Squirm, Waddle, and Wiggle!

Their news stories nicely incorporated the “Why care” element after the opening prompt of “An amazing animal lives in our town….”

They had lots of questions about what gave Kim inspiration, how the decisions get made for some of the visuals, and they were desperate to know how she narrowed it down from her original 20 animals to the 10 in the book.

What a wonderful experience for all of us! The teacher, students, Kim, and IRW staff all enjoyed learning together and discovering new things about the wild world we live in.

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