West Madison fifth-graders observe biomes at Tennessee Aquarium

Fifth-graders from West Madison Elementary School recently toured the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. (CONTRIBUTED)
Fifth-graders from West Madison Elementary School recently toured the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Slinky snakes, puffed-up penguins and an ominous shark intrigued West Madison Elementary School fifth-graders at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

About 70 students and 14 chaperones traveled on two charter buses for the annual trip, organized by Wendy Tibbs. The fifth-graders observed several biomes covered in the fifth-grade curriculum. A biome or ecosystem is a land or water area supporting a community of plants, animals and soil organisms.

Science teacher Whitney Lawrence said the students’ favorite exhibits were the penguins playing and swimming, a diver’s show with sharks and getting to pet the “legless lizard.”

“They also enjoyed petting the rays and a small shark,” Lawrence said. “Students noticed how animals ate and were eaten in the food chain, as well as the different areas (biomes) of the world that the animals are native to.”

The Madison group also watched an IMAX movie discussing symbiosis, or long-term interactions of different animal species and the food chain. “It was a great experience,” Lawrence said.

Fifth-grader Jake Gaertner liked the trout and river otters and experiencing the touching tanks. “The trout were the most interesting because of the way they catch their food. The trout swim against the current, holding their mouths open, and let the food go right in their mouths,” Gaertner said.

The Ocean Journey building with penguins and reptiles interested Joy Robinson. “I also enjoyed visiting the gift shop because we saw lots of knickknacks and other amazing stuffed animals that resembled some real life animals at the aquarium.”

Black and Southern stingrays with their leathery backs intrigued students in Robinson’s class.

More threatening animals and exhibits didn’t scare most students. “However, I must admit the shark kind of scared me a little bit when I turned around and all of a sudden it was there,” Robinson said. “I was so glad there was a glass casing in between us.”

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