Sanibel Sea School educators Nicole Finnicum, Johnny Rader, and Shannon Stainken, along with students Ben and Jonah Froelich and Addison Sprecher, prepared to Skype with students in Ohio. 

Sanibel Sea School educators Nicole Finnicum, Johnny Rader, and Shannon Stainken, along with students Ben and Jonah Froelich and Addison Sprecher, prepared to Skype with students in Ohio. 

Thanks to a partnership with the PBS KIDS Ready to Learn program, some of the homeschooled students who visit Sanibel Sea School regularly had a chance to connect with students in the Columbus, Ohio area via Skype. The groups participated in a form of cultural exchange, educating one another about a local environmental science topic of their choice. 

“After the PBS KIDS series Splash and Bubbles filmed at Sanibel Sea School in 2016, we were invited to join the network’s educational outreach efforts,” said Director of Education Nicole Finnicum. “They connected us with elementary school teachers in Ohio, and together we devised a plan to facilitate a series of interstate student interactions,” she added. 

That plan included the exchange of “lessons in a box” before the Skype sessions took place between classrooms. Sanibel Sea School’s students chose to teach their Ohio peers about the lightning whelk life cycle, and sent sand, shells, and egg cases to them through the mail. In return, they received a hands-on lesson about Ohio buckeyes and ladybugs. On the day of the first video phone call, participants took turns opening the boxes and sharing what they knew about their topics.

“It was so much fun to see the Ohio kids’ excitement as they asked us endless questions about shells, and to observe our own students’ curiosity as they examined a box of buckeyes for the first time,” said Finnicum, who grew up in Ohio and loved collecting buckeyes as a child. “It’s really incredible how much you can learn from a thirty-minute conversation with people from a different region of our country.” Two more exchange sessions will take place later this month. 

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org. 

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