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SeaWorld comes to West Penn Elementary

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    The West Penn Elementary fifth-graders got a close look at a few killer whales on Wednesday morning. Check out the video at JUSTIN CARLUCCI/TIMES NEWS

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    The West Penn Elementary fifth-graders interact with a SeaWorld instructor during a portion of Wednesday morning’s class. JUSTIN CARLUCCI/TIMES NEWS

Published October 19. 2019 05:39AM


West Penn Elementary School students enjoyed a unique learning experience on Wednesday morning.

Although nobody was able to feel the warm Florida weather, a group of 58 fifth-graders were as close as possible, receiving a virtual lecture from instructors at SeaWorld.

The interactive Skype session was displayed on Mrs. Michele Bittner’s fifth-grade projection screen. Students learned about the different types of whales and their behaviors.

None of Bittner’s students had previously ever seen a killer whale, which were the stars of Monday’s session.

“None of these students have ever been to SeaWorld,” Bittner said.

“The students felt as if they were in Florida sitting in the seats right in the middle of Shamu Stadium. So beyond the unknown, this interaction provides my students with an experience that they may never have again in their lifetime.

“Also, any time an animal is involved in the learning, the students are fully engaged. In my classroom, I am always trying to bring different learning experiences to my students. Today, they learned about the killer whales, but they also learned about careers, animal training, collaboration and so much more. No textbook can teach all of that in only a half-hour!”

The Live From SeaWorld experience is free. Interested educators can fill out a form on its website in hopes to be contacted by SeaWorld to set up a class.

“I found out about this amazing program from my daughter, Cailee, who worked at SeaWorld in their education department,” Bittner said. “SeaWorld is dedicated to educating children and people about their animals.”

The West Penn students were in awe as the whales splashed around, did some tricks, but most importantly gave the students a relatable way to learn.

“Today’s experience will fulfill many standards through our ELA curriculum,” Bittner said. “We will be writing thank-you letters to the trainers at SeaWorld, use our experience today to help us with an animal research project we will be starting in the near future, and use today’s interaction as a way to determine future career goals in our end-of-the-year career project, which cover a great deal of state standards and correlate directly with our ELA curriculum.”


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