This story features a learning activity that took place prior to school closures due to COVID-19.
Members of the Cryptozoology Club at Coles Elementary School use inquiry-based learning to study mysterious creatures. In previous years, the club researched Bigfoot, unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and extraterrestrials. This year, the after-school club investigated mermaids, the kraken and the Loch Ness Monster.
The club is hosted by ESOL Teacher Tara Hamner, School Counselor Heather Mainwaring, Third-Grade Teacher Ellen Menzies and School Librarian Lisa Story. Fifty-one students in grades second through fifth enjoyed a variety of engaging activities that touched on many curriculum areas.
Story, who visited Scotland in the summer of 2017, used her personal photos to create a tale about a search for the Loch Ness Monster, also known as Nessie. “Activities included researching about Nessie and Nessie sightings and listening to a video of a scientist talking about Loch Ness,” she explained.
With this information, students wrote a postcard story about a trip to Loch Ness. Story incorporated technology into the session by video recording students reading their stories. Creating origami Nessies was another fun activity involving the Loch Ness Monster.
After listening to old fisherman stories and poems about the kraken, students used salt dough to create replicas of this mysterious creature. They also learned how to draw the kraken through a step-by-step art lesson.
Researching mermaids fascinated students. Third grade student Mikayla said, “There are different types of mermaids.” Students created their own mermaid costumes. In the end, the student vote on whether or not mermaids do exist was split, while most believe the kraken and the Loch Ness Monster do exist.
Take a look at the video to see the cryptozoologists searching for cryptids at Neabsco Creek Boardwalk. They did not find any, but they did learn a lot about protecting this area for the animals that make this wetland their home and those that visit it while migrating.