Rohan, Amalie and the Seaweed Investigation
A Learning Story by Rohan, Amalie and Michelle

During our field trip to Lincoln Park for low tide Amalie was amazed at the large, beautiful seaweed that was floating by. She began collecting it and showing it around to everyone – ooh-ing and awe-ing about its beauty. This caught Rohan’s attention. So he began to collect it with her. They began really looking at the different types of seaweed. They were getting frustrated because they had too much seaweed to carry around and they really wanted to display and share these treasures. They decided to clear off a space on the cement just above the rocks and began laying out all the different types of seaweed. They began drawing an audience of other kids, adults and people just walking by.
I had brought low tide and sea life books along for identification. I handed Rohan one of the books and he began to identify the seaweed. Amalie had some previous knowledge from studying seaweed before and they went back and forth about which seaweed was which from the book. Other kids were guessing what the different seaweed was and even started giving the different seaweed nick names.
As it approached time for us to leave, I could see that Amalie was starting to panic about all the work they had put into this project and having to leave it. She and Rohan talked back and forth about what they could do and how we could transport it since they had decided they wanted to dry it out at school. As I listened, I offered something that I don’t usually do since we almost always leave everything we find on the beach, at the beach. I handed them some bags so that they could continue their investigation at school. They both gently laid the seaweed into the bags.
As soon as we got back to school, they ran to the side yard to lay the seaweed out to dry. The following school day, they both helped me to bring the seaweed in to display on a large table where I had seaweed identification books, paper and colored pencils out. We spent the entire morning researching, as a class, the different names of the seaweed, why they have these names and then drawing and labeling the specimens and writing a little bit about what we learned from the seaweed.

What it means
Rohan and Amalie, you really came together as a team to create a beautiful and engaging display of the different types of seaweed that you collected. You really stuck to what you wanted to do and found a way to display the seaweed and engage others at the beach. You also followed through with your desire to bring it back to school and we came up with a plan that allowed you to do this. Your passion for the seaweed and for sharing your passion with others was catching. The entire class now knows something they didn’t know before because of your willingness to share your project and the information you learned. I also noticed that you did all of this work and negotiating without losing your patience with each other, especially since I’ve seen you struggle to work together in the past. I have also noticed that you have turned this love of nature you both share into working on the hillside in the big yard together in a very cooperative and gentle way. Thank you for your interest, your passion and your commitment to sharing this love of nature with all of us and for showing us that a shared love of something like seaweed investigation can bring two people together and create a strong bonding friendship.

Opportunities and Possibilities
Watching two people who generally won’t play with the opposite gender, come together over this very simple act of seaweed collection and identification is a good reminder that crossing bias lines often comes when we join in a shared interest activity. I think this type of crossing over can be life changing in the struggle for kids to see that boys can work with girls and vice versa and that even if we are very different people or personalities or any other differences that we can love working together out of a passion for a shared interest. Partnering kids with others for different activities, even against their wishes often brings about this same effect especially if you know the kids and what interests they may share. Being open to them bringing the seaweed back to school, allowed them to feel proud, and to work as a team to share their knowledge with the rest of the class – remembering, that as a teacher, saying “yes” is so important and can change everything. Having kids teach each other is something I value and seeing this unfold has inspired me to have even more “child teaching” occur.