Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ocean Box: Sponges

If you are looking for a great science course on the ocean check out, "Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day".  This is a course that we completed last year. At the end of each section we made a creature for our ocean box to commemorate the completion of that study.  In the last section one of the creatures we studied was the sponge.  So today I want to talk a little about sponges.

There are thousands of different species in the ocean.  Not all sponges are soft, some are hard & prickly. They come in all shapes & some are as tiny as your finger or as large as a shower stall.   They all look like they are plants instead of animals.

Although it is an animal it has no eyes, ears, brain, nerves, heart, or blood.  Sponges attach themselves to a rock and are "sessile", which means they never move from that spot.  What makes them an animal & not a plant is the fact that they are consumers...they eat food.

So, what do sponges eat?  They filter bacteria, algae, filth, & debris out of the water.  They actually suck in the water, clean it of all the junk, & then release clean water back into the ocean.  They are filter feeders...they filter or clean the water.  An adult sponge can clean a bathtub full of water every hour!

Now before they are grown & stick themselves permanently to a rock (become sessile), they are actually larvae.  They can swim a little but usually just float around with the current.  This makes them plankton...anything that floats around in the water without the ability to swim is plankton.  So they just float around until they can find a rock to stick to. Sometimes they find something else to stick to like a ship, the back of a crab, or the shell of another animal & will stay there & travel with them.   

Sponges can be found in the ocean, fresh water, hot waters, freezing waters, they can be in the deep ocean, or right near the surface.  Anyplace that needs cleaning.

To learn more about sponges & other sea creatures order this course for your is worth every penny!  After each section you will have an ocean box activity, as well as other activities & experiments to coincide with the subject.

To make the sponge for our ocean box we used Playdough because we were out of modeling clay.  I like modeling clay because it is as light as foam when it dries so it is easy to add to your box without weighing it down. We used white modeling clay for our items so that we could paint them however we needed to.

For our sponge however, we used some orange Playdough.  First roll a couple of pieces into a cylinder shape.  Then take a pencil or pen & make a hole in the top for the opening.  We pinched the edges of the hole to fan out the opening a little.  We then hot glued the two cylinders together & then glued them to a base as well (see photo).  Then we glued the whole thing to the "ocean floor".

So order the course & have fun watching your kids learn about God's amazing ocean!

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