Not everyone knows that giraffes have 22-pound hearts. But, if they were paying attention, Pine Grove Elementary School second-graders in Veronica Burns' and Amber Monsod's classes know.
There were plenty of facts flying around about giraffes, scorpions, king cobras, lions, eagles, elephants, penguins, cheetahs and other animals during the recent culmination of the students' animal research projects. Parents were invited and the students presented what they had learned in front of them and their classmates.
"We're getting them ready for third grade," said Burns, who coordinated the research projects.
She has been asking students to do this for years in her classroom. This time, the program was expanded to the other second-grade classes at the school.
Besides Burns' and Monsod's classes, children in Dawn Childers', Tujuana Massenburg's, Laura Reiker's and Cindy Martin's classes also researched animals. The children chose their topics, researched them, using technology and the library, and, Burns said, "put it into proper paragraphing."
Reading their research and describing the habitat dioramas they made was practice in communication, which, Burns said, ties in with the Common Core State Standards.
Ashley Tanner, 27, was at the event to hear her daughter, Madison Seeman, 7, present her report on giraffes. After she and Madison learned that polar bears spend most of their time in the arctic oceans and penguins rip seemingly effortlessly through Antarctic waters, she said: "I think it's really good learning. We had a lot of fun making the habitat together."
Burns coordinated the research projects with an Earth Day musical in the cafeteria after the classroom presentations. The show included several songs, including We Wish You a Happy Earth Day.
More than 55 students participated in the musical. Burns was assisted by University of South Florida intern Rachael Wickstrom.