Last week in New Bedford, Our Sisters’ School’s seventh-graders were joined by Lloyd Center Educators Jasmine Smith-Gillen and Morgan Gallagher, as well as Lloyd Center representative Delphi the Whale. Delphi is a life-size wooden replica of a Pilot Whale skeleton. From head to tail, she is 12 feet long and her massive size never fails to astound and fascinate the students she helps to teach.
Delphi is an integral part of the Lloyd Center ‘Delphi the Whale’ program. By helping to assemble Delphi, Our Sisters’ School students closely examined Pilot Whale anatomy. The students then compared Delphi’s bones to the bones of land mammals they were more familiar with, like themselves. Through these comparisons, they were able to question why Delphi’s skeletal form is suited for her aquatic environment, and thereby gain a better understanding of whales, adaptations, and evolution.
This lesson focuses on classifications of whales, differentiating toothed from baleen whales, and illustrates the adaptations of each group. The students are presented with pieces of baleen to better comprehend the size and texture, while viewing clips of baleen whales feeding.
The next unit in Our Sisters’ School curriculum focuses on light and sound, so the Delphi program was slightly altered to emphasize these topics within the discussions of marine habitats and whale adaptations. Having received this introduction to whale sensory perception, particularly the use of echolocation, the girls’ next science unit can be considered from a biological as well as physical perspective.