Making sure children are entertained in these stay-at-home times is one thing.  Keeping them engaged, curious and wanting to learn new things can be a whole other.

That’s why Lissa Nunweiler was pleased to receive a note last month from her son’s Grade 5 teacher. It was a link destined to parents about Ocean Wise’s Online Learning livestreamed classes featuring scientists and experts from the Vancouver Aquarium. 

The topic of the day was Deep Sea Creatures, presented by Ocean Wise and Connected North. Lissa knew that would be right up her son Mateo’s alley. 

“Mateo is really interested in diving and snorkelling and stuff, so we thought it was a good topic for him,” explained Lissa from the family’s home in Sechelt, B.C. “They were talking about a lot of the sea creatures that live in our ocean, so we asked him after what deep sea creature he wanted to learn more about.”

For Mateo, the answer was easy.  “The Giant Pacific octopus,” he exclaimed. “We have these crab traps [near our home] and sometimes we might pull up an octopus. It made me curious to find out more about them.”

He said there was plenty he didn’t know about one of the ocean’s iconic creatures. 

“I learned they have three hearts, they have blue blood and they don’t have tentacles – they have arms,” explained Mateo, adding he was also fascinated by how smart they are. 

But Mateo didn’t stop there. Combing the nearby beach for objects and with the octopus facts still fresh in his mind, Mateo spent the rest of the day creating an impressive sculpture representing his experience. 

The body is made up of driftwood found on the beach. Mateo did the hard work putting the arms together with his dad’s drill. Pieces of green-coloured glass serve as the animal’s eyes, while blue and clear ones mimic bubbles billowing up to the surface. 

Though the artwork is impressive, Mateo said he won’t be putting it up for sale anytime soon – this particular piece is staying with him as a souvenir of his online learning experience and his favourite deep sea creature. 

‘A field trip in your own house’

Mateo said he’s excited to get back to school and see his friends, but added he’s looking forward to more online classes about the ocean and the animals that call it home.

For her part, mom is equally thankful for the online learning option. 

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Lissa. “As parents we’re trying to figure out how to get our kids involved in more of these kinds of experiences from home. Teachers can use this resource and share it with parents and their classes. It’s really a great idea.”

“I’m working full-time at home, we’re still trying to get him staying on task and learning things, and the Vancouver Aquarium stuff is really cool. It’s like a field trip in your own house.” 

Ocean Wise continues to offer daily educational livestreams with ocean experts on various topics for children learning from home. 

Click here to see the schedule of upcoming free livestreams with Ocean Wise and Connected North. Some streams may require registration including name and email as quality and security assurance for the audience.

Lissa Nunweiler and her son Mateo

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One Response

  1. Jennifer Goerzen

    Way to go Mateo! I was excited to read this article your teacher shared with the school. It’s really great to see your enthusiasm for learning about your local environment, and the creative work of art you made. That is one awesome octopus sculpture! Your teacher has come up with some awesome ways to make learning fun even though we can’t meet in person right now. What a fantastic memory you’ll have of challenging yourself during this time of distance learning.


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