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Schoolchildren Warm to Arctic Life Presentation

Ten-year-old Sydney Simons never knew much about marine life, the Arctic or polar bears. And she’s never been to SeaWorld in San Diego.

So, SeaWorld came to Sydney and about 470 other children at Justice Street Elementary School on Tuesday.

Although they didn’t see any live animals, SeaWorld’s presentation, “Arctic Animals,” made a big splash with students.

“It was really neat to hear about all the animals, but I want to see them live, now,” said Sydney, a fifth-grader.

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Marine science instructor Tanya MacMartin will visit six Valley elementary schools this week, as part of the SeaWorld Outreach program. The schools paid $375 each for two 45-minute assemblies by the theme park. SeaWorld makes the presentations throughout the western United States, visiting more than 1.5 million students annually.

“I think the best part is that we’re presenting information to kids who might not usually get to visit SeaWorld,” MacMartin said. “They’re learning while having fun, and that’s the most important part.”

The children learned facts about animals and life in the Arctic. For instance, polar bears can grow to be 16 feet tall and walruses use their tusks to fight.

Students also examined a polar bear’s skull, 3-foot-long walrus tusks and other artifacts. Some students bundled up like Arctic explorers or donned walrus costumes.

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“I thought it was very entertaining and really cool,” said fifth-grader Nicholas Pally, 10. “I usually fall asleep at school assemblies because they’re so boring, but not this one.”

After the program, MacMartin quizzed students about what they learned.

“What is a polar bear’s favorite food?” she asked.

“Seals,” the children yelled out.

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“That’s right,” she said. “Seals are a polar bear’s favorite candy bar.”


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