No Hawaii unit would be complete without a study of sea turtles! Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water, where not much information can be gathered on their behavior.
Most of what is known about sea turtle behavior is obtained by observing hatchlings and females that leave the water to lay eggs. Sea turtles, like salmon, will return to the same nesting grounds at which they were born.
When females come to the shore they dig out a nest in the ground with their back flippers, bury their clutch of eggs and return to the ocean. After hatching, the young may take as long as a week to dig themselves out of the nest.
They emerge at night, move toward the ocean and remain there, solitary, until it is time to mate. To apply our understanding of this new information, we created a habitat for our sea turtle eggs, consisting of gravel for the water, rocks, shells, sea turtles, and clear jewels as our eggs.
Constructing a habitat can be a powerful educational tool. It not only provides a means to apply one’s understanding of new information, but conveys that information in an interesting and dynamic way that appeals to young learners.