Fourth-graders leave their mark at Living Planet Aquarium

Published: Tuesday, May 7 2013 6:15 p.m. MDT

Castle Dale Elementary School fourth-grader Landon Burke looks over a model of a new exhibit that will be an educational feature in the Deep Sea Gallery at the new Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, a 136,000-square-foot expansion scheduled to open in December. The students learned about ocean water pressure at The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SANDY ­— Fourth-graders from Castle Dale Elementary School left their mark at The Living Planet Aquarium on Tuesday.

A pair of Styrofoam mannequin heads featuring their signatures will be displayed in the new Deep Sea Gallery opening in December in the new Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.

The aquarium is partnering with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to showcase a water pressure exhibit as part of the Deep Sea Gallery.

One of the signed Styrofoam heads will be sent to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where it will be lowered by submarine into a deep sea trench. The Styrofoam, shrank by water pressure, will be returned to the aquarium in Utah and put on display.

Chris Barela, art director for The Living Planet Aquarium, said having as much exposure to aquariums in Utah as possible is important.

“Not a lot of museums have (deep sea exhibits) right now,” he said. “(The new gallery) will allow kids to be fully encompassed by what they normally wouldn’t.”

A California native, Barela said he's familiar with sea creatures, but he meets people every day who have never seen a shark or an octopus.

"Whenever we do new exhibits, it allows kids to see something they’ve never seen before," he said. “That’s the importance of having an aquarium in Utah.”

Fourth-grader Wade Huggard signed his name above the ear on the Styrofoam head. He said having his signature in the museum is “gonna be a cool thing.” Wade said he wants to come back and see the gallery when it opens.

His mother, Jamie Huggard, said despite the 2 ½-hour drive from Castle Dale to Sandy, it was a great experience for her son and his classmates.

“He’ll love to learn more about the ocean,” she said. “He already has a bunch of questions about it.”

Courtnie Reid, another Castle Dale fourth-grader, said having her name on the head in the museum made her feel “funny and happy,” and she looks forward to returning to see it on display.

Living Planet spokeswoman Angie Hyde said when aquarium officials found out about the Deep Sea Gallery addition, they wanted to give kids a hands-on educational experience.

“Education is a challenge,” she said. “But when you put something tangible in front of them, they remember.”

eeagar@deseretnews.com

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