Ew, what’s that smell in Room 345?

photos courtesy of Katie Noonan, science teacher at Oakland High School

The small one weighed 20 pounds. Hoisting the big one onto a scale was out of the question, so the kids in Katie Noonan’s tenth-grade biology class at Oakland High School skipped that part and went straight to work with their forceps and scissors.

Two Humboldt squids were the source of the excitement — and the smell — coming from Room 345.

The frozen specimens were delivered to Noonan’s classroom through the Squids-4-Kids program, a partnership between Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz, CA.

On Monday, students cut the animals open to see if they could find out what they had been eating (no luck there), they compared the size of the squids’ eyes to a cow’s eye that Noonan had on hand (the squids’ eyes are much larger) and they examined their suckers under a microscope.

“It was a really amazing opportunity to look at something that big,” Noonan said.

Noonan said any teacher can apply for this program.

Need any tips on organizing a lab like this? Have any questions? Ask away, and she’ll try to answer them here.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Ms. McLaughlin

    It’s the smell of success!

    Thank you for highlighting Ms. Noonan’s class. The Environmental Science Academy at Oakland High is one of the underreported gems in our much aligned school district. When the kids aren’t examining sea life up close, they’re off on numerous fascinating field trips that many private-school students would envy.

    And just look at those smiling, engaged faces! The kids who had their hands on those squids will never forget that experience, and they’re still talking about it. My favorite student discussions of the month: WHY do restaurants bleach calamari to make it white? Ewwww! We’re just going to eat it anyway, who wants to eat Clorox? and so on and so on and so on.

    Ms. Noonan rocks the world.

  • Ms. McLaughlin

    I missed an “m” in “maligned,” by the way, but all the better. “much aligned” is wishful thinking for the future. There’s much valuable learning going on in the OUSD, and thanks again for bringing one precious corner of it to light.