Eufaula GEAR UP sixth graders tour OK Aquarium and Tulsa Community College


WILBURTON, OK (March 6, 2018) – Fifty-one Eufaula GEAR UP students recently traveled to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, then to Tulsa to tour Tulsa Community College (TCC). Students began the morning by participating in a guided tour at OK Aquarium. Education Specialist Michelle Zarantonello led students through the back rooms that house the quarantine tanks. The “Swim into Science” tour was a behind the scenes tour of how the biologist tend to and prepare aquatic animals for the museum exhibits. The animals rotate in the exhibits and the aquarium receives new animals frequently. On this day Eufaula students got to see stingrays, starfish, an alligator snapping turtle, a bearded dragon, a ball python and numerous coral. Zarantonello showed students the luminescent power of the coral when she put a blue light over each one. Students wore special glasses to see the glow.

In the public side of the aquarium students started their journey at the “Sea Turtle Island” exhibit where a new, large tank with small sharks, a puffer fish and the featured sea turtle were on display. The aquarium also included a unique tube for students to crawl inside the actual tank but still stay dry. Next students got to explore the “Shark Tank” with a walk–through tunnel for the full experience of bull sharks swimming overhead and being fully surrounded by the tank. There was also an open tank where students could feed stingrays and see them bury themselves in the sand.

“The Aquarium is a wonderful facility to show students a new side to science. The updated exhibits kept students excited about learning and peaked their interests about careers in the science fields,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo.

After lunch, students toured the Southeast campus of Tulsa Community College (TCC). Admissions Counselor Nash McQuarters and Student Recruiter William Baldwin led students through the beautiful campus. There are four main campuses in the Tulsa area. The Southeast campus is the largest with approximately 10,000 students. Programs are hands on to prepare students to transfer to a four-year university or directly into the workforce. Class sizes are small, averaging only 25 students.

Students began the tour in Building 6, also known as the Performing Arts Center for Education (PACE) Building. This state-of-the-art facility houses the performing arts programs and serves as the performance hall for the Signature Symphony at TCC, TCC Music and Theatre productions. There are two theatres in the PACE building to host an array of visiting artists and performance groups as well as spaces for student productions. Students were able to go behind the scenes to see the smaller Black Box Theatre.

Next students made their way to Building 9 where the gymnasium and Student Life office is located. While walking through the gym, Eufaula students saw a heated basketball game between TCC students. They also learned that the Student Life offices are where all Student Organizations are established. TCC students also can get discounted tickets to events, shows and other attractions around the Tulsa area such as the Zoo. Students also got to see inside the campus library located in Building 5. The TCC libraries have over 60,000 books.

While walking though the “Hub” (food court) inside Building 7, TCC students Marc Westcott and Tyler Bond took time to let students know about a campus event called “HVS” or Humans vs. Zombies. This is a fun social event around campus for students to get to know each other in a fun way. The last stop was Building 8 where math and science programs are located. Here students saw inside chemistry lab classrooms and the Health Sciences Center. The Health Sciences Center is a state of the art teaching facility that can also serve as a trauma center in the event of a natural disaster or local emergency.

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

Eufaula students stop for a quick pic in front of the “Aquatic Oklahoma” exhibit at the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: Brady Hughes, Braden Flud, Dale Hill, Prestin Letcher (in tube), Jonas Kaulaity and Aidin Hinnenkamp.

Students get to pet a Ball Python at the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: OK Aquarium Education Specialist Michelle Zarantonello, Charlie Simmons, Tucker Leathers, Xander Smith and Chebon Pigeon.

Students check out a dried coral as OK Aquarium staff Michelle Zarantonello explains how coral thrive in the oceans. Pictured are: Noah Stewart, Ryan Swepston, Trent Montgomery, Joey Reiter, Ashton McIntosh, Bryan Scarborough, Michael Lee, Xander Smith and Jayden Watkins.

Eufaula 6th grade boys at the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: (front row, left to right) Taber Grider, Jason Hill, Andrew Robinson, Ra’Shon Watts, Jeffrey Hicks, William Garrett, Kamryn Criswell, (row 2) Gabe Mortensen, Dale Hill, Jonas Kaulaity, Keith McGuire, Nathan McNatt, Joshua Lee, Logan Johnson, (row 3) Michael Brannon, Gunnar Tillotson, Aidin Hinnenkamp, Brady Hughes, Draven Gragg, Braden Flud, Preston Dalton, Kamden Miller, (back row) Prestin Letcher, Braylen Burton, Gannon Dozier and Jaydin Bray.

Students explore the “Ozark Stream” exhibit at the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: Kamryn Criswell, Gunnar Tillotson, Jeffrey Hicks, Kamden Miller and Brady Hughes.

OK Aquarium Education Specialist - Michelle Zarantonello shows students coral in the quarantine tanks. Pictured are: Gannon Dozier, Joshua Lee, Michael Brannon, Aidin Hinnenkamp, Andrew Robinson and Braden Flud.

Eufaula 6th grade boys in front of the Sea Turtle Island exhibit at the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: (front row, left to right) Jayden Watkins, Hunter Menees, (middle row) Charlie Simmons, Quade Laughlin, Noah Stewart, Cody Phillips, Oliver O’Connor, Kyn Brillo, Joey Reiter, Cory Thomas, Michael Lee, Xander Smith, Ashton McIntosh, (back row) Bryan Scarborough, Kaden Cragg, Tucker Leathers, Kamden Miller, Ryan Swepston, Rocky Sallee-Hicks, Trent Montgomery, Gavin Watkins, Ming Lin, Landon Mills, Chebon Pigeon and Gunnar Tillotson.

Students get caught inside the Shark Cage at the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: Bryan Scarborough, Noah Stewart, Ryan Swepston, Gunner Tillotson, Quade Laughlin, Oliver O’Connor, Kyan Brillo, Kamden Miller, Kaden Cragg, Charlie Simmons and Cory Thomas.

Eufaula students get a close look at the stingrays in “The Ecozone” inside the OK Aquarium. Pictured are: Kyan Brillo, Oliver O’Connor, Hunter Menees, Landon Mills, Kaden Cragg, Michael Lee, Kamden Miller and Cody Phillips.

Eufaula students explore the outside area at Tulsa Community College. Pictured are: Chebon Pigeon, Ra’Shon Watts, Taber Grider, Noah Stewart and Draven Gragg.

Students tour the PACE Building at the Southeast Campus of Tulsa Community College. Pictured are: Hunter Menees, Jonas Kaulaity, Kyan Brillo, Kavan Colbert, Jaydin Bray, Tucker Leathers, Taber Grider, Trent Montgomery, Brady Hughes, Ra’Shon Watts, Bryan Scarborough, Rocky Sallee-Hicks, Ryan Swepston, Logan Johnson, TCC Admissions Counselor Nash McQuarters, Braylen Burton and William Garrett.

Eufaula students tour Tulsa Community College, Southeast Campus. Pictured are: Ming Lee, Trent Montgomery, Aidin Hinnenkamp, Hunter Menees, Gunnar Tillotson, Gavin Watkins, Bryan Scarborough, Rocky Sallee-Hicks, Jaydin Bray, Kamden Miller, Ashton McIntosh and Keith McGuire.

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