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June 1, 2010 > MaST is no fishy matter

MaST is no fishy matter

Submitted By Veronika Navarra

In the Star Lab at Newark Memorial High School, lights are dimmed, spotlights on, students dressed in black slacks, and the fish are swimming. This was the scene on Thursday April 15 when docents of the MaST, Marine and Science and Technology Institute, sponsored an Open House to share the aquarium with the community.

Throughout the night, over 650 people of various ages, races, and sizes were able to enjoy the Star Lab aquarium exhibits, presentations, and crafts.

One of the newest additions to the fresh water, "Rare and Endangered" tank, includes two Fly River soft shell, pig nosed, freshwater turtles. These turtles are found in Northern Australia and New Guinea, and have just recently been taken off of the endangered species list. In this same tank the school has an 18-inch Arowana, found in the South American Amazon, which has the ability to jump up and out of the water. Another featured creature in this tank is the Siamese Tiger Fish, usually found in Thailand. Unfortunately, this type of fish is extinct in the wild because of over fishing.

Another main attraction to the Star Lab is its 1,000 gallon shark tank holding five leopard sharks and two bat rays. They also have some recently donated Moon Jellies sponsored by DeVry University. These jellies are found in tropical waters, but are also in the San Francisco Bay like most of the other sea creatures in the aquarium. Ripple Effect Water Gardens recently donated a Koi tank filled with goldfish and approximately 20 varieties of Koi. Another generous donation of fish food was received from the San Francisco Bay Brand company. MaST is very appreciative of its sponsors.

The Open House featured hands on exhibits, touching of the sea creatures, arts and crafts, the "Going Fishing" game, and operating underwater robots. For arts and crafts there were Fly River Turtles made of decorated paper plates and also Gyotaku fish painting art that anyone could easily make. Kids could also practice their fishing skills in MaST's lagoon tank by using a "fishing rod" (magnets) to catch some "fish" (magnets with paper fish); once you caught a special fish you could claim your prize at the gift shop. The Ocean Explorer's club had several underwater robots called ROV's (remotely operated vehicles) available to take out for a spin. The Tidal Touch tank was open for visitors to hold hermit crabs, touch a sea anemone or even pet a starfish. There was also a squid dissection taking place where guests could see the anatomy of a squid.

Along with the tanks already mentioned, MaST has a Reef tank with fish and sea life found in tropical coral reefs, a Pacific Coast tank with starfish and barred surfperch that are found in our nearby ocean, the Central Bay tank with several starry flounders, and the Wharf tank with an environment similar to the actual wharfs around the bay, containing barred surfperch. All the tanks were manned by the MaST's student docents, who run the entire program and teach 3rd and 4th graders on a weekly basis.

Everyone in MaST felt that the Open House was a giant triumph. "I felt that our open house was a huge success because we got to show over 600 people from the community some of the many wonderful aquatic animals that exist," commented Janette Perez, 6th period head curator. Newark Memorial's Assistant Principal, Millie Kessler said, "Your students were enthusiastic, well informed, and organized - in short, an outstanding example of the great work our students do. The MaST program is a showcase for Newark Memorial High School and our students."

Everyone in MaST would like to thank the community for coming out to support us and all of our sea life!

Veronika Navarra who is in the 10th grade at Newark Memorial High School is a MaST docent.

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