TACOMA, WASH. - Think of it as a 22-foot long puzzle with about 215 pieces and its own distinctive smell. For four months a select group of Stadium High School students have been trying to solve this puzzle.
“We are building a whale !” says Biology teacher Phil Hertzog.
A real whale. A Humpback yearling who washed ashore outside Gig Harbor. Now the newest addition to the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum.
“When I had an opportunity to get this whale, I thought this is something kids should do,” says the museum’s Education Program Director Jan Adams.
Josh Arcena ‘s group is attaching barnacles to the phalanges.
“Not many people are going to be able to say in their lives that they actually put together an entire whale skeleton,” he says.
Elizabeth Mcinnis is part of a group trying to mount pelvic bones.
“Even though they are not attached inside the body,” she says. “They still are shaped to accommodate each other so we're trying to figure out how they fit together.”
“It's not just building a whale,” says Hertzog. “It's learning to work with others. It's learning how to solve problems.”
Like figuring out how to reassemble the whale's baleen -- used for filter feeding.
"Oh I'm so proud of these kids. You can't believe how proud I am of these kids.” says Adams.” I have never seen kids work so hard, be so dedicated, and they're meticulous about doing the best job they possibly can.”
"'m hoping that people in Tacoma will come see this whale and appreciate how cool these creatures are and that they live in our ocean and we have to start protecting the,” says student Bianca Ponnekanti.
“This is something they'll come back to fifty years from now, look up in the rafters and tell their grandkids ‘Hey! I did that!’” says Hertzog.
The Foss Waterway Seaport Museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays.
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