This past September, the Jewish Private School Kellman Brown Academy in Voorhees introduced its new Zoology curriculum taught by Melinda Starts. Starts has a background in marine biology and teaches science and technology to kids at the lower elementary school. The course had an official kickoff in early October, when “Eyes of the Wild,” an exotic animal rescue, brought animals to present to the students.
Throughout the year, students from preschool to fourth grade will be learning about invertebrates (animals without a backbone like worms, insects, mollusks and sponges) and vertebrates (animals with a back bone like mammals, birds and fish.)
“The great thing about this curriculum is that it’s an introduction to a lot of the concepts that they focus on in middle school, like conservation, life cycles, evolution, classification,” Starts said. “So when they go to middle school, they already have this introduction.”
Students will also be studying animal behavior, how they interact with the natural environment, environmental science, animal classification and how humans interact with these species.
“I think it’s important for kids to learn more about animals because I think when we understand animals and we get to know them better, it really connects us to the environment,” Starts added. “It instills a sense of responsibility and respect for life, and it really drives home the values that we teach at our school too.
“We have really strong values like respect for each other, respect for ourselves, respect for the earth too and zoology kind of ties in all of these components with the values that we teach at Kellman.”
While students in each grade level will be learning similar concepts, the activities will be tailored to each grade level’s abilities. The class will also feature experiments, guest speakers and occasional animal visitors.
In the spirit of learning about animals, Starts has also brought a colony of hissing cockroaches to be the class pets of Zoology 2. Though, initially unsure of how students would react, she reported that the students were enthusiastic and quickly embraced them.
“It was like a cheer, an eruption, everyone was so excited. The students could not wait to hold them, and I was so happy,” she said.
Starts hopes to continue the curriculum in future years as well.
To learn more about Kellman Brown Academy, visit https://www.kellmanbrownacademy.org/.