Whales, STEAM, and Project-based learning!

We absolutely love this wonderful project around whales that educator, Jill Liepelt, facilitated with her 2nd grade students (as featured on the Partnership for 21st Century Learning website) ! The students engaged creatively with math, writing, and science and more through exploring aspects of whales. We immediately thought of some additional sound and music connections to expand the STEAM element of the project.

Photo by William Hartman

Musician David Rothenberg is well known for the music he makes with animals. Yes, Rothenberg has played the clarinet with whales! Here’s a great interview with David Rothenberg about his experience performing music with Whales. You can also read [some affiliate links below] Rothenberg’s book Thousand Mile Song about his experience and perspectives on performing with Whales. The book also comes with a CD of recordings.

Photo by Isaac Kohane

Along with having students share their perspectives about playing music with whales, this could launch into an investigation of how sound travels through water and an exploration of what a sonar is and does.

You could also have children listen to and describe the sound of whales singing on the Whalesong project website.

Why not have children create their own whale music either using the sound of whales with an application such as GarageBand or with whatever sounds and instruments you have access to?

Photo by Stacy

Looking for other ways to integrate theater and storytelling in relation to the theme of whales? Consider looking at the fabulous book, Reading in a participatory culture Remixing Moby Dick in the English classroom by Henry Jenkins and Wyn Kelley, which goes into detail on how young people engaged with the story Moby Dick in all kinds of creative ways.

Photo by Keith Gibson


Also, consider taking a look at our project ideas for Shark Week, including a number of musical and creative ways to address themes around the ocean!

Original photo by Tony Webster
Original photo by Tony Webster