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Learning from the real world at the Aquarium of the Pacific

16 March, 2018

Chen-En Hsieh, from Taiwan, is on the Undergraduate Preparation Program at Kings Los Angeles (Marymount). He tells us what he learned from a recent visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.

To learn more about the world, we can study in a classroom, but also field trips are a magnificent way to absorb the knowledge that you've already studied or heard about. In my opinion, the best way to gain insight into something is to really see it and touch it.

Two weeks ago, Kings MCU took students to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. The species there were various, such as dolphins, sharks, frogs, penguins, sea lions and sea turtles. There were two activities in the aquarium which were memorable and truly impressive.

First, generally speaking, sharks are quite dangerous and aggressive; therefore, most children are told to stay away from sharks when they are young. However, the sharks in the aquarium were mild and nonaggressive. They were in a pool, called Shark Lagoon, in which we could touch the sharks and stingrays. Although I was kind of scared, I still touched them. The sharks' skins were very smooth and a little bit sticky, and they moved pretty fast, so I was very focused in order to touch them. That was my first time to touch sharks. It was amazing!

Another great feature of the Long Beach Aquarium is the chance to feed parrots. Outside, there was a huge cage that allowed 10 to 15 people to get inside. The thing people have to be cautious is to never allow parrots to escape the cage. There were 4 doors — 2 doors for getting in, 2 doors for getting out — and people had to follow the instructions to enter and exit. Before entered, I bought a cup of milk, cost 4 dollars, which is apparently a kind of drink for parrots. Then, I followed the instructions very carefully to walk in. Then, I saw so many parrots flying above my head. The scene that I saw was extraordinary. Their feathers were so colorful: green, red, yellow, orange, blue, brown, and they all mixed together in the sky. It was really incredible. One parrot landed on my arm, and started to drink the milk that I held in my right hand. As a result, I could look closer at it. Its feathers were delicate and vivid, and it had a very tiny but sharp beak. In fact, if you looked pretty close at them, they were kind of scary because of big and round staring eyes. However, when they flew in the sky, they were just beautiful and amazing.

To sum up, this trip was a very good learning experience. It was a great opportunity to get closer to marine animals that people don't usually see, and even touch them. Also, the trip let me understand that knowledge is not only learned in books, since information in books is limited. The real world is outside, and I have to go out to discover it. What I learned from this trip is that if I want to understand something deeply, the best way is to actually see it in person.