Jaws for Two:
Marine Biology 101

Having expanded Jack and Owen's collegiate art history class to include literature and the sciences, their level of interest has also expanded exponentially. This is their workbook.

The arts and sciences

Today, we have branched out into marine biology. Having spent many trips to the Indianapolis Zoo, they have petted small sharks there. After encountering these friendly and pet-able sharks, it was time for Jack and Owen to expand further their collegiate learning curve.

Having spent a great deal of time at the New Jersey shore while growing up, I especially like what is found in the ocean and what can be eaten that comes from those waters. A half dozen decades ago, while down at the shore, I bought this set of jaws of a shark.


In addition, I bought many aquatic souvenirs and put them in a display case...and basically forgot about them. After all these years in a display case at my home, it was time to share them with Jack and Owen. It would be a part of their expanded learning experience. In subsequent classes, they will have the opportunity to be introduced to a blowfish, a seahorse, a stingray tail, and hundreds of beautiful shells.

Case with fossils

As the class began, the first question that Jack asked was what I was holding. After explaining that it was a part of the skeleton of a shark, both he and his brother got into the learning process. I had put a couple of pictures in their notebook of two sharks in the water. He is pointing to the teeth in my jaws relative to those that he saw in the photos. I warned Owen that the teeth were very sharp. His reply was, "Sharp." He is two and will parrot much of which his learns both in class and in his regular life.

Al reading with Jack and Owen

It interests me how young toddlers learn not only about things but also the words associated with the object. If you were to listen to Owen, it is as if he is an intellectual vacuum machine. His mind sucks up everything he sees and about which he hears. Then he begins the process of committing it to his memory. Owen is in the process of determining just how sharp the shark's teeth are.

Jack noted that the photo of that shark in the ocean had a very large mouth and sharp teeth, which Owen has already discovered. Notice that Owen pulled his hand away from the shark's mouth.

Al with the boys

Owen knows that I kid around a great deal even while teaching. Therefore, when I mentioned that the shark was coming to get him, he laughed and pulled away his hand.

Al with Owen

After my attempt to make the class fun, Jack decides to add to the humor of their educational experience by taking the jaws and pretending to be a shark.

Jack playing with the jaws

Jack then wants to know about what sharks eat in the wild. Nevertheless, Owen wants Jack to know that he was not a shark and points to the picture as the real shark. Then Jack wanted to know whether I had ever caught a shark. I had but it was thrown back into the ocean due to it being both small and I did not have any shark recipes. I was going to tell him about blue fish, but that will have to wait for another time.

Al with Jack

Finally, to end this marine biology class, I tell them that I am a shark, and they scatter in laughter....

Al showing Owen the jaws