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Unique identifiers: Seahorses

Posted on August 19th, 2020 in Quirky curious, STEM gems
Seahorse

Fun fact: The male seahorse gives birth to hundreds of babies.

Introduction

Each seahorse has a crown, called a coronet, which is a unique identifier. Just like seahorses can be distinguished by their coronets, humans can be distinguished by their fingerprints. Encourage the children to investigate their own fingerprints and compare them with others’.

Equipment

One print-out of the seahorse picture per child, finger paint

Method

The children use their fingers and paint to add a coronet to the seahorse in the picture and then compare their coronet with another child’s. Can you spot any differences? Each coronet will be different because fingerprints are unique.

What’s the STEM?

Children learn they are unique. Everybody has a different fingerprint, different ideas and different ways of looking at the same thing.

Interesting facts for adults

Did you know that even identical twins have different fingerprints? A fingerprint is an impression of the tiny ridges that form arches, whorls and loops on your fingertip. Foetuses form fingerprints in the womb. Fingerprints are unique and no two people will ever have the exact same fingerprints.

What type of animal are seahorses? They are upright fish, which means that they have a backbone and belong to the vertebrates. How do they move? Perhaps you can watch a video with the children. Seahorses can be between 1cm and 35cm long, and they have a type of armour that makes them super crunchy and puts predators off. They dance with their partners and make a noise you can sometimes hear underwater.

Observations, conclusions and extensions

Some of the seahorse’s physical attributes can remind you of other animals. Did you know that seahorses have tails like monkeys that they use to cling to seaweed to stop them from being washed away? Male seahorses have pouches like kangaroos, in which they carry the eggs. And, of course, their horse-like heads gave them their name. (Although we think they look more like foxes.) Together with the children, make up other crazy mixed-up animals that could live under the sea: How do your made-up animals move? What do they eat? Where do they live? How do they sleep?

You could also take the children on a bushwalk or to a park or have a look around the garden. Do all the leaves on a tree look the same? Can they see any animals? Do all the cockatoos look the same? Which differences can they see? What about ants? Can they see any differences in their appearance? Encourage the children to describe one particular animal or leaf in detail. Can the other children guess which one they mean?

STEM language

Use your explorations to introduce this STEM vocabulary to the children:

coronet, unique, fingerprints, loops, whorls and arches, vertebrate, pouch, predators.

About the author:
HAYLEY BATES, National Certifications Coordinator

Hayley Bates

Hayley has an insatiable thirst for learning – about everything! Her sheer joy of discovery and passion for professional development makes her the perfect person to run the Little Scientist’s House Certification program.

Never happier than seeing what happens to balloons in the freezer or exploring the projects submitted by services for certification, her enthusiasm is complemented by her background in science and maths making her the ideal coordinator for our Little Scientists Houses.

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