New program in schools brings science to life for New Bedford students

All About Whales developed by New Bedford Whaling Museum

October 5, 2016

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – A new Grade 4 whale science program developed by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and running in New Bedford schools this fall, is bringing science to life for students and helping teachers meet Massachusetts science curriculum goals. The All About Whales teaching unit combines classroom learning led by teachers and Museum education staff, with two visits to the Museum, and is designed to help children answer questions such as:  What are oceans? What physical characteristics of whales enable them to live in the ocean? How do whales use sound energy to communicate, find food and navigate in the ocean? At the same time, children build important literacy and math skills. All About Whales is offered at no charge to participating schools in New Bedford, thanks to the generous support of Jim and Bess Hughes, and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.  

Jason DeFalco, Ed.D., Chief Academic Officer, New Bedford Public Schools said, “This type of partnership is key for our teachers, and even more important for our students. The work our teachers do with the Whaling Museum allows them to develop a deeper understanding of science and history, which then translates into work in the classroom to the benefit of students. Units like All About Whales bring the material to life. When the kids are authentically engaged; when they find value and meaning in a subject, they are better able to remember what they’ve learned, use it and apply it.”

All About Whales uses two of the Museum’s core subject areas - whales and ocean health - to teach skills that include literacy, experimenting, problem-solving, sorting, measuring, and observing. The program encompasses pre-visit preparation by teachers, activities led by Whaling Museum educators in the classroom with follow-up teacher-led activities, and two visits to the Museum. During their Museum visits, students examine the life of whales using interactive displays and activities that provide a multi-sensory, immersive experience. These activities cover whale biology and conservation, and employ authentic skeletons of a rare juvenile blue whale, a sperm whale, a humpback whale, and a pregnant North Atlantic right whale. Students complete a capstone project at the end of the teaching unit. Student work will be displayed at the Museum during Right Whale Day in April 2017.

All About Whales grew out of a successful after-school pilot program that ran in John B. DeValles Elementary School in New Bedford in 2014/2015.  The new program is currently running in six schools: Elizabeth C. Brooks, James B. Congdon, John B. DeValles, Alfred J. Gomes, John Hannigan and William H. Taylor Elementary Schools.

Sarah Rose, Vice President of Education and Programs, New Bedford Whaling Museum said, “Children develop deep and lasting passion for the ocean environment as they become more familiar with the marine mammals that live right off the shores of New Bedford. This strong connection engages students in the material that is presented using many different modalities – reading, writing, experimentation and collaborative problem-solving. Through this curriculum, students will better appreciate New Bedford’s relationship with the ocean and the major role Buzzard’s Bay plays in this port city’s history. We are grateful to the New Bedford Public Schools for providing us with this opportunity to reach into the schools and share our excitement about whales.” 

Contact: Gayle Hargreaves
Director of Marketing
New Bedford Whaling Museum
508-997-0046 Ext. 139 (office)

About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales through time, and the history and culture of the South Coast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours April through December: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is: Free for Museum members and children aged three and under; adults $16, seniors (65+) $14, students (19+) $9, child and youth $6. For more information, visit

Click on image to view and download or contact Gayle Hargreaves to inquire about photographing in the schools.


Whaling Museum staff member Josie Tilly worked with grade 4 students from DeValles School in New Bedford during a visit to the Whaling Museum as part of the pilot program for "All About Whales."