The SFHS IB Program Makes a Splash at the Georgia Aquarium


Used with permission from Ishita Raghuvanshi

Making waves. Seniors Livvi Philpot, Ayesha Raparla, Ishita Raghuvanshi, Rasagna Vuppala, Naisha Roy, and Brantley Jenkins pose in front of the “Ocean Voyager” exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium. They joined the trip as part of IB Group 4.

Naisha Roy, Copy Editor

On January 24th, 2022, the SFHS IB program took a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium as part of its science classes. Any IB student taking chemistry, biology, or physics was eligible to go on the trip. The event lasted from 8:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and included a “behind-the-seas” tour of the aquarium, a 4D movie experience and a seal show.

The field trip fulfilled the Group 4 Project component of the IB program in which students from different science classes collaborate to explore the nuances behind a specific scientific topic, in this case marine biology. In order to meet this requirement, the aquarium trip scheduled a “behind the seas” tour at 11:45 a.m. that discussed some of the intricacies of running the aquarium.

“My favorite part of the trip was when we got to go ‘backstage,’” explained senior Alex van Alstyne. “I liked learning more about the jobs you could do in marine biology, especially since it was a new part of the aquarium we hadn’t gotten to see before.”

The “behind the seas” tour led the IB students through the several filtration systems throughout the aquarium and through several science labs. It even included a view of the “surgery room” with all of the equipment needed to help treat injured animals. All the tools were on wheels, allowing them to be transported to any area tank where the specialists could swim along with the injured animals while treating them. 

My favorite part is watching IB students in a more relaxed setting while still having discussions on science-related content.

— Dr. Philpot, IB Chemistry Teacher and Chaperone

In addition, the tour included a view of the coral propagation tank for Key West. Scientists at the Georgia Aquarium grew coral through specialized methods to help replenish Key West, whose coral was suffering from a tissue disease. The tour guide explained that this was just one of the ways the aquarium was helping further scientific developments and giving back to the environment. 

The aquarium still had all of its normal exhibits open for SFHS students, including the Ocean Diver experience which housed the largest fish tank in the United States at a whopping 6.3 million gallons of water and was home to two whale sharks. According to the aquarium website, Ocean Diver includes “4,574 square feet of viewing windows, a 100-foot-long underwater tunnel, 185 tons of acrylic windows and one of the largest viewing windows in the world at 23-feet-tall by 61-feet-wide and 2-feet-thick.” Other notable aquarium exhibits included Cold Water Quest, Sharks: Predators of the Deep, Dolphin Coast, and Tropical Diver.

“I liked learning about how the animals affect the ecosystem and how we can help prevent so many sharks from dying out since they’re so misunderstood,” explained senior Ayesha Raparla.

To round out the trip, several students experienced the 4D theater which followed the journey of an octopus both escaping from predators and hunting its own prey. The event included bubbles, sprays of water, ocean-breeze-scented air, and seats that moved along with the ocean currents to give it a dynamic feel.

“The 4D theater’s sensory effects were really unusual,” explained Rasagna Vuppala. “I really liked it.”

View the slideshow below to see some pictures from the field trip!