Scuba Diver Skype

Do you love the ocean?

Our first graders have been learning about the oceans and sea life in their science unit. It’s magical to watch their excitement as they learn about the amazing animals that live in the sea. Luckily for us in the Seattle area, we have lots of opportunities to see sealife in the Puget Sound.


The students will be visiting the Seattle Aquarium on Monday. To get them even more interested in sea life in the oceans, we skyped last week with Karen Zammitti and her father, Sal Zammitti, scuba diver and owner of BambooReef Enterprises, Inc in San Francisco, California. He and his wife Lou have been diving since the 1960’s. They can even read underwater!

sal and lou

I knew the Zammitti family when I lived in the San Francisco area of California as a teenager. In fact, Karen and I went to high school together! I spent many, many hours at the Zammitti house. That’s why I knew he would be the perfect expert for the first grade ocean unit.


Mr. Zammitti is a very experienced scuba diver has over the last 50+ years been instrumental in certifying over 10,000 people how to scuba dive. In 2011, he was awarded the California Scuba Service Award for his significant and long lasting contributions to the California diving community. He has been on several episodes of Mythbusters, including the Jaws episode. 

Mr. Zammitti talked to us via Skype from his main store in San Francisco. He told us about diving all over the world and showed us some of the equipment he uses on his dives. The students asked him if he ever sees sharks in the ocean and they were shocked to hear that he takes divers on shark divers! The divers go inside a large metal cage to keep them safe and the cage is lowered into the ocean. He said he loves sharks, even great white sharks! He does a lot of underwater photography and showed us the large waterproof case he uses to place is camera inside.

Sal Skype

Our students are still too young to scuba dive yet, but they are the perfect age to learn how to swim and snorkel in the wonderful lakes in our area. There are great dive shops in the Puget Sound, and if you are ever in San Francisco, stop by Bamboo Reef Enterprises and say hello to Mr. Zammitti and his daughter Karen! Here is a video he created when he dove in Raja Ampat in Indonesia.

Can you identify any of the sealife in the video? Here is a link to coral reef books available at the Kirkland and Kingsgate branches of the King County libraries. Take a trip there this summer and check them out! Coral Reef Books

 If you would like to learn more about BambooReef they can be found on Twitter @bambooreefscuba or on Facebook Bamboo Reef Diving Centers

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May is Mystery Skype Month


Are you in the United States?


This month has become “Skype” busy! We started with Dino Skype. Then we moved to Mystery Skype. On Monday, I posted on our new library bulletin board that I was looking for ten  volunteers in grades 3-5 to mystery Skype on Friday at lunch recess. The sign up sheet filled up. Then on Friday they gathered in the library where I had maps and supplies spread out on tables. I included some sample questions to get the group started and we were off!   It turns out that we were connected with Mr. Tellgren’s 3rd grade class in Iowa. They are AWESOME at mystery Skype and have played the game over 20 times!  I think they had our state figured out within 5 questions. It took us a little longer, but we figured it out soon enough. Knowing which question to ask is not easy and takes a lot of geographical thinking.  IMG_1588_edited



This group had such a great time that they asked to do it again. I put a request on Twitter with the hashtag #mysteryskype.


Within a day, we were set up for our session #2. This time, I knew it would be a bit more challenging. I set out maps of the US, but also the world, the provinces of Canada and the states in Mexico. A different group came to recess and were eager to begin. We had a few technical glitches with the internet, but we worked through them and kept trying. Eventually we had to stop video calling, and we could only audio call. However, both groups figured out the location of each other’s classroom! Here are a few scenes from our visit with Mr.Moya’s class in Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico! This city is near El Paso, Texas.


 “Can we do this again next week Mrs. Hembree?” It looks like we will be trying this again soon. I’m crossing my fingers that we will be able to connect with one of our partner schools in our Books to Africa program. That would be amazing!


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Dino Skype!

Who wants to be a paleontologist? 


Nearly every hand was raised after our first graders visited with paleontologists Matt, Adam, and Jennifer from Stony Brook University in New York. Our first graders have been researching dinosaur facts, creating art, learning science, singing sings, reading books, and writing stories in Dinosaur Land to get ready for the annual Dinosaur Show. 

dino collage

Our music teacher, Ms. Gibitz knows paleontologist Matt from when she grew up in Ohio. When he offered to do a Skype Dino visit, we were thrilled! When you bring Skype in the Classroom, you don’t have to go anywhere outside of the school! You can stay where you are, and have people visit you, virtually! It’s super fun, easy and free!


The students at Stony Brook University prepared a video for us to view first. 


Then our first grade dinosaur experts also prepared some questions as well, such as “What was the first fossil you found?” and “What’s your favorite dinosaur?”  During our virtual visit, they answered these questions and talked about some of the dinosaur bones they have in their laboratory. Some of them are 60 million years old! 




We ended our visit with the “Fossil Rock” song about the dinosaurs! Mrs. Daly thinks a lot of our students have sung that song through the years. Thank you Ms. Gibitz for leading the song and arranging for this visit. It’s really great to collaborate with music, library, PE and the first grade teachers. Thank you Matt, Adam, and Jennifer for sharing your expertise with our students. I wonder how many of them will now want to be a scientist when they grow up just like you. If you would like to learn more about fossils, you can visit their Past Time website where they share their knowledge in podcasts. They will also Skype or GChat live with educators and their students. 

If you want to know the answer to the questions above, you will need to ask one of our students or leave a comment! 

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Our First Mystery Skype


On Friday, Mrs. Raffel’s library class Mystery Skyped with a class in Nebraska!

Mystery Skyping is when one class skypes another class and you have to figure out what state they are skyping from.

The last time Mrs. Raffel’s class came to library, they researched the answers to ten questions about Washington.

They would be sharing this information with the other class during the skype session.

3 Interesting Facts

Time Zone

Famous People

Climate of the state

Famous Landmarks

Vacation Places

Bordering States

Capital city


Our students took turns sharing facts about each others’ states. As the students learned a new piece of information, they used their almanacs, USA map and time zone map to narrow down the choices.

 After all the facts were shared, the students had one chance to guess which state the other class was from.

Our students said, "Nebraska!"

We all learned new information about Nebraska and Mrs. Geldes’ class. You can visit her blog here. For example, there is a large Air Force base in Nebraska. We also found out that the name Nebraska, means “flat water” in the Oto Indian language. Former President Gerald Ford was born in Nebraska. It’s very cold there in the winter and very hot in the summer.

EnchantedLearning map of Nebraska.

Nebraska is is divided by two time zones: Mountain Time Zone and Central Time Zone. Mrs. Geldes’ class was in the Central Time zone, which meant they were two hours ahead of Pacific Time. The fact that confused us the most was that Nebraska has the largest indoor rainforest. Since Washington has a large temperate rainforest on the Olympic Pennisula, it was curious to us that they had an indoor rain forest!

After we each guessed correctly, we spent a couple minutes sharing answers to other questions. We all found it funny when we found out their school was in Bellevue, Nebraska when our town borders Bellevue, Washington!


Following our Skyping session, we spent a few minutes reflecting on the experience. All agreed that it was a really fun way to learn about geography.

“It was a cool experience to find out where someone lived with the rest of the class.” ~ Kobe

“I like seeing another class from another state. It kind of feels fun talking to a class that about 750 miles away from you.! ~ Georgia

“It was fun to learn about their mystery state and about their school.” ~Kaylee

“I knew what state it was on the famous people question!” ~Natalie

“It was kind of scary because we had no clue who you guys were!”  ~Haley, Erika & Eduardo

“I thought it was amazing! I never ever met some people in another state. I wish we can do another Mystery Skype!” ~ Erika

“It was awesome! We thought it was nice talking a 3-state away classroom and searching through the almanac.” ~Niku & Jack

“It was weird talking to a different class. It was really fun as well! “ ~Irislyn & Taylor

“It was fun learning new places and facts in Nebraska. The fun part was being able to talk with another school!” ~Mark

“It was nice to Mystery Skype!” ~ Eric


What did you learn about Nebraska?

Should we try Mystery Skyping again?

Have you ever skyped with another classroom?


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