MODESTO -- No bones. A giant eye. Eight clingy arms and a spicy tomato sauce. Glick Middle School students got a real taste of marine science Tuesday.
First, they faced the "eew-ick" smell and slime of dissecting squids in science class. Then came the big test: sampling calamari at lunchtime.
Icky, inky squids offer a science bonanza, eighth-grade teacher Christine Harvey said, "and (are) disgusting at the same time so it's perfect for middle school."
Logan Tomlison, an eighth-grader at the east Modesto school, shuddered after touching the dissected cephalopod, then raced to wash her hands in the science room sink, pumping the soap dispenser.
"The eyeballs are, like, staring at you," said Savannah Miller, a seventh-grader.
"It's squishy!" said seventh-grader Alyssa Baker, with her face scrunched into an expression of utter revulsion. At lunch, however, she changed her mind.
"They're not as squishy," Alyssa said after downing samples prepared by school chef Raul Torres.
Torres bought calamari for squid day and prepared two recipes, a Southwest version, with corn and black beans, the other simmered in a spicy marinara sauce. The classic breaded and fried version was too high in fat and carbs for school nutrition guidelines, Torres said. Cafeteria regulars of pizza, burgers, salad and sandwiches filled out the lunch lineup.
"I hope they'll try it and not turn their nose up at it," Torres said before launching into a two-minute whirlwind of preparation. Yes, those squid bits cook quickly. Lines of seventh-grade cafeteria munchers walked by at first lunch period; many did turn up their noses, but most took samples.
For some, including Alyssa, calamari came as a pleasant surprise. Others, among them Alexis Bristow, were not impressed. "It leaves a horrible taste in your mouth," Alexis said, biting into her sandwich.
"I need milk!" gasped friend Solbianca Flores with a dramatic grab for her carton.
Andrés Gallo struggled to swallow a chunk of tentacle on a dare, gagging and heading for a trash can that, thankfully, was not needed. "It was very slimy," he said after manfully mastering the moment.
At other lunch tables, showoffs chewed and swallowed with a gleeful flourish while their friends squirmed.
Squid Day at Glick began with a gift of frozen squids and a boatload of teach-
ing materials from Squids4Kids, a project of researchers at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University and the National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz.
Harvey went to Monterey last weekend to pick up the specimens. Her eighth-
graders joined in the dissection and viewing stations set up for all students at the Empire Union School District campus. "We've got a lot of kids who've never been to the ocean," she said.
Later, she'll use squids to ground classes on physics of motion and fluid dynamics eighth-grade science standards.
Seventh-grade science teacher Roger Lawson said his classes study biology and had just finished studying the human eye. Serendipitously, squids have a single large eye with all the same major properties, and the added attraction of a lens that pops out.
Eight arms, two tentacles
He dissected a squid for each class, explaining its invertebrate structure and functions. Squids, he explained, have a flexible quill, or pen, instead of a backbone. They have a digestive system, color-shifting skin, eight arms and two tentacles.
Despite having three hearts, the cannibalistic species has little romance in its soul. It groups in schools by size to avoid being eaten, Harvey said.
On the Net: Squids4Kids, http://gilly.stanford.edu/outreach.html.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin, www.modbee.com/education.