Many people don’t even know that sand dollars and sea stars are animals! The students have been studying the characteristics of these strange and beautiful aquatic creatures. They also have observed sea cucumbers and sea urchins which makes up the phylum echinodermata. Key characteristics that the students are looking for are podia, spines, food grooves, and petalloids. The students have been comparing and contrasting the way these animals gather energy, reproduce and protect themselves. They observed preserved specimens and also slides of sea stars in the early stage of adult form from the larva.