11/19/2010 | MACKENZIE WHALEN
field trip destination
“I am particularly proud of the educational aspect of the Georgia Aquarium,” aquarium benefactor Bernie Marcus said. “It’s unlike anything anyone has ever done before. Children and teachers alike are excited and inspired by what they see and do here.”
While exploring the Learning Loop, students become engaged through interactive exhibits which expand their understanding of the importance of aquatic ecosystems and conservation of our oceans and rivers. Teachers will also immerse themselves in learning, while acquiring valuable knowledge through hands-on learning experiences. This unique learning space is made possible by the generosity of a variety of donors who support our educational initiatives.
Students who visit the aquarium on field trips are able to bridge the gap from experiencing nature on the screen to getting up-close and personal with marine species, in hopes to build environmentally literate citizens. Aquariums, zoos and nature centers fill this need by creating environments where students immerse themselves in nature and meet animals they have never seen or ever will. Teachers are also able to convey complex concepts and apply their student’s knowledge in ways not possible in a classroom or school setting.
Annually in the U.S., 30 million students and 1.2 million teachers participate in environmental education programs like those offered by the Georgia Aquarium and local zoo partner, Zoo Atlanta. It is the aquarium’s goal to provide unique opportunities that cannot be replicated in the classroom and allow students to investigate and learn about real world issues. At the aquarium, students and adults are able to see, touch and make personal connections that extend to the outdoors. And once that connection is made, they are empowered to take action and protect what they now know and care about. That action can take many forms, from picking up trash to becoming a state legislator.
The aquarium also offers exciting daily and weekly camps throughout the year. For example, Camp H2O, an educational camp held during spring break and throughout the summer and winter breaks. These week-long day camps are designed for children between the ages of five and 14. These programs provide campers with unique experiences at the aquarium which includes animal encounters, behind-the-scene tours, opportunities to meet the husbandry and animal training teams and much more.
The Georgia Aquarium also offers a sponsored education admission (SEA) program which allows students, regardless of their economic status, to have an opportunity to participate in these educational experiences. Since the aquarium opened, nearly 400,000 students have experienced the educational programs offered at the aquarium.
The aquarium’s professional development opportunities are designed for teachers to explore a wide range of topics related to the unique aquatic ecosystems found around the world. Teachers who visit the Learning Loop gain a deeper understanding of these complex ecosystems as well as strategies for integrating this content into their classroom curriculum.
Along with the behind-the-scene tours and the exploration through the learning loop, everyone will get a chance to see the action happen live in five exhibits. Including, the Georgia Explorer, River Scout, Coldwater Quest, Tropical Diver and Ocean Voyager. Ocean Voyager is home to four whale sharks with a habitat comparing to the size of a football field. Georgia Aquarium has the largest collection of aquatic animals and is growing, with a $110 million dollar dolphin expansion opening in 2011.