At the very beginning of a free Title I school program, an elementary student from a small rural school in the upstate was walking into th
e Aquarium with Brian Thill, our Assistant Director of Education.
As the boy reached the entrance to the Aquarium overlooking the Charleston Harbor, he spotted the water below. The wide-eyed student tugged Brian’s uniform and asked, “Hey Mister, is that the ocean?” Brian soon learned that this boy had never seen the ocean or any of the creatures living within it. By the end of his trip, the boy had not only seen these things, but experienced the depths of the ocean
by peering into the Great Ocean Tank, held a sea star in his hand at the Touch Tank Exhibit, and stood nose-to-nose with a young sea turtle in the Coast Gallery. It is experiences like this that drive us to continue providing programs free of charge to those who need it most.
Coming face-to-face with a moray eel or loggerhead sea turtle can be a life-changing experience. The Aquarium’s standards-based classroom programs provide children from kindergarten through high school with intimate encounters that bring textbooks to life.
Through Aquarium programs, students learn about core science concepts such as habitats, adaptation, ecosystems, and human impact. Our high school course, for example, turns a class into a sea turtle rescue team that participates in a “mock” rescue and diagnosis of a stranded sea turtle.
Additionally, we train educators in advance of their visit so they can maximize their time here, seeing and experiencing as much as their trip allows. Once the school groups return home, the learning does not stop. We provide post-visit activities and discussion questions that bring their experience together.
My hope is that students leave the Aquarium with a respect for the natural world that will last a lifetime. Research suggests that students who connect with wild animals will forever have an appreciation for their place in our world.
The Aquarium's Education Programs exist only with the support of our community.
Learn more about the education programs at the Aquarium