Sixty-one high-school students from Norwalk and Stamford are better prepared for school – and life outside the classroom – thanks to a bonus after-school program that just completed its fifth year at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
The students came to the Aquarium after school once a week for a program called TeMPEST (Teen Maritime Program Emphasizing Science & Technology). Its goals are to promote the teens’ STEM literacy, to prepare them for college, to make them aware of career opportunities and to develop skills that will help them in any profession.
In September 2016, the program received the top Education Award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the standards for excellence for America’s zoos and aquariums.
Most of the 61 students attend Brien McMahon and Norwalk high schools, with several also participating from Stamford High School.
At a ceremony at the Aquarium on May 24, students were recognized for their accomplishments in the current academic year. They then demonstrated some of their TeMPEST projects for family and friends. These projects include: designing and building Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) that work in water; designing and building small drones while learning how scientists have begun using camera-equipped drones to study animal populations; and researching and planting gardens at the Maritime Odyssey Preschool in South Norwalk.
Other highlights of the year for TeMPEST underclassmen included: hosting guest speakers from the Aquarium and other professions; field trips to other science-based institutions; working with Trout Unlimited to raise trout in the classroom and release them this spring; and college visits in Boston for the high-school juniors.
Ten TeMPEST graduating seniors had paid Aquarium internships this year, working with the Education, Animal Husbandry and Exhibits departments. Their project was to assist with behaviorial studies of the Aquarium’s harbor seals, river otters and meerkats. Their results include new signs at those exhibits, telling Aquarium guests how to share their observations of those creatures’ behaviors.
TeMPEST was made possible this year thanks to the generous support of the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, the Henry Niles Foundation, Kinder Morgan Foundation and Wells Fargo.
For more information about The Maritime Aquarium’s educational programs, for students of all ages, go to www.maritimeaquarium.org or call (203) 852-0700.