Shaping new generations of science-literate citizens

Society’s success in solving the environmental challenges of the 21st century will depend on our ability to give young people the knowledge, skills and motivation to create effective solutions for the future. At the core of this challenge is a critical need: solving a crisis in science and environmental education. At school, teachers struggle to meet the needs of students from diverse cultures, at a time when there’s a declining focus on science learning. At home, kids spend less time outdoors in nature, meaning fewer opportunities  to connect with the wild world in ways that nurture a caring attitude toward the environment.

The Aquarium plays a powerful role  in meeting the needs that schools can’t provide – and we’re working to have a larger, more sustained impact through science-based programs tailored to serve kids from preschool through high school, and their teachers.  Here’s a deeper dive into some of the ways we’re making a difference, from staff educator Claudia Pineda Tibbs.

Connecting with marine life at the Touch Pools is a field trip highlight or many students.

When you walk through the doors of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you can’t help but notice the smiles on the faces of students as they rush from one exhibit to the next. The sea spray isn’t the only thing in the air. As you navigate the galleries, you can feel the buzz of excitement as elementary school students squeal in delight after touching obscure invertebrates like the gumboot chiton.

Since 1984, the Aquarium has hosted more than 2.3 million schoolchildren – free of charge – through our School Field Trip Programs, and we’re committed to facilitating a range of learning experiences so students can discover the wonders of Monterey Bay as they make sense of their role in the natural world.

Within and beyond our walls, our dedicated staff educators work to expose middle and high school students to marine-related careers, introduce ocean-friendly choices into their lives, and help them conduct community-based conservation projects. Continue reading Shaping new generations of science-literate citizens

Going to school on plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is everywhere—especially stuff like coffee cup lids and plastic bags, which are used just once before they’re thrown away. You’ve probably come across plastic trash while walking your dog or on your way to the coffee shop. For teachers and students, encounters with plastic trash often happen in the steps between classrooms.

Students ask questions during a talk on the importance of recycling at the Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit.

Working with Monterey Bay Aquarium, they’re doing something about it. For the last five years, teachers and students enrolled in the Aquarium’s Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit have been on a mission: to be a part of the plastic pollution solution.

The Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit began in 2012, after teachers approached the Aquarium’s Education Department staff, eager to learn more about the conservation issues surrounding single-use plastic. They kept finding plastic litter on and around their school campuses—but instead of seeing an insurmountable problem, they saw a teaching opportunity.

Continue reading Going to school on plastic pollution