August 9, 2022
When Mystic Aquarium first applied for an Ocean Exploration Education Mini-Grant from NOAA Ocean Exploration and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, they intended to use the funds to create an Ocean Exploration Adventure for 200 eighth grade students and their five teachers from underserved communities in Cranston, Rhode Island. Their project included professional development training for teachers, new ocean exploration curriculum and materials, and field trips designed to increase students’ interest in and understanding of ocean exploration and careers in the field. The Cranston Public School District, seeing the value in the program, contributed additional funding to include all eighth grade students from Park View and Bain middle schools, ultimately providing the experience to 520 students and 25 educators.
The comprehensive Ocean Exploration Adventure program invited teachers to attend a professional development workshop at Mystic Aquarium, where they received training on the aquarium’s ocean exploration curriculum along with supply kits to implement hands-on lessons in their classrooms. Activities focused on topics such as the history of ocean exploration, ocean exploration tools, autonomous underwater vehicles, and ocean exploration careers.
To further generate students’ interest in ocean exploration and careers within the field, Kimberly Galvez, Ph.D., a NOAA Ocean Exploration expedition coordinator, visited the students to discuss her work as an early career professional in the field of ocean exploration and her career path as a first generation American.
Students also toured the University of Rhode Island’s Inner Space Center, where they saw many of the ocean exploration tools and technologies referenced in their curriculum, and participated in a field study at the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge along Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, where they learned about water quality and explored local aquatic life. They concluded their program with a visit to the Mystic Aquarium and its new exhibit on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which includes a video that was created in partnership with NOAA Ocean Exploration and features Kimberly Galvez.
NOAA Ocean Exploration and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation launched the Ocean Exploration Education Mini-Grants Project in 2021 to engage and inspire the next generation of ocean explorers by advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts related to ocean literacy, stewardship, and workforce development. Mystic Aquarium is one of seven award recipients that received up to $25,000 to support underserved and/or underrepresented communities in engaging in ocean exploration career pathways and to build capacity for science, technology, engineering, art, and math educators to bring ocean science and exploration alive in the classroom and beyond.
Published August 9, 2022