Info/Photo provided by Oregon Coast Aquarium
Newport, Oregon— A new season of outreach is underway as Oregon Coast Aquarium educators travel all over Oregon in their colorful education van, bringing marine science to grade schools throughout the region.
Last week, the Aquarium outreach team took their program to Toledo Elementary School, where enthusiastic students learned to do the “Whale Wiggle” and saw how whales use their baleen to feed, similar to how we might “squish water through our teeth.” “We love the Aquarium,” said Bob Shindelman, Principal of Toledo Elementary School. “Our students ask lots of questions and answer lots of questions. They really know a lot about the marine environment here.” Shindelman said classes from the School visit the Aquarium often to see what’s new.
Because there are many places where students aren’t close to the ocean to be able to experience it, the Aquarium Education Department “takes the shore to their door.” Each school year, the Aquarium’s outreach program goes on the road to reach those students in an effort to foster awareness of the ocean. “Perhaps I’m a little biased being from Eastern Oregon, but I really want to get more schools from the east side of the state involved,” said Jenni Remillard, Aquarium Outreach Coordinator. “These are kids who are much less likely to be able to visit the Aquarium, and it is great to be able to reach them.” Remillard said there are still a few openings for schools in Eastern Oregon.
The assemblies are age-appropriate with “Flippers, Fur and Fun,” “Shark Shenanigans,” “Tales of Whales” and “No Bones About ‘Em” for kindergarten through second grade and “Dressed for Success,” “Sense-ational Sharks,” “What About Whales?” and “From Tubefeet to Tentacles” for third through fifth grade students.
This outreach effort enables the Aquarium to extend its educational services to schoolchildren in rural and other underserved communities, who might not otherwise be able to travel to the coast to visit the Aquarium. In addition to being used for outreach to schools and for offsite teacher workshops, the van is also employed to transport youth volunteers on field excursions and service projects.
The is painted with a mural of marine life found at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Upcoming outreach destinations include eighteen weeks in counties throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington.
The van is made possible by grants from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, Trust Management Services, LLC and the Jackson Foundation.