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$224,879 state grant supports expanded summer-school program for Norwalk K-8 students with The Maritime Aquarium

NORWALK, CT  (July 12, 2022)  –  Thanks to a $224,879 state grant, more than 1,200 Norwalk students are engaging with marine animals and exploring the aquatic world this month as the Norwalk Public Schools expands its summer-school partnership with The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. 

The grant – called an Innovation grant from the state Department of Education’s 2022 Summer Enrichment Grant program – covers most of the Aquarium’s costs for its role in the five-week summer-school collaboration, which started in 2021 for 771 students in Grades K-3 but now expands to 1,200 students in K-8 this year. 

Tom Naiman, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Education, said the Aquarium welcomes this latest opportunity to partner with the NPS and to help provide a valuable and memorable experience to the students who qualify for summer school. 

“Presenting our marine-science programs to 1,200 students this month is one of the most ambitious educational efforts in the Aquarium’s 34 years,” Naiman said. “We’re excited to welcome the students, who have faced so many personal and academic challenges during the past two years. We’re honored that the Norwalk Public Schools has partnered with the Aquarium on this critically important program, and we thank the state Department of Education for understanding the important need and also the unique opportunities that the Aquarium’s educational resources present to the Norwalk students.” 

Norwalk Superintendent Dr. Alexandra Estrella said, “In collaboration with The Maritime Aquarium, we put a team together to reimagine summer learning for our scholars. Thanks to our partnership and the Department of Education’s support, scholars are able to apply real world problems, engage in critical and analytical thinking, and connect experiences to what they are learning in the classroom. It allows our scholars to bridge their daily learning to practice.” 

There’s no cost to attend the summer school, which is open only to students who are academically eligible. It started July 5 and runs through Aug. 5, with programs at Brookside Elementary, Kendall College & Career Academy, Marvin Elementary, Naramake Elementary, Ponus Ridge STEAM Academy, Rowayton Elementary and Tracey Magnet School. 

Over the course of the five weeks, elementary-grade students will visit The Maritime Aquarium for curriculum-aligned programs and to tour exhibits. Animal-focused programs are being led by Aquarium educators and serve as content that motivates daily lessons in math, literacy and arts led by NPS teachers back in the classrooms. Also at the schools, readings and math activities center around different species – sharks, jellies, sea turtles and horseshoe crabs. 

In their classrooms and during cruises aboard the Aquarium’s research vessel out on Long Island Sound, middle-school students are learning how climate change and extreme weather impact Norwalk’s coastline. They’ll create coastal-resilience maps of Norwalk Harbor and design ways to improve the city’s ability to withstand strong storms and tidal flooding.  

Students in all grades will demonstrate what they learned during an open house for parents in August. 

Beyond the Aquarium’s involvement, the Norwalk Public Library is providing reading and writing enrichment for students. Librarians curate collections of books about each grade level’s animal of focus, and deliver the books to the schools in a mobile library vehicle. 

The $224,879 Innovation grant to The Maritime Aquarium was one of the largest of the 200 awarded by the state Department of Education. Grants are awarded to organizations with a clear record of providing excellent summer learning opportunities for students, particularly children from traditionally underserved communities. 

Learn more about exhibits and programs during the Aquarium’s “Summer of Wonders,” and reserve your tickets, at 

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Posted by Brianne Faust at 12:30 PM
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Mission: The Maritime Aquarium inspires people of all ages to appreciate and protect the Long Island Sound ecosystem and the global environment through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education.

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