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'Sketch And Release' Adds Under-The-Sea Fun At Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium

Maeve Nelson, 4, of Norwalk, colors in a fish under the watchful eye of her grandparents, Dan and Sheila Kuhn of Danbury, at the interactive board at Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
A shark with a written message on his side glides by on the interactive board at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. Oct. 2016. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
The interactive board at the Maritime Aquarium in South Norwalk shows the sea creatures decorated and named by aquarium visitors. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
This screen shows a visitor's creation - a colorful flounder - that was soon swimming with other fish on the interactive board at Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Stashek, 3, of Stratford, colors in a sea turtle for the interactive board at Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller

NORWALK, Conn. — Young and young-at-heart visitors to the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk are unleashing their creativity on a 9-by-32-foot video wall that shows 50 sea creatures swimming around an animated 3D shipwreck.

Kiosks in front of the new Sketch and Release interactive board allow users to choose a digital animal — either a seal, shark, squid, bass, flounder or sea turtle — and color it as they like. Once they're done coloring, they can name their creature and send it off to swim with the rest of the animals gliding past the wreck of the "Long Island Lucy."

They also can send themselves an email of their creation from the kiosk.

The 32 55-inch monitors that make up the largest video wall in New England have 4k high-definition resolution. The video wall in Newman's Own Hall, near the harbor seals, has acquired some devoted fans.

Dan and Sheila Kuhn of Danbury characterized their granddaughter, 4-year-old Maeve Nelson of Norwalk, as a frequent visitor. Maeve herself showed no hesitation during a recent visit to the aquarium as she walked up to the kiosk and began coloring and naming animals.

"Oh, she just loves it," Sheila Kuhn said. Now retired from teaching in White Plains, Kuhn mentioned she often brought her classes to the aquarium on field trips. She and her husband now visit the aquarium regularly with their granddaughter.

"This is the first stop every time we visit the aquarium," Dan Kuhn said of the interactive board. "And we usually visit it again on the way out."

At another kiosk, Stashek, 3, of Stratford, quickly colored a flounder before moving on to a sea turtle. His mother, Aga, said her son loves visiting the aquarium and nearby Stepping Stones Museum for Children.

He was very intent on his coloring. "He could spend an endless amount of time here," his mother said. "It's a wonderful place for children."

The Sketch and Release interactive operates during normal aquarium hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It is free with admission to the aquarium.

The video wall can also be used to display slide shows during wedding receptions and PowerPoint presentations during corporate meetings, when the facility is rented for events.

Software for the video wall was developed by the Richard Lewis Media Group of Watertown, Mass. Hardware was made by Everett Hall Associates of Stamford.

For more information about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, programs and IMAX movies, click here .

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