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After-School STEM Program At Maritime Aquarium Ranked Among Top In Nation

During an end-of- year ceremony in May, Mary Guerra, Carla Valdez and Juan Rosales – all of Brien McMahon High School – demonstrate a remotely operated vehicle they made as part of the TeMPEST after-school program at The Maritime Aquarium.
During an end-of- year ceremony in May, Mary Guerra, Carla Valdez and Juan Rosales – all of Brien McMahon High School – demonstrate a remotely operated vehicle they made as part of the TeMPEST after-school program at The Maritime Aquarium. Photo Credit: Maritime Aquarium

NORWALK, Conn. – The after-school program of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk that supports STEM learning and college prep for high-school students is being celebrated as one of the top educational efforts of any zoo and aquarium in America.

The Aquarium’s TeMPEST program was honored with a 2016 Education Award by the prestigious Association of Zoos & Aquariums during the AZA’s annual national conference this month in San Diego.

Only three institutions received the honor out of 231 accredited member zoos and aquariums.

“The Maritime Aquarium is thrilled to have created a program that has teens coming back to us year after year to enhance their education in STEM fields and to create a brighter future,” said Tom Naiman, the aquarium’s director of education. “We know that conservation depends on an engaged and knowledgeable citizenry. TeMPEST teens are already engaged and knowledgeable. We are so proud to have played a role in their journey and we are excited to see where it takes them in the future.”

The AZA Education Award recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design, judging programs on their ability to promote conservation knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation, and measure success.

“Outcome-based education is a high priority for AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos, and this award provides well-deserved national recognition for The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s TeMPEST program. By engaging program participants in immersive, hands-on science opportunities, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is helping to build and inspire the next generation of conservationists,” said Keith Winsten, director of the Brevard Zoo and chair of AZA’s Honors and Awards Committee.

TeMPEST stands for Teen Maritime Program Emphasizing Science & Technology. It’s a multi-year after-school STEM experience for high-school students, who come to The Maritime Aquarium one afternoon each week during the school year to engage in project-based STEM-themed projects using the aquarium’s unique resources.

Students who successfully complete two years of TeMPEST can apply for a paid Maritime Aquarium internship during their senior year.

In addition, TeMPEST prepares students for college through question-and-answer sessions, learning about the application process from experts, and overnight trips to visit college campuses.

Participation in TeMPEST is free to students, thanks to private support. It was launched for Norwalk students in 2012-13 with a $26,000 grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, and continued into and through the 2015-16 school year thanks to a $150,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation.

TeMPEST expands this year to be open to high-schoolers from Stamford as well as Norwalk. Sources of funding for the current school year include Fairfield County's Community Foundation, with additional support from the Henry Niles Foundation, Kinder Morgan Foundation and Wells Fargo.

Enrollment in TeMPEST for the 2016-17 school year is open now for freshmen and sophomores. Applications are available at www.maritimeaquarium.org at the link under the “Fun & Learning” tab. Applications, with a letter of recommendation, must be submitted to the Aquarium by Friday, Oct. 7.

For more details, contact Bridget Cervero at bcervero@maritimeaquarium.org or call 203-852- 0700, ext. 2281.

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