NORWALK, Conn. -- A group of 25 Norwalk students spent a week exploring the Maritime Aquarium through a camp program funded by money raised by the Mayor's Energy and Environment Task Force.
The students,who will be entering 8th and 9th grade this fall, built an underwater listening device, probed Long Island Sound for underwater life, and explored how different organisms rely on each other in an ecosystem during the free week-long camp program. Students applied for the Mayor's Student Engineering and Science program through their middle schools, and were chosen based on need, academic standing, and interest in engineering and marine sciences.
The program was provided by $20,000 raised by the Norwalk Energy Challege launched last year by the Energy and Environment Task Force. Through the past year, the task force has encouraged Norwalk residents to sign up for $99 home energy audits that evaluate home energy use and identify ways to make them more energy efficient. For every home audit conducted, Norwalk's Home Energy Solutions donated $75 to the task force.
The kids in the program spent Thursday examining organisms such as oysters and brine shrimp under microscopes. They were visited by Mayor Harry Rilling and Task Force Chairman John Kydes.
"I think this is great. The kids are having fun and learning at the same time. To see all the hard work come to fruition and the smile on the kids' faces, it's a great feeling," said Kydes. He said that many people continue to sign up for home energy audits, and hopes that the task force can continue to provide similar programs to students in the future.
Aquarium Education Director Tom Naiman said that the kids were excited by the material they learned in the program.
“We’ve never seen our staff rave about a group of kids the way they did this year. Their level of engagement and motivation has really shown this week,” he said.
Naiman said that the aquarium hoped to identify students who would want to take part in the after-school program TeMPEST (Teen Maritime Program Emphasizing Science and Technology). The program for high school students focuses on STEM literacy and college preparation, with students completing projects focusing on marine life, conservation and technology.
“This sets the scene for much more extensive opportunity for kids to focus on science and technology. Hopefully this whets their appetites for a larger experience and helps us identify kids who would really thrive in the program,” Naiman said.
Another 25 Norwalk kids will participate in the program from Aug. 10-14.
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