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Norwalk Students Explore Under The Sea At Maritime Aquarium

Amahd Young and Iris Velez with the Glaciology diorama that they created as part of the Dead Reckoners after-school program at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Keily Caldron and Steffany Padilla with their project on marine conservation and coral reefs. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Ryan Dudec and Juan Rosales studied Ichthyology: Cartilaginous Fish during the Dead Reckoners program at the Maritime Aquarium. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk students got a chance to explore the Maritime Aquarium and learn more about science careers this year through the Dead Reckoners after-school program.

The program consisted of 40 students from Norwalk High School and Brien McMahon High School, and lasted throughout the school year. The students met once a week at the aquarium to take part in SAT prep, as well as do science experiments and discuss science-related current events.

The program also included a visit to colleges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a Skype discussion with underwater explorer Fabien Cousteau. The program culminated in a project where students created dioramas depicting marine-science careers and topics such as marine biology, climatology, marine conservation and ichthyology.

Brien McMahon sophomores Amahd Young and Iris Velez were among the students who worked on a diorama depicting the effects of carbon dioxide on glaciers. They said they learned a lot about how scientists research the impact carbon dioxide has on weather and the environment over time.

"I think it was a pretty good program. It teaches you about how science is important to the environment and we got a chance to learn more about what's going on around us," Young said.

Steffany Padilla and Keily Caldron studied the effects of pollution on coral reefs. Their diorama depicted a healthy reef with abundant life, and an unhealthy one that has been ravaged by garbage.

"They're not there to be pretty, they're there to support life and they could be destroyed if we're not careful enough," Caldron said.

They said the program sparked an interest in science in them, and that they also enjoyed the SAT prep and the chance to see behind-the-scenes at the aquarium, as well as the people they met.

"We got a chance to be with people we wouldn't normally talk to at school and make new friends, not just with the students but with the adults as well," Padilla said.

This was the second year of the program. Kerry Johnston, one of the instructors, said it grew from about 10 students last year to 40 this year.

"They were great. They really got into their own research and experiments," she said. "Some of these students wouldn't normally get a chance to look into different science careers, so this was an opportunity to let them know what's out there."

The dioramas will be on display at the aquarium for the public to check out through the summer.

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