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Students Take Deep Dive Into Summer Science At Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium

Students at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk make an underwater listening device Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
Students took a deep dive into science at camp held at Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium this week. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

NORWALK, Conn. — A group of rising eighth- and ninth-graders in Norwalk is spending part of their summer learning lessons about underwater science at a free weeklong camp at the Maritime Aquarium.

“We jam-packed all the fun things we could do into the week," education supervisor Bridget Cervero said from a technology classroom at the aquarium Wednesday.

Students made discoveries through food-web and pollution activities, encountered live animals during a beach exploration and took a study cruise aboard the aquarium’s research vessel.

The campers also had the opportunity interact with diverse species, including bearded dragons — a type of lizard. And, later this week, they will help make enrichments for the otters. “It’s kind of like dog toys, but for the otters,” Cervero said.

She hopes the campers take away an appreciation for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from their time at camp.

"I want kids to realize that STEM is involved in everything that they're going to do in life in some form ... whether its art, straight engineering, becoming a marine biologist or computer tech — there's generally some sort of STEM in that," she said.

The camp is free for the teens, who were selected for two sessions — one of which ends Friday.

On Wednesday, Mayor Harry Rilling visited the camp and addressed the students, who were tinkering with their hydrophones— underwater listening devices. “You probably are going to learn a lot more than you ever imagined,” Rilling told the students.

Rilling told Daily Voice that he hopes the camp helps students undercover the “marvels and mysteries” of life under the surface of Long Island Sound and opens “a world of imagination."

Rilling said he hopes the program inspires students to learn more about the environment.

“It may very well ignite in one or two or all of them this passion of learning more about the sound, learning more about the oceans and rivers and lakes of our nation and our world,” Rilling said.

Funding came from money raised through the Norwalk Energy Efficiency Challenge, which began in 2014 by Mayor Harry Rilling’s Energy and Environment Task Force. (A portion of the aquarium program was paid for by a grant received from First County Bank.)

The energy challenge encourages residents to participate in Home Energy Solutions, an Energize Connecticut program of Eversource. Norwalk’s Home Energy Solutions partners donate $75 to the the challenge for every home that certified and insured contractors evaluate household energy use. (Homeowners pay a $99 co-pay for the program, which may be waived for income-eligible residents.)

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