PINE KNOLL SHORES, Carteret County — The deadline for schools to participate in a special program through local aquariums is approaching.
"Aquarium Scholars" gives teachers and students in North Carolina's Title I schools an opportunity to learn about marine life. But so far, aquariums like the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores are not seeing teachers take advantage of the opportunity.
"Over the last 6-8 years, we've noticed a decrease in our school field trip attendance," said Windy Arey-Kent, Education Curator for the aquarium. "We do believe budget cuts at schools and other factors may be impacting the availability for schools to come to the aquarium."
The educational outreach opportunity connects classrooms with undersea worlds, animals and ocean science. Through Sept. 15, teachers can apply for mini-grants to fund programming such as in-classroom animal encounters, class trips to North Carolina Aquariums or distance learning sessions that bring the North Carolina coast right to their classrooms.
The program seeks to provide under-served students in North Carolina Title I schools access to ocean science, technology, engineering and math.
"Aquarium Scholars is a program that we are offering scholarships for Title 1 schools throughout the state of North Carolina to receive funding to get a field trip, an outreach program which is where we bring live animals to your school or assistance-learning program through Skype in the classroom," Arey-Kent said.
The launch of an abbreviated Aquarium Scholars cycle from January to April 2018 proved successful, providing education programming and aquarium experiences for more than 6,300 students. The 2018-19 program cycle will span the entire year and is expected to serve three times the number of students between January and April.
"We are happy to have successfully launched the Aquarium Scholars program last year, awarding over $65,000 to Title I schools," said David Griffin, Director of the Aquariums Division of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. "We look forward to offering even more grants to Title I schools for the coming school year, for aquarium and pier field trips and outreach programs."
The application deadline is Sept. 15.