The Seattle Aquarium is a magical place for kids and adults alike. Looking face to face with a shark or watching otters splash and play is a learning experience in and of itself. However, the aquarium offers many opportunities for teachers to connect lessons with real aquatic life.
The aquarium’s mission is “inspiring conservation of our marine environment.” There are many lessons that can be learned about conservation, not polluting and how our environment is like a web of life. Everything is interconnected.
The Seattle Aquarium, located on Pier59, opened in 1977. At that point it was owned by the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation. Now the non-profit Seattle Aquarium Society manages it. They have already expanded adding 18,000 square feet of space that includes a 120,000-gallon exhibit among other attractions.
Since opening, over 22 million people have visited the aquarium. They have taught marine conservation to over 1.6 million school children, and they are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Current large exhibits include Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Birds & Shores, the Underwater Dome and Marine Mammals. The aquarium’s goal is to double in size in less than 20 years.
The aquarium makes it easy to plan a trip for school kids. They offer hands-on, interactive classes that align with the Washington State Science Standards and are available and scaled to kids from pre-K all the way through high school. They offer field-trips to the water’s edge or classes taught at the aquarium.
Teachers, take note. They have tons of materials for you to use, pre-made lesson plans for each grade level and even professional development opportunities for clock hours.
Their professional development works through a partnership with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). They work with a program called “Volume 2 of the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection: How Do We Explore?” series.
According to the aquarium, “This workshop series aims to create a network of Ocean Exploration Teacher Leaders who will bring the excitement of ocean exploration into their classrooms through cross-curricular, standards-based and inquiry-based lessons.”
They offer camp and family programs as well.