NORWALK, Conn. – The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk has gotten a big financial boost that will allow it to educate the public about climate change and other pressing environmental issues, said local lawmakers.
The $484,955 grant came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to an announcement Thursday by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4).
It will be used to pay for a three-year program that will enable students, teachers and aquarium visitors to identify environmental hazards in their region and the important elements of science underlying those hazards.
With the support of partners, the aquarium will develop materials, teaching strategies and lesson plans.
The program is expected to serve 150 middle and high school teachers and about 1,875 students from 10 Fairfield County towns on or near the Connecticut coast.
In a joint statement, Blumenthal, Murphy, and Himes called the aquarium a state “treasure” and said climate change is “a true threat to our planet and region.”
The program, they added, will give the aquarium the tools to teach thousands of students and visitors about environmental challenges.
The aquarium is visited by about 500,000 people a year, according to its president, Dr. Brian Davis.
Understanding the complexity of environmental issues is “critical,” especially for people who live on the coastline, Davis said.
Residents must have the tools to be “able to engage in civic dialogue that addresses the new challenges -- both physical and financial -- produced by a changing climate,” he added.
Aquarium officials said a related exhibit in its main gallery and a program on its new research vessel, Spirit of the Sound, will engage at least 84,000 more visitors and 15,000 vessel passengers during the grant period.
The aquarium is at 10 North Water St. It can be reached by calling (203) 852-0700.
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