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Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium: April 11 Free Teacher Open House

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Educators can enjoy a special free evening with The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk all to themselves on Wed., April 11, as they preview the Aquarium’s educational programs, its “FINtastic RefurbFISHment” and new IMAX® movie.

The teachers’ open house, called “Fish School,” will run from 4 to 8 p.m.  (Registration opens at 3 p.m.) Not only is the event free, but it’s packed with free incentives to help teachers connect their students with the Aquarium’s educational programs. Plus, educators will be treated to two sneak previews – to the new “Shark & Ray Touch Pool” exhibit and the IMAX movie “To the Arctic.”

“‘Fish School’ is a free chance for teachers to learn all the many ways they can use The Maritime Aquarium to their students’ advantage,” said Jamie Alonzo, the Aquarium’s education director. “We have so much to offer educators in bringing to life their lessons in environmental education, animal adaptations, ecosystems and other science curricula – and all of it fulfills Connecticut, New York and New Jersey science standards.”

“Fish School” will include details about financial aid for field trips, including busing. Even if teachers can’t swing a field trip to the Aquarium, Alonzo added, they’ll learn at “Fish School” how Aquarium can come to them through “Traveling Teacher” programs, which send Aquarium educators out to classrooms all across the tri-state area.

The April 11 event offers teachers a sneak preview of The Maritime Aquarium’s new Sharks & Rays gallery, which will open to the public on April 14 with a large “Sharks & Rays Touch Pool.” The new gallery is the second phase of the Aquarium’s “FINtastic RefurbFISHment,” a $4 million transformation that mainly opened in February with an all-new seal show, 21 new exhibits, 27 new species and more than 300 new animals.

“Even teachers who think they know The Maritime Aquarium need to come see us now,” Alonzo said. 

Throughout all the galleries during “Fish School,” Aquarium educators will staff display tables, explaining such topics as: professional development opportunities for teachers; the Aquarium’s successful Whole School Partnership programs; and financial aid to help afford an Aquarium visit. They’ll also demonstrate some of the many educational programs that the Aquarium offers to students, from microscope discoveries to squid dissections.

All teachers who attend will receive a voucher for a free guided tour for their class when they book an Aquarium field trip (a $110 value), as well as four tickets to return “off-duty” with family or friends for an IMAX movie (worth up to $46).  Aquarium programs, memberships and other prizes will be awarded in a raffle. 

At 5 and 7 p.m., school and district administrators are invited to presentations on using the Aquarium to enrich science curricula and meet state science standards.  Each administrator who attends will receive one free Aquarium educational program (also a $110 value) for their school.

The “Fish School” open house also includes free preview screenings of the Aquarium’s newest IMAX film, “To the Arctic,” at 5:30 & 7 p.m.   Premiering on The Maritime Aquarium’s six-story screen (and worldwide) on April 20, “To the Arctic” follows a mother polar bear as she struggles to raise her twin cubs in an environment that is rapidly changing. It’s narrated by Meryl Streep and features music by Paul McCartney. Teachers will see how the film can enhance their lessons in geography, adaptations, biology and climate change.

Free light fare will be served during the evening.

Advance registration is required and IMAX seating is limited.

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