Community Outreach

Many children consider the world’s oceans as so distant and awesome, so vast and deep, that they rarely think about their connections to this vital element of nature.

With more than 70% of our planet covered by water, it is important that future generations of decision makers are informed about this fragile resource. The ocean is fascinating, complex and fragile. In order to protect it, we must understand it.

At The Pier Aquarium, we believe that the more children know about the oceans and come to understand them, the more they will care for them and want to work hard to protect them from pollution or destruction.

Children on Board

Being in the hospital doesn’t have to mean that you give up seeing animals and the wonder of the ocean. The Pier Aquarium has its “Children on Board” program – including three aquariums – to help lift the spirits and provide hours of entertainment for patients and their families at All Children’s Hospital.

A member of our Marine Education Staff goes to the hospital on weekdays to feed the fish on the second, third and fourth floors and occasionally brings an abbreviated version of an educational activity that we do on-site at the Aquarium.

Ocean in Motion

“Ocean in Motion” is a traveling touch tank where students learn how to set up a saltwater aquarium from collecting specimens to maintaining the habitat. The exhibit, funded initially by the Sunrise Rotary Club and the St. Petersburg Times, was first on display at Southside Fundamental Middle School in 2005 and resided at Great Explorations, 1825 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg for the summer.
 
Funding for the 2006 school year, provided in part by the Pinellas County Commission through the Pinellas County Cultural Affairs Department's Cultural Development Grant Program, the Sunrise Rotary Club, Beach Drive and Downtown Business Association and Media Sponsor St. Petersburg Times, continued the move of the touch tank aquarium to Tarpon Springs Elementary, Ridgecrest Elementary (in Largo) and Meadowlawn Middle School. "Ocean in Motion" students study water quality, the food web and animal behavior and are introduced to topics such as animal care, marine diversity, adaptations, aquarium management and ecosystem stewardship. Once the marine habitat is established, they can discover the ocean and its creatures without leaving the classroom.

The activity is coordinated by The Pier Aquarium's Education Department and Scientific Staff, which includes students from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College and University of Tampa.

Watershed Watchers

Kids doing research on the watershed is the idea behind this new program housed at Campbell Park Elementary Marine Science Center located at 1051 Seventh Ave. S in St. Petersburg. Their monitoring and research of the watershed and the local weather will be shared with fellow students, city officials, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and users of Pinellas County’s Environmental Distance Learning (EDL) website.

The school integrates an estuarine theme throughout its entire curriculum and is strategically located in an active urban watershed adjacent to Booker Creek, which empties directly into Tampa Bay. The creek has shown years of neglect. The fifth graders and teachers will do their research via a monitoring station with a variety of live sensors extending into Booker Creek and a meteorological tower built behind the school

They’ll study water temperature, water level, pH, dissolved oxygen, wind speed, air temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation and conductivity. They will track small and large scale events in their backyard that affect water quality, ecology and water flow in the creek on the EDL website and participate in “hands-on” experiential programs in the field facilitated by The Pier Aquarium’s Education Director.

And, they will provide the data collected in the form of a report card to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker on a regular basis. They’ll also report the weather information every day at school during the morning television program.

Watershed Watchers is sponsored by grants from the Pinellas County Environmental Fund, the Pinellas County Education Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center. Collaborative agencies include the University of South Florida College of Marine Science Ocean Modeling and Prediction Lab and Pinellas County Environmental Distance Learning.