Thanks to the generosity of donors, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is offering 600 free virtual programs to local schools in need this year.
In response to the K-12 loss of learning created by recent school closures, Birch Aquarium’s Education Team adapted their Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned Discovery Lab programs into new 30-and 45-minute virtual opportunities for Pre-K through grade 12 students. These Virtual School Group Programs are led by aquarium instructors and are designed to be exploratory and engaging, as they encourage students to ask questions and virtually interact with ocean creatures.
Donors include Price Philanthropies, The Pincus Family Foundation and the Illumina Corporate Foundation.
“Whether schools are using remote learning, in-person or a hybrid model, Birch Aquarium’s virtual group programs are a great opportunity to bring quality educational experiences to all students,” says Director of Education Megan Malaska Medley. “We believe that all students should have equitable access to STEM learning opportunities, and we are so thankful to have financial aid available to ensure that every student is able to connect to the wonders of the ocean, even during this significant learning shift.”
Scholarships for free virtual programs are available for southern California schools in need through an online application. Title 1 schools located in City Heights and surrounding areas of San Diego County are also eligible for funding through the Price Philanthropies Ocean Science Education Fund, an endowment established in 2015 to increase access to hands-on ocean science education for Title 1 schools.
“With the support of these scholarships, over 12,000 students and their teachers will be able to receive free virtual programming this academic year. In addition, virtual programs are an exciting way for students to not only get excited about ocean animals and conservation but also provides an opportunity for students to see themselves in STEM learning,” Medley says.
“We are excited to join like-minded funders and help build access to this unique and timely learning environment,” said Danielle Scott, Executive Director of Pincus Family Foundation. “We believe that this will afford children from Title 1 schools and underserved communities the opportunity to use their talents and gifts to their full potential.”
“Illumina is thrilled to share our excitement about genomics through this unique virtual learning to keep STEM opportunities available during this challenging time,” said Jacquie Ross, Vice President of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Illumina. “Illumina is committed to equitable access to STEM education for all with the goal of empowering students to see themselves as future scientists and trailblazers.”
Though scholarships are only for southern California schools in need, Birch Aquarium’s Virtual Youth and School Group Programs are available to schools all over the country, as well as other groups such as homeschool groups, after school programs and scout troops for a fee.
Registration is now open for Virtual School Group Programs for the 2020/2021 school year. More information on scholarships, as well as the scholarship application and instructions for booking programs can be found online here. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 858-534-7336.Scholarships are also available for Birch Aquarium’s Virtual After School Series for individual students. The 6-week multi series is geared for kindergarten through grade 5 students and aims to provide those caring for kids at home with fun and educational experiences to bridge the gap between school and dinner time. Topics and themes will switch seasonally and build upon kids’ curiosity, allowing them to join others in their age group to explore ocean science in novel ways. Registration is currently open for the Winter session series which kicks off January 25. In addition, the spring session series begins April 12 and registration will open in February