December 10, 2007 - Baltimore, MD - The National Aquarium in Baltimore has received a $464,381 grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, the largest education program award in the Aquarium's 26 years of providing educational programming on-site and in Maryland schools. The grant will allow the Aquarium to continue offering its AquaPartners program to more than 1,500 4th and 5th grade Baltimore City school students and their teachers.
Aquarium and Baltimore City School officials also announced the eleven Baltimore City elementary schools that have been accepted to participate in the program. The schools include:
- Cecil Elementary School
- Fort Worthington Elementary School
- Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School
- Holabird Academy
- John Ruhrah Elementary School
- Johnston Square Elementary School
- Lakeland Elementary/Middle School
- Medfield Heights Elementary School
- Mount Washington Elementary School
- Sinclair Lane Elementary School
- Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle School
AquaPartners works in partnership with Baltimore City Schools to offer an interdisciplinary program for 4th and 5th grade students and teachers. The program integrates biological, marine and environmental science, both in and out of the classroom, to raise students' interest in these areas and encourage stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, considered one of the region's most valued environmental sites. The eleven participating schools will begin the program in early 2008.
Through AquaPartners, students and teachers participate in hands-on science programs taught at their school by Aquarium educators. Students start the program in the 4th grade and continue into their 5th grade year. Each year includes a weeklong Summer Institute for teachers to help them gain the most benefit from the program for their students, fall auditorium programs and winter classroom hands-on science experiment programs at the schools, field trips to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and a field experience to the Bay in the spring. After two years in AquaPartners students will have completed eight specific "real world" activities requiring them to utilize their classroom experience to conduct scientific investigations on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
"The kind of generosity we've seen from the Toyota USA Foundation is critical to helping us reach students with up-close and educational experiences that we hope inspire them to learn more about our environment," said Joe Harber, the Aquarium's director of education programs. "We are grateful for their commitment to educational programs, and look forward to promoting our local school outreach programs."
"The Toyota USA Foundation is proud to support worthwhile programs that share our beliefs in the value of education and helping our environment," said Kevin Butt, chief environmental officer of Toyota's North American manufacturing operations. "Programs like AquaPartners are vital in raising students' interest in environmental education, while fostering the next generation of conservation leaders. AquaPartners has already proven successful in reaching students and teachers from diverse communities and we're thrilled to help expand it to another 1,500 students and teachers."
The Aquarium has a long partnership with the Baltimore City Public School System; even before the Aquarium opened its doors in 1981, Aquarium educators were conducting outreach programs to teachers and students in the City. This collaboration helps schools meet the Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement mandate to provide a "meaningful Bay experience" for every student in the watershed before graduation from high school.
The Toyota USA Foundation is a $42 million charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on mathematics and science. For more information about the Toyota USA Foundation, visit www.toyota.com/foundation.
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