It’s back to school season ‒ not just for schools in the Lower Mainland, but also for the Vancouver Aquarium. Today, registration opens for the Aquarium’s 2012-2013 school programs.

Our award-winning school programs are a big hit with teachers and students alike, which is why the Vancouver Aquarium doubled its capacity for this year’s programs.

Programs ranging from kindergarten through Grade 12 will be a mix of exciting new learning opportunities and long time favourites. There is often a huge waitlist for groups to get in, so register your classes early.

Programs such as Staying Alive have been inspiring students for years, with their extraordinary hands-on opportunities to explore the underwater world. Penguins, one of our new programs, will highlight our most recent inhabitants, the endangered African penguins. Using stories and props, this dynamic program turns conservation education into action for change.

The education department is also developing some new exciting partnerships with secondary-level students.  For example, a social justice Grade 12 class from Argyle Secondary will be developing content and helping to instruct the Carbon Games program.  Additionally, a new roster of work experience students will have the opportunity to be the first to take advantage of animal care training and mentorship from Aquarium staff.

Like every year, the Aquarium’s renowned wet lab, an interactive learning classroom with live intertidal animals, will be the centerpiece of many of our school programs.

The wet lab, our interactive learning classroom, is the centerpiece of many of our school programs. Photo credit: John Healey.

Students can get their hands wet by touching sea snails and hermit crabs, or by having the animals, like sea anemones, touching the students with their sticky tentacles.

For many of the younger students, the programs elicit a “wow factor,” as they explore that magical space which is the ocean and get up close with all the incredible animals.

While the Aquarium’s school programs coordinator Wade Janzen cherishes the exploratory spirit and curiosity of young children, he believes that the Aquarium’s success in creating a legacy of sustainable behavior becomes most apparent when working with older students.

“High school students want to get involved and want to learn about conservation and what that means to them in their lives,” says Janzen. “Our instructors meet students … then the students become the instructor by teaching what they learned to other generations.”

A generational learning experience is what characterizes the Aquarium’s new Counting on Howe Sound program. The two-day workshop is free of charge for high school students and will focus on the local ecology of the Howe Sound area. After completion, participants will “spread the word” by sharing their findings to younger students.

If you are a teacher or school eager to educate your students about environmental conservation issues and inspire and engage their minds at the same time, sign up for one of our programs.

Whether your students dream of becoming marine biologists, deep sea scientists or simply love animals, there’s a school program waiting to satisfy their curiosity.


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