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Smithsonian Marine Station Secures Martin County Community Foundation Grant to Educate Area Students at the St. Lucie County Aquarium

Post Date:11/30/2018 7:58 AM

The Smithsonian’s Marine Ecosystems Exhibit at the St. Lucie County Aquarium was recently awarded a grant from the Martin County Community Foundation to do educational outreach to Title 1 schools in St. Lucie and Martin counties. This new endeavor - Marine Science in the Classroom - is a free in-classroom program for K-8 students led by Smithsonian educators.

Title 1 is a federal program used to financially assist schools with large numbers of underprivileged students to “bridge the gap” between low-income students and other students; the funding assistance given is used for extra instructional support of students beyond the regular classroom and to integrate resources and services. To qualify as a Title 1 school, at least 40 percent of the students in the school must qualify as low-income.

These schools sometimes struggle with providing regular field trip opportunities for their students.  A surprising number of students in these schools, especially in the elementary school age range, are not familiar with marine life beyond what they have seen on television and have never been to the ocean, despite living quite close to it. To help overcome this, Smithsonian marine science educators will use this grant to lead educational programs about the marine environments and animals that make up the Treasure Coast.

The goal of the Marine Science in the Classroom will be to familiarize the students with marine science, our oceans and the Indian River Lagoon through hands-on demonstrations and engaging presentations. Primarily, staff will be focusing on the Indian River Lagoon biodiversity and the Atlantic Ocean, as these two are the “closest to home” for local students.

If any K-8 teachers at Title 1 schools are interested, they are encouraged to contact the Education Team at 772-465-3271 or email

Through its partnership with the St. Lucie County Aquarium, the Smithsonian staff average roughly 5,000 K-12 students participating in a formal education program during field trips per year, and average more than 35,000 visits at the aquarium each year.

The Smithsonian Exhibit is located in the St. Lucie County Aquarium, 420 Seaway Drive, on South Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce.  The Smithsonian Marine Station teamed with St. Lucie County and other community partners to open this unique educational facility in 2001. The Smithsonian Exhibit is an outreach effort of the Smithsonian Marine Station, a branch of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. A fixture in the Fort Pierce community for more than 40 years, the Marine Station is dedicated to understanding the character and diversity of the marine and estuarine habitats of Florida.

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