Chattanooga, Tenn. (May 6, 2021) – For nearly three decades, the Tennessee Aquarium’s world-class living collection has sparked the curiosity and wonder of millions of visiting school children. Even as the global pandemic slowly recedes, however, many schools have placed field trips in indefinite timeout.
At the moment, many students are unable to see the Aquarium firsthand and experience the wonder and connection it offers with the natural world, but nothing says the Aquarium can’t come to them.
For almost a year, the Aquarium has sought a way to leverage its award-winning education department to augment the efforts of classroom-bound teachers. Soon, that effort will bear new fruit with Science Streams, a professionally produced, free series of eight videos crafted to meet national science standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
By offering this polished, engaging content to teachers, Aquarium educators hope to reconnect with and inspire classrooms around the nation that would be thrilled — under different circumstances — to experience, in person, the wonders of life above and below the surface, says Dr. Brooke Gorman, the Aquarium’s director of science education.
“The Tennessee Aquarium is such an amazing and special place that we would love for all teachers and students to have a chance to visit. But we know that is not possible for so many reasons,” Gorman says. “We see this video series as a way to help students experience standards in a different way than they might otherwise. The videos not only help students explore a topic, but we make a point to show the many careers that go into running an Aquarium.”
Science Streams was produced in collaboration with filmmakers at Chattanooga-based Atomic Films and was funded by grants from Tennessee American Water and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
“Tennessee American Water is excited to support the Tennessee Aquarium’s innovative project to provide teachers and students access to videos aligned with science curriculum,” says Tennessee American Water External Affairs Manager Daphne Kirksey. “We hope that the materials spur interest in science-related careers as well as general care for our environment.”
The creation of a new tool to aid teachers will help amplify the reach of an institution that has already enriched the lives of generations of students, says Chelsea Johnson, director of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation.
“The Tennessee Aquarium is a centerpiece of downtown Chattanooga and an invaluable educational resource for this community,” Johnson says. “The BlueCross Foundation knows the past year has been challenging for the Aquarium, as well as area students and teachers. We are excited to support the Science Streams program so local schools have a new way to experience – and learn from – the Aquarium, now and in the future.”
The support of Tennessee American and BlueCross BlueShield helped to drastically increase the potential for Science Streams to reach teachers in need throughout the country.
“Our original plan was to make the series freely available to Title I schools and to charge a small fee for other schools,” Gorman says. “We are thrilled to have received enough support to be able to make the videos free to all teachers.”
In each video, Aquarium staff members lead discussions of and walk students through activities on a wide range of age-appropriate scientific topics, including:
- What animals need to survive
- What plants need to grow and survive
- The role of water on Earth’s surface
- Invasive species and reintroduction efforts
- Instincts vs. learned behavior
- Ecological relationships
- The science of studying animal behavior
In addition to walking students through the ins and outs of photosynthesis and breaking down the problem posed by invasive species, Science Streams also includes a suite of 10 behind-the-scenes videos. These pieces pull back the curtain to showcase many facets of life at the Aquarium, from conservation projects and diving to veterinary work and the care requirements for Giant Pacific Octopuses.
An exclusive link to view these videos and access accompanying educator guides will be made available for free to educators who register via tnaqua.org/educate/science-streams/. After submitting an online registration form, teachers will be emailed individual login information within two business days providing them access to all 18 videos.