Children ages 6 to 12 can plunge into the world of sharks and aquatic mammals, do the real work of marine biologists and lots more in a series of fun programs during the upcoming school vacation week April 11-15 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
The Maritime Aquarium’s “Spring Vacation Adventures” invite younger students (ages 6 to 8) to explore a different topic involving our watery world each day. And ages 9 to 12 can dabble in the activities of real marine biologists, from fish dissections to aquarium set-up and maintenance.
All programs meet from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To accommodate parents’ busy schedules, the Aquarium offers pre-care from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and post-care from 4-5:30 p.m.
For ages 6 to 8:
Younger kids can sign up for one, some or all five days. Each will be full of animal encounters, age-appropriate crafts and hands-on activities and experiments that make learning fun. The daily schedule and topics are:
Mon., April 11 – “Ocean Mammals.” In this exciting new program, children learn how otters, seals and whales are adapted to their watery world. Highlights include attending a private seal feeding before the Aquarium opens, with the chance to talk to the seal trainers. They’ll also see humpback whales life-size on the giant IMAX® screen, and play games that model how sea lion moms and pups recognize each other’s calls. And they’ll make enrichment toys to give to the river otters.
Tues., April 12 – “Reptiles.” Young explorers will compare turtles of land and sea to discover how they are adapted to their terrestrial and aquatic lifestyles. They’ll visit the Aquarium’s turtle exhibits, examine the look and feel of turtle artifacts, play a nesting game, and get to meet and touch a live turtle ambassador. The day also includes a visit to the exhibit, “Dragons! Real or Myth?,” to meet cousins of our turtle friends.
Wed., April 13 – “Sound Art.” 
 During this crafty day, nature and science will be brought to life through art. Start the day visiting Aquarium exhibits and seeking touch experiences to get inspiration. Then students will create a fossil, draw cartoon marine animals, paint a watercolor scene and much more. Participants should bring a smock for this day.
Thurs., April 14 – “Shark Safari.”
 Getting a real feel for sharks – literally – at the Aquarium’s Shark & Ray Touch Pool will be one highlight of a day spent exploring how sharks are similar to – but also different from – other fish.  Kids will discover sharks’ special adaptations, meet live sharks in the classroom, go behind-the-scenes to see how the Aquarium cares for its resident sharks, meet volunteer divers who swim with the Aquarium’s big sharks, and more.
Fri., April 15 – “Junior Aquarist.” Young scientists dive into marine biology in this exciting program. Children will have hands-on experiences with animals, including turtles and sea stars. They’ll meet one of our seal trainers and attend a private seal feeding. Activities include aquarium-themed games and making an enrichment toy to present to the Aquarium’s animals.
For ages 9 to 12:
April 11-15 – “Junior Marine Biologist.” In this five-day program, students get involved in the inner workings of the Aquarium’s animal-husbandry staff, with the goal of setting up, stocking, feeding and maintaining an aquarium display of Long Island Sound marine life. They’ll use water-chemistry meters to monitor water quality, grow brine shrimp to feed their animals, and participate in squid and fish dissections. (By taking this program in April, participants will be eligible to sign up for the more-advanced “Junior Marine Biologist 2” and “3” programs offered this summer.)
No matter the child’s age, cost of a “Spring Vacation Adventures” program is $100 per day or $500 for the full week. ($90 / $450 for Maritime Aquarium members.)
Pre-care is $20 additional per day or $85 for the week. Post-care is $40 per day or $170 for the week. Maritime Aquarium members receive discounts.
Children should bring a snack, a bag lunch and an appetite for adventure. Also, as a Connecticut state-certified camp, the Aquarium requires health-exam forms for every child enrolled.
Space is limited and advance registration is required. For reservations or more details about “Spring Vacation Adventures,” call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org
Of course, The Maritime Aquarium offers other opportunities to give your child a special day during the spring-break week – such as a fun family visit. All exhibits in the popular Connecticut attraction will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including: the “Dragons” exhibit, starring a rare black dragon; and “Jiggle A Jelly,” where guests can safely touch live jellyfish.

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