In the last two years, second graders at Perquimans Central School have raised $2,000 to donate to the sea turtle rehabilitation program at North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island by making and selling bracelets.
The students learned about endangered sea turtles by visiting the aquarium with financial support through the Aquarium Scholars grant program.
A partnership through NC Aquariums, public schools and the nonprofit North Carolina Aquarium Society, educators at Title 1 and Title 1-eligible schools can apply for these grants.
That’s what second grade teacher Laura Duncan did and encourages other teachers in Title 1 schools, which are schools with high poverty levels, to apply as well.
Application deadline is Sept. 15. Apply for the program through the aquarium website.
Duncan explained in the announcement that the Aquarium Scholars grant program has supported visits to the aquarium allowing her students, who may never have left their county, to experience the coastal environment, and to see the animals there.
“This opens their eyes to learning more about animals, helping to conserve and care for our world — and they can build background knowledge of species and habitats. It is the platform for learning when we return — we’ve had the shared experience, and it makes all the difference,” Duncan said.
The program Duncan and her students have created begins with a visit to the aquarium in March, where the students see the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation, or STAR, Center. Then, in the classroom, they learn about sea turtles, and begin making bracelets with supplies Duncan purchases.
“In addition to creating the bracelets, the class makes commercials for the school news, works on marketing, and produces sea turtle books, pamphlets, magnets, and a website,” she said. The project wraps up with a virtual meeting with sea turtle expert Dr. Stephen Dunbar from Loma Linda University.
The Aquarium Scholars grant program is funded by the North Carolina Aquarium Society.
“Since the program started in 2018, we’ve been able to connect over 12,000 North Carolina students from 78 counties with the amazing education experiences offered by the three Aquariums and Jennette’s Pier at little to no cost to the school,” Society Communications Manager Colleen Shytle said in a statement. “Regardless of the school’s proximity to the coast, learning opportunities are available that are relevant and accessible to engage students.”