A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

WAVE Foundation grows ‘wheels’ to take Aquarium’s sharks to local schools as part of outreach program

Special to NKyTribune

It’s not everyday you see live sharks from the Newport Aquarium being wheeled around an elementary school; but at Newport Intermediate School (NIS) in Newport recently, that is exactly what you would have seen.

Excitement and curiosity filled the room when the WAVE Foundation staff from the Newport Aquarium wheeled in “The Shark Cart”, a traveling aquarium the WAVE Foundation uses for educational purposes. The fourth graders were eager for the opportunity to touch the shark but Will Gosnell, education coordinator at WAVE Foundation, explained “We never touch an animal without learning about it first.”

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The WAVE Foundation is an educational foundation located at the Newport Aquarium. Its mission is to excite, engage, and educate the community about aquatic life and the importance of conservation.

Recently the foundation brought its mobile shark aquarium, “WAVE on WHEELS,” to NIS as part of the foundation’s Community Outreach Scholarship Fund. The Louis & Louise Nippert Charitable Foundation made a generous donation to the WAVE Foundation allowing the foundation to bring its outreach programs to under-privileged elementary and middle schools in the area.

“We believe community change begins with education and it is our goal to make sure the Newport Aquarium’s animals are something each child in our region gets to experience,” said Scott Wingate, executive director of WAVE Foundation. “This program is a once in a lifetime experience for many students who lack the funds and means to visit the Aquarium.”

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“So far we have inspired and educated more than 4,500 elementary students for several hours, suspended the students’ reality and inspired thoughts and questions about a world below the ocean’s surface,” said Wingate. “These experiences were made possible by the tremendous generosity of Louis & Louise Nippert Charitable Foundation.”

The Community Outreach Scholarship Fund will provide educational opportunities in 2016 for approximately 136 elementary schools and middle schools in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana that have at least 75 percent free and reduced lunch. Each qualifying school will receive an outreach program delivered by the WAVE Foundation. Teachers are able to choose from different programs that are aligned with state-standard based curriculum to best supplement their current lessons.

All programs include live animals such as African Penguins, American Alligators and Epaulette Sharks. The WAVE Foundation provides unique education curriculum and aims to increase awareness, curiosity and respect of aquatic animals and their environments.

“There is nothing better than watching a students eyes light up with excitement as they get to pet a real life penguin. These are the experiences we provide our community that makes our work so rewarding,” said Wingate.

“The WAVE Foundation’s program opened up our students mind to places they have never been before,” said Brian Courtney, principal of Newport Intermediate School.

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“Many of these students would not have had the opportunity to touch and interact with sharks and penguins ever, let alone in their own classroom. It was a wonderful educational, and life, experience for them.”

Applications are currently being accepted from now until December 1, 2016. Programs must be booked on a date in 2016. There are only a few guidelines; teachers must fill out an application and attach a description of how this program will enhance learning in their classroom; teachers must fill out one survey after the program is completed; only one program per teacher; and the classroom consists of 30 students or less.

If your local elementary school or middle school has at least 75 percent free or reduced lunches then the WAVE Foundation wants to visit your school. To apply, see Wave Foundation.

Teachers and school administrators can also contact the Education Curator Dan Dunlap at ddunlap@wavefoundation.org or by phone at 859-815-1442 for more information.

From WAVE Foundation

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