Whether it’s observing, firsthand, how a Gentoo Penguin’s feathers trap air or feeling the rough, tooth-like rasp of an Epaulette Shark’s skin, there are countless educational moments that are only possible by visiting the Tennessee Aquarium.
In the last 28 years, opportunities such as these to directly connect with the natural world have made the Aquarium an exciting destination for countless students, many of whom are homeschooled. On Wednesday the Aquarium will celebrate the indispensable role of parent-educators with discounted admission for homeschool families and groups.
“For homeschool families, the Aquarium offers exciting opportunities because it is a place where family members of all ages can learn together,” says Dr. Brooke Gorman, the Aquarium’s director of science education. “In a homeschool setting, there is more freedom to let students’ interests guide their learning, and the Aquarium offers many opportunities for one student or a group of students to get excited about different topics.”
On Homeschool Day, eligible guests can take advantage of discounted, timed-entry tickets at $29.95 for adults and $9 for students ages 5-18. Homeschool families visiting on Homeschool Day also can purchase IMAX tickets and Aquarium memberships at a discounted rate.
Discounted tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting: https://community.tnaqua.org/events/2020/homeschool-day-at-the-tennessee-aquarium In accordance with local health mandates, all guests ages 12 and older are required to wear a face covering during their visit. All tickets are timed-entry to ensure proper physical distancing within the Aquarium’s buildings.
At the Aquarium, homeschool students and their families will travel from the mountains to the sea on a wondrous, animal-filled journey that has captivated tens of millions of visitors for almost 30 years. As they wind their way through the River Journey and Ocean Journey buildings, guests will encounter a host of amazing species, from sleek North American River Otters and toothy American Alligators to enormous Japanese Spider Crabs and graceful Green Sea Turtles.
For homeschool parents, the potential for in-the-moment education abounds during an Aquarium visit:
When better to discuss the benefits of camouflage than when face to face with masters of the craft like Common Cuttlefish or a Giant Pacific Octopus?
If symbiotic partnerships are on the lesson plan, the unlikely pairing of Clownfish and Anemones is a can’t-miss chance to discuss nature’s “Odd Couple” survival strategy.
Sexual dimorphisim is a big, scary phrase, but it basically means boys and girls look different. There’s no more adorable example of this than John and Jessie, the Aquarium’s newly exhibited pair of Red-collared Brown Lemurs.
It’s hard to ignore how wide a Paddlefish’s jaw expands at mealtime or the way Southern Stingrays glide over their food when they feed. What do animals’ mouths say about how and what they eat?
Homeschool students also will be among the first to experience the all-new Turtles of the World gallery. This collection of exhibits, including a working turtle nursery, offers a prime opportunity to learn how these amazing reptiles have survived since the age of the dinosaurs and the numerous challenges they now face while living alongside humans.
“The Aquarium is such a great place for so many different subjects,” Dr. Gorman says. “Not only can families learn about science, but also social studies, art, math, language arts and reading. I would consider planning on spending a whole day to help students see the cross-curricular nature of a place like the Aquarium.”
The Aquarium isn’t just an educational destination but a dedicated partner to enhancing science learning well beyond its campus on the banks of the Tennessee River. With so many children homebound and in need of mental stimulation and distraction since the onset of the global health crisis, the Aquarium’s award-winning education department developed Weekday Wonders. This curated collection of downloadable science-at-home activities is designed to educate and inspire kids — and their parents — to be more active while seeking out wonder in the natural world within the confines of their own backyard.
Weekday Wonders activity modules, arranged in five-day packages, represent 12 weeks worth of fun, thought-provoking activities. The included activities range from animal-themed yoga poses to try out, daily nature journaling as well as STEM-based games and crafting projects. Whether they’re homeschooled or not, parents can still take advantage of these free materials by visiting tnaqua.org/aquarium-at-home/weekday-wonders/.