NORWALK, CT – Educational and career opportunities will open up for a select group of Norwalk high-school students, thanks to a $150,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation to The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
The grant will propel an after-school program operated by the Aquarium that intends to eventually serve as many as 120 city high-school students, primarily those from groups lagging behind in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The program is called TeMPEST, an acronym for Teen Maritime Program Emphasizing Science & Technology. Its goals are to promote the teens’ STEM literacy, to prepare them for college, to make them aware of career opportunities and to develop skills that will help them in any profession.
“Surveys show that African-American and Hispanic adults are under-represented in STEM-related careers,” said Jamie Alonzo, the Aquarium’s director of education. “We’re very grateful to Newman’s Own Foundation for supporting TeMPEST and giving Norwalk students the chance to see a future – and to also achieve that future.”
A $26,000 grant from The Fairfield County Community Foundation helped the Aquarium to launch the program with 10 students in the 2012-13 academic year. The Newman’s Own Foundation grant enables the Aquarium to continue and expand TeMPEST over the next three years.
Alonzo said 30 more 9th- and 10th-graders are participating this year in TeMPEST’s entry-level program, called “Dead Reckoners.” The 40 students come to the Aquarium once a week after school for activities that supplement their formal schooling. (Examples include building a small remotely operated aquatic robotic vehicle and constructing dioramas about marine-science careers.) The “Dead Reckoners” also will travel together on area college visits.
As they become high-school upperclassmen, “Dead Reckoners” students in good standing can add on TeMPEST’s second- and third-level programs.
The second program level, for Grades 10-12, is called “SEA CORPS,” which stands for Science & Engineering Advanced Career Orientation & Readiness Program for Students. Its goal is teaching employment and communication skills, in part by involving the teens in the Aquarium’s educational presentations to visiting schoolchildren.
Third-level TeMPEST students in Grades 11-12 can participate in paid internship programs at The Maritime Aquarium and other non-profit organizations and maritime-industry partners.
“The third ‘Maritime Internship Academy’ level will give students real-world exposure to STEM careers in the marine sciences, science education and the maritime trades,” Alonzo said.
Ninth- and 10th-grade students are chosen for TeMPEST through a rigorous selection process.
Alonzo said the application process for the current school year is closed. He added that interested students should watch next spring for notifications about the 2014-15 “Dead Reckoners” program.
Jennifer Herring, president of The Maritime Aquarium, called TeMPEST an exciting addition to the Aquarium’s educational programming.
“This is just another way that The Maritime Aquarium brings value to the city of Norwalk, improving the quality-of-life index for Norwalk residents,” she said. “Certainly people know the economic benefits that the Aquarium brings to the city as a tourist attraction. But we also celebrate being able to present our unique educational programs to Norwalk students through TeMPEST and the other partnerships we have with the Norwalk schools.”
Newman’s Own Foundation is the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman. The Foundation turns all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products into charitable donations. To date, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have given more than $380 million to thousands of charities around the world.
Newman’s Own Foundation is a longtime supporter of The Maritime Aquarium, including one of the largest gifts in the Aquarium’s 25-year history: $1 million to help fund the Aquarium’s 2011-12 “FINtastic RefurbFISHment.” In recognition, the Aquarium gave the name “Newman’s Own Hall” to its large entry space that contains the seal exhibit and new visitor orientations to Long Island Sound.
Learn more about The Maritime Aquarium at www.maritimeaquarium.org.