(Virginia Beach, VA) – This week children return to school and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center welcomes preschoolers to the new Children’s Corner in the Marsh Pavilion. Just opened last week, the Children’s Corner was designed to engage children age 6 and under with interactive and creative play opportunities. The brightly colored room features blocks, puzzles, hopscotch, and other age-appropriate activities that enhance the Aquarium experience for younger guests.
The Children’s Corner is located in what was formerly the MicroMarsh exhibit. When this exhibit space needed to be refurbished, Aquarium staff decided to create a space devoted to early learners. This decision was based on experience with this audience:
- Recent surveys reveal that 48% of Aquarium guests visit with at least one child under the age of 12.
- Some of the Aquarium’s most popular changing exhibits, Grossology, Animal Grossology, and Little Builders, successfully targeted this age group.
- Aquarium members frequently ask for more activities for their pre-school children.
Director of Education Chris Witherspoon said, “This new exhibit also reinforces the Aquarium’s commitment to providing educational enrichment opportunities to early learners, as this is one key to building school readiness skills.” Additionally, the Aquarium has one staff member, the early learning coordinator, who develops programs such as Toddler Tuesdays and Early Explorations for this age group and serves on the City’s GrowSmart team. The Aquarium also partners with Virginia Beach Public Libraries for Waves, Words, & Wonder, a grant-funded enrichment program for 4-year-olds and their families.
The exhibit was funded by the Aquarium Connection. This is a group of young professionals and community leaders who support the Virginia Aquarium Foundation’s goals of increasing awareness of the Aquarium’s mission and developing financial resources for exhibits, the stranding response program, educational programs, and special projects.
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The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums whose mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices. The Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard, just south of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. For more information on exhibits, movies, boat rides and special event, call (757) 385-FISH (3474).
Images are available in a larger size upon request. Please credit the Virginia Aquarium.