Bridging the gap through distance learning program

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Bridging the gap through distance learning program

PINE KNOLL SHORES, N.C. –  In a day of technology, the sky is the limit when it comes to what teachers can bring to the classroom and now that includes sea turtles, birds and other animals from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Thanks to Skype in the Classroom, educators are bridging the gap in science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.

Children connect to aquatic creatures through a presentation about the life cycle of sea turtles.

“I love to reach those kids who have never had a chance to come to the beach,” said Samantha Betancur, the Aquarium outreach coordinator. “To see their face light up when they see a sea turtle for the first time — it is a really great way to connect.”

This connection is important when teaching children about conservation and how their everyday behaviors have an impact – positive or negative – on the natural world.

The Pine Knoll Shores outreach program ties conservation messages to conservation behaviors the youth from around the world can take part in.

“Everyone, no matter where they live, has an impact on the ocean,” said Betancur. “Sometimes people who live in inland states do not understand how much of an impact they have on the ocean because they live so far away.”

Students and teachers alike enjoy the ability to virtually step outside their classroom and into the Aquarium.

“The students were thrilled to learn about these important reptiles and the teachers were eager to learn about sea turtles and share this program with our students,” said Denise Spar, a teacher from New Jersey. “We will be sure to keep the discussion going on ways that we can help protect our water and animals that live in it.”

The Aquarium has hosted classes around the world – England, Ireland, France, Mexico and Canada. Betancur explains that distance and language are not barriers to learning

“It is always neat to see, regardless of the language, how children can be engaged in learning about the ocean and our sea life,” Betancur said.

Free online classes are every Wednesday and requires preregistration. Teachers can also opt for a paid program any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that comes packed with additional curriculum and student take-aways.

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