Parenting

Parenting: Ocean-friendly kids

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
An image from the NOAAs new Oceat Today kiosk at Adventure Aquarium.

An image from the NOAA's new Oceat Today kiosk at Adventure Aquarium. (An image from the NOAA's new Oceat Today kiosk at Adventure Aquarium.)

The next time you and the kids are romping around the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, check out the new kid-friendly Ocean Today kiosk. It was installed last month as part of World Oceans Day activities.

The kiosk includes a touch-screen 50-inch monitor that kids can use to explore all kinds of videos and other content. The aim is to teach kids about efforts to keep oceans clean and safe for people and the sea's more permanent residents.

The information comes straight from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What's neat is that, while some of the content covers international programs, there's also news on the screen about home town efforts. Efforts to fight water pollution, overfishing and the destruction of the places where marine animals live - not only in the ocean itself, but in local waterways.

Aquariums and zoos exist, not only to entertain you and the little ones, but to educate and sensitize visitors to animal issues. Adventure Aquarium staffers say they take this part of the job seriously.

The place is a designated Coastal America Learning Center affiliated with the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences. It's also part of an international network of educational institutions all working together to create a generation of young people who value nature.

Bill DuVall is the president of the Academy and says this Ocean Kiosk is perfect for that mission, because it's fun and engaging. It plays toward both little ones and adults, providing "a new and exciting dimension of learning opportunity here at Adventure Aquarium."

DuVall also says that the NOAA content changes regularly, so the information is fresh. There's also a chance for the New Jersey Academy to contribute content that can be fed to 23 other learning sites around the country, sharing the good news about local marine-friendly efforts.

Of course, stuff like this doesn't often stick with kids without a little parental reinforcement. So, after your visit, talk to your children about the oceans and rivers and how nice it is that people are working to protect these great bodies of water.

Who knows? Maybe a little exposure to an environmental message and a chat every now and then about conservation and earth-friendly behavior, will turn your kid into a nature-protecting adult. The world can always use plenty of those!

---David Murphy

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