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Norwalk Students Celebrate Achievements At Aquarium After School Program

From left, Dakota Thompson, Carla Valdez and Kimberly Aristizabal staff their shark-conservation booth titled “Sharks Don’t Bite” May 28 during the end-of-year celebration for teens participating in the TeMPEST after-school program. Photo Credit: Contributed
Kiara Baguio, a junior at Brien McMahon High School, displays a maze she created that demonstrates threats to migrating sea turtles. Photo Credit: Contributed
Nazareth Hernandez (left), a sophomore at Norwalk High School, and Daija Brunson, a freshman at Brien McMahon High School, operate remote-operated vehicles they built during the TeMPEST after-school program. Photo Credit: Contributed
From left, Brien McMahon High students Pablo Parizot, Robert Kovach Jr., Benton Tarala and Sahian Beccerril release fledgling trout May 9 into the Silvermine River as part of their work in TeMPEST. Photo Credit: Contributed
Carlin Barton, a freshman at Brien McMahon High, releases fledgling trout May 9 into the Silvermine River as part of their work in TeMPEST. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. – The bonus after-school program TeMPEST (Teen Maritime Program Emphasizing Science and Technology) wrapped up its third year May 28 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The students came to the aquarium after school once a week for the program, which promotes 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. The participants attend all three Norwalk high schools: Brien McMahon, Norwalk and Richard C. Briggs; one student attends Fairchild Wheeler Magnet School in Bridgeport.

At a May 28 ceremony at the aquarium for parents, teachers and friends, Bridget Cervero, the aquarium’s TeMPEST coordinator, gave special recognition to 11 students for their exceptional work. They were Sahian Becerril, Ashley Gittens, Robert Kovach Jr., Aldo Ojeda, Kayla Pennell, Daniel Posadas, Benton Tarala and Carla Valdez of Brien McMahon; Ryan Dudek and Nazareth Hernandez of Norwalk High; and Evelyn Buceta of Briggs High.

At the event, students displayed the results of some of their work from the school year, including a hydrophone and aquatic remotely operated vehicles, news-style videos focused on animal evolution and adaptations and activity booths that engage guests with interactive demonstrations focused on conservation.

Tom Naiman, the aquarium’s director of education, said other TeMPEST highlights this year included hosting guest speakers from the aquarium and other professions, field trips to science-based institutions, working with Trout Unlimited to raise trout in the classroom and release them this spring, a three-day spring-break trip to Boston and more.

Brian Davis, president of The Maritime Aquarium, said TeMPEST is known within education circles among other member institutions of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

“People are recognizing the important work happening with the TeMPEST program,” Davis said. “You guys are doing amazing things.”

TeMPEST launched in the 2012-13 academic year with help from a $26,000 grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. The program started with 10 students and grew to 51 students in the 2014-15 school year.

A $150,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation is enabling the aquarium to continue TeMPEST into the 2015-16 school year. 

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