Partnerships in Palm Beach County Allow Youth to Become Sea Turtle Biologists in Afterschool

Children and Youth participating in the Afterschool Connections Program at Franklin Academy in Boynton Beach, Florida (pictured left) were able to enjoy a series of interactive educational experiences thanks to a unique partnership between the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, and Inwater Research Group in Jensen Beach. Through the partnership Literacy Coalition was able to adapt Inwater Research Group’s original lesson plans intended for higher grade levels to create an integrated science and literacy program for the second and third graders participating in the afterschool program. Inwater Research Group also provided one of their Turtle Trunk featuring collection of educational resources including sea turtle skull replicas, sea turtle models, biological tools, circuit boards, and more to help Literacy Coalition teach the importance of ocean conservation and allow the world of sea turtles to come to life for youth.

“The children in our program always love Ms, Sharkey’s enrichments.  They get to experience STEM in ways that are engaging, fun and most of all memorable.”

Barbara Mirabal, Afterschool Director for Afterschool Connections at Franklin Academy

Inspired by the conclusion of sea turtle nesting season on September 30, 2021, and their partnership with Inwater Research group, Literacy Coalition’s Stories & STEM program facilitated a series of educational activities centered around everyone’s favorite aquatic shelled reptiles. In one lesson (pictured right), youth in second and third grade took on the role of sea turtle biologists to determine if the “stranded” turtles they were assigned could be released into the wild or needed to be sent to a special turtle hospital.

“They learned unique scientific terminology, such as ‘carapace’ and ‘scute,’ from the book and then followed up by gathering clues (in this case scientific data and observations) and determining whether their stranded sea turtles need to be transported to a turtle hospital or released back into the wild.”

-Callie Sharkey, Stories and Stem Program Manager for The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County

Afterschool Connections in Boynton Beach strives to make programming relevant and meaningful for the youth who attend. The director focuses on connecting the youth to each other and to the larger community.  This helps youth practice problem solving as well as expands their experience beyond what is typical.  Bringing educational opportunities like this to her program helps youth be excited about learning.

Anita Winkis, Quality Advisor for Prime Time Palm Beach County

This activity was part of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County’s Stories and STEM Program, which aims to excite children and youth about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), expand upon prior knowledge, promote curiosity, and help children learn essential cooperation and teamwork skills. Through this program children learn that STEM involves more than just collecting facts; it is a way of thinking and exploring the world. Stories and STEM is where literacy and science meet! In each session, children engage in fun, hands-on activities related to a book and are introduced to creative minds, both famous and lesser-known, who can serve as role models to interest children in STEM careers.

The Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County is an expanded learning opportunity provider, contracted by Prime Time Palm Beach County, which receives significant funding from the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, to enhance learning experiences in out-of-school time.

Inwater Research Group has a deep-rooted dedication to education. Their responsibility not only lies in directly implementing conservation practices and studying marine life, but also sharing their findings with the public. They have the unique pleasure of being able to reach the community through myriad avenues including: school outreachcurricula requestspublic lecture seriesturtle walks and so much more. If you are located in Martin County and are interested in this free Traveling Trunk Program or any of their other offerings you can contact their Education Program Manager Rebecca Mott via email at