Expanded Learning Opportunity Brings Marinelife Education to Youth

It’s hard to imagine many adults who haven’t heard the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The classic children’s book teaches youth one of their first life lessons, “slow and steady wins the race.” Through this story, youth learn the value of patience. As youth get older many learn the names of four of the prominent renaissance artists thanks to another timeless classic, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello. Disney has added to the ever-growing youth-turtle connection by hosting “Turtle Talk,” a live interactive session at Disneyworld, where Crush the Sea Turtle from “Finding Nemo” answers audience questions while swimming around his digital tank.  

While most youth will first learn about any of the 13 families and nearly 300 different species of turtles through fictional storytelling mechanisms like these, Prime Time’s expanded learning opportunity partner Loggerhead Marine Life Center, a sea turtle research, rehabilitation, education and conservation center, allows youth in Palm Beach County afterschool programs to learn about their real-life counterparts through its six-part STEAM educational series: Diving into Ocean Connections.  

Children and youth tend to have a natural connection with sea turtles and marine life already, which brings so much energy and hope to all of our lessons! It is always fun to test what they already know (which is a lot) prior to beginning our lessons. -Lindsay French, Senior Education Manager, Loggerhead Marinelife Center 

At the conclusion of the series, Loggerhead’s participants will a have a better understanding of the meaning of ocean stewardship and environmental awareness through passionate instructors who foster positive connections with the ocean and marine life. Lessons also focus on the emotional and physical benefits of nature, as well as economic opportunities and careers in STEAM, creating a well-rounded and incredibly fun experience for youth in afterschool.  

In our program, we try to expose learners to the emotional and physical benefits of nature, as well as the economic opportunities and careers in STEAM. Many of our lessons are themed around, “jump into the shoes” of a veterinarian, biologist, etc. for youth to get hands-on experience similar to those of the professionals. -Lindsay French, Senior Education Manager, Loggerhead Marinelife Center 

Prime Time was able to catch Loggerhead’s Senior Education Manager Lindsay French in action at Crystal Lakes Elementary Afterschool Program in Boynton Beach. Lindsay began her time with Loggerhead while she was still in high school 15 years ago and has been working officially as a member of its staff for the past four years. Her enthusiasm for both marine life and the children she serves were on full display during her one-hour session, which began with a discussion about the variety of different sea turtles that call Florida home. After this mini sea turtle 101 lesson, Lindsay put on a video featuring of one of Loggerhead’s sea turtle patients, Slyvia, who was in its care due to an entanglement issue with netting and asked the youth to take notes on what behaviors they noticed. One of the youth participants proudly shared that Sylvia must be feeling way better since she was doing, a “whole lot of swimming and not much resting.”  

After the lesson concluded, Lindsay walked around to answer everyone’s questions and even heard a few stories from her participants including one of the girls, who with outstretched arms, shared how much she loved seeing a giant sea turtle in an aquarium when she was younger and enjoyed learning more about them this afternoon. 

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This, of course, is just one of the countless examples of how out-of-school time programming can create fun and hands-on educational experiences for children and youth beyond school hours. The importance of this time between school ends and home life begins cannot be overstated.  

Quality afterschool programming allows children and youth to experience a wide range of immersive programs in topics that are not easily accessible. For marine science specifically, many children do not have the resources needed to access our ocean ecosystems or coastal habitats and, therefore, this afterschool program allows us to remove those barriers and bring these experiences to them. -Lindsay French, Senior Education Manager, Loggerhead Marinelife Center 

Prime Time strives to provide children and youth with a wide range of hands-on learning experiences. In partnership with local content expert organizations, Prime Time makes available expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) to eligible afterschool and summer programs. In 2020-2021, Prime Time offered 136,829 learning experiences that impacted 50,001 youth between October 2020 and September 2021. To learn more about Loggerhead Marinelife Center and Prime Time’s full menu of expanded learning opportunity providers, click here.