Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
Opened in July 1988, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to have a good time while learning about the vital natural resource just off our shore: Long Island Sound. Set in a refurbished 1860s factory at the mouth of the Norwalk River, the Aquarium building and its location reflect the region’s industrial past and human uses of Long Island Sound for recreation and commerce.
Visitors explore at their own pace, observing 34 exhibits featuring more than 1,200 marine animals of 259 species. The Long Island Sound journey begins along a freshwater river and the shallow waters of the salt marsh, then moves into deeper and deeper habitats out to the open ocean. These close encounters with animals, enhanced by friendly volunteer interpreters and informative display panels, educate visitors about the aquatic life of Long Island Sound and its watershed.
The sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles and other animals, carefully tended in re-created natural settings, serve as ambassadors both for their species and the Sound’s natural environment. These intimate encounters are the heart of the learning experience and provide visitors – children especially – with a basis for understanding their role in the web of life.
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The Maritime Aquarium offers exciting science-education experiences … in the Aquarium, in the field and at your school. The inspiration of this learning is Long Island Sound, perhaps familiar to students for its proximity but a fascinating unexplored world below the surface.
Interactions with our live animals and engaging science programs can help you inspire your students to become eager learners and young conservationists. We offer standards-based learning opportunities that make science a positive adventure for your students as they’re introduced to scientific concepts, processes and the importance of science in our lives today.
Of course, every visit to our nationally recognized aquarium is a fun and educational experience that gets your students up close to sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles, jellyfish and dozens of other species native to Long Island Sound and its watershed. The Aquarium also has Connecticut’s largest IMAX movie theater. Documentaries on our six-story screen wil transport your students on an unforgettable learning adventure.
Educators voiced concerns. Aquarium donors answered. We have financial assistance available for Aquarium admission, IMAX® movies, programs and bus transportation costs. Some, but not all, financial aid is needs-based. Aid is limited and awarded on a first-come first-served basis. Book early! Enjoy it all at the Aquarium or in the field. Or a Traveling Teacher will bring the fun and learning right into your classroom or auditorium, or to a nearby park, pond, stream or beach.
There are lots of possibilities as you design just the right fun and educational visit to The Maritime Aquarium for your students.
Programs by Grade
You’ll find all the answers for your planning here. Click here…
Here are two common schedules used by teachers. Click here…
Plus, you can perfect your visit by matching your focus of studies to any one of the titles available in our IMAX film library, showing in stunning clarity on our six-story screen! Click here..
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The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk brings Long Island Sound Marine Science to Your School
Have the Aquarium visit your school! Except where noted, each 45-minute presentation is for groups of up to 28 students and costs $165 plus additional travel fees. Discounts are given for multiples of the same program held on the same day in the same classroom: $100 for the second program, $95 for the third and $90 for each additional.
Additional charges may include: a “layover fee” for gaps of an hour or more between classes; travel charges; and parking fees.
Pre-K and Kindergarten
“House for Hermit Crab”
Students follow along month by month as they listen to this classic book about a year in the life of a young hermit crab. They use their senses and sharpen observational and verbal skills as they share what they notice and ask questions. They handle some live animals from the story and look for similarities and differences in various crabs, including an invasive species.Program duration dependent on the students’ attention spans.
Living vs. Non-Living
For kindergarten only. Through a guided discussion, students share their observations about the characteristics of living and once-living organisms, as well as non-living things. They compare and contrast two live animals of the same grouping.
For ages 4 & up only. Members of the same group of animals can look and behave very differently. For example, herring and sharks are both fish, but have distinct differences in their size, color and habits. Activities include touching shark teeth, measuring themselves against a life-sized shark puzzle they assemble, and weighing out food for the Aquarium’s sharks.
Grades 1 & 2
By observing and touching a variety of live intertidal animals, students learn about these creatures’ different structures and behaviors. Activities focus on how these animals meet their basic needs for oxygen, food, water, shelter and space.
Sea Turtle Life Cycle
After hearing a story about the life cycle of a loggerhead sea turtle, students play a counting game that teaches about the needs of turtles and demonstrates how and why few survive from hatchling to adult. Students look for special structures and behaviors that help sea turtles meet their basic needs, and discuss ways they can help protect these ancient creatures.
Whales and Dolphins
Is a dolphin a whale? How do scientists group whales? How are you like a whale? Students observe and describe similarities and differences, measure themselves against a life-sized whale puzzle, learn about conservation issues and participate in activities that demonstrate whale and dolphin adaptations.
Grades 3 & 4
Life Between the Tides
The intertidal zone is a unique habitat in which organisms have different behavioral and structural adaptations to survive the rising and falling of tides every day. Students will learn about the moon’s effect on tides, as they read a tide chart for the day of their visit and discuss how the organisms depend on the living and non-living features of the environment for survival. And they share observations and ask questions as they notice and handle a variety of live intertidal invertebrates.
Sharks and Fish
Animals have structural adaptations for getting food, such as specialized teeth or a keen sense of smell. Students will work in teams to rotate through stations focusing on the animals’ adaptations and survival strategies, the similarities between sharks and other fish, and conservation issues. Activities include measuring out the amount of food that the Aquarium feeds its sharks, observing physical adaptations of a fish, and touching shark jaws, skin and other artifacts.
Squid have very unique behavioral and structural adaptations for survival, and they depend on living and non-living components of their environment. Students observe and ask about these adaptations and interactions as they learn dissection skills. They also compare and contrast squid with other mollusks, such as snails and clams.
Brine Shrimp Inquiry (for Grades 5-6)
Available only as a 90-minute program. Through a guided inquiry experiment, students investigate how brine shrimp respond to different stimuli while implementing the basics of the scientific method. Students work in groups for formulate a hypothesis, note observations, chance variables and state results. $265 for first program, $185 for others on the same day.
The intertidal zone is a unique ecosystem in which organisms have different adaptations to sense and respond to information about their environment as the tides rise and fall. Students learn about the moon’s effect on tides, as they read a tide chart for the day of their visit and discuss challenges for animals living in the intertidal zone and the physical factors with which they interact. Students share observations and ask questions as they notice and handle a variety of intertidal invertebrates.
Marine World Magnified
The unseen marine world opens up to students as they learn to use hand lenses and microscopes to observe a variety of live animals. Students compare the structure of the eye to a microscope. They then use books and charts to identify the creatures they have seen. Food chains and human impacts are discussed.
Through dissection, students explore how squid sense and respond to their environment by examining a squid’s unique physical adaptations, including the exceptionally large eyes. Students also compare and contrast squid to other mollusks such as clams and snails.
Environmental Issues for Grades 3-8
These 45-minute programs introduce students to some of the environmental issues facing the world today/ Students learn about many of the impacts these issues have on our climate, wildlife, ecosystems, everyday living and Long Island Sound. Solutions to current issues are discussed. (Many activities relate to state Social Studies standards too.)
Through an interactive presentation, students learn the differences between climate and weather, the basic of the greenhouse effect, and how carbon cycles through the environment. Through discussion and hands-on activities, students discover how climate change impacts our weather, wildlife and everyday living. They’ll also brainstorm for solutions that can be implemented in their own lives and communities.
An ecosystem is composed of all populations that are living in a certain space and the physical factors with which they interact. The introduction of non-native plants or animals can have a negative impact on an ecosystem. Students will take part in fun hands-on activities while exploring the environmental impacts of invasive species that can now be found in Long Island Sound. Students also will learn what they can do to prevent further spreading of exotic species.
Most precipitation that falls in Connecticut eventually reaches Long Island Sound. This water moving across and through the earth carries with it the products of human activities. With Long Island Sound’s extensive watershed as an example, discover the impact of humans on aquatic ecosystems. Students will share their observations as they “pollute” a watershed model, then look for ways to clean it up. Hands-on discovery of basic scientific and ecological concepts.
Traveling Teacher for Large Goups
Dr. LivingSound® Traveling Science Show!
For Grades 2-6
This lively 45-minute program, for up to 200 students, incorporates drama, surprise and humor to introduce students to Long Island Sound’s environment and the issues that concern it. Our Dr. LivingSound® character (played by a Maritime Aquarium educator) draws students into hands-on demonstrations that teach how science connects to the marine world. Using water as its central topic, “the good doctor” introduces students to the Sound’s watershed, explains the water cycle and examines the different ways we use water.
Cost is $525. Discounts available for multiple presentations on the same day: $275 each additional presentation. Additional charges may include a “layover fee” for gaps of one hour or more between classes, travel charges, and any parking fees.
Touch Tank for a Day!
A great bonus for Field Days, Science Fairs or Family Nights
We’ll set up a supervised touch tank with live tidal-pool creatures and animal artifacts. A great hands-on learning-station enhancement to any event!
Cost: $165 for the first hour, $100 for second hour, $95 for third hour and $90 for each additional hour.
Long Island Sound Day
We can arrange a day at your school so that several grades, or all students, can experience our unique program.
Our Long Island Sound Day includes an initial indoor assembly program (for up to 200) with a PowerPoint presentation, then in one-hour blocks students can rotate through a variety of stations that include our live tide-pool animals. Other stations could include topics on whales, sharks or invasive species.
Cost: $300 for initial assembly/ set-up, $200 per hour thereafter. Travel charges may also apply. For more information, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2271.
After-school Programs at Your School
Learning, fun and inspiration don’t have to stop when the dismissal bell sounds. The Maritime Aquarium’s staff of educators will work with you to design a customized after-school program, conducted at your school, that will both entertain your students and supplement their school day learning!
The following series are offered singly or in combination for months of enrichment and fun.
Ocean Explorers 1
This multi-week hands-on program engages students in learning about Long Island Sound. Students will investigate fish, crabs, mollusks, turtles, marine mammals and more.
Ocean Explorers 2
This multi-week program engages students in hand-on experiences, in such topics as sharks, whales, pollution, coral reefs and live intertidal animals from Long Island Sound.
(Activities are adjusted to be group-appropriate.)
Animal Adaptation Package
This multi-week series introduces students to animals and plants of Long Island Sound. Includes squid & fish dissections, sharks, intertidal habitats and microscope use.
Environmental Issues Package
This multi-week series focuses on such environmental issues as climate change, invasive species, water pollution, frogs and turtles.
This multiweek series utilizes your schoolyard as a classroom. Students investigate what plants and animals live there and the human impact on that environment.
Seashore Biodiversity Package
For schools within driving distance of a beach, this multi-week series focuses on Long Island Sound. Students are introduced to the animals and habitats of Long Island Sound, the scientific method and the collection of data.
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These programs get students out in nature, where they’ll practice developing their science-inquiry, literacy and numeracy skills. Please note special prices and times. For a Field Ecology program conducted at your site, adjacent free parking is required. Travel fees may apply. School must pay parking fees.
- Aquarium admission is optional.
- If you have more than 28 students, you must book multiple programs.
- The 7:1 student:chaperone ratio applies.
- Field Ecology programs are conducted only around low tide. Students will get their feet wet! Wear boots or shoes that can get soggy, and dress for the weather!
Grades K – 2
Visit to the Seashore
Students get out to the water’s edge for the excitement of being “in the field.” They’ll use their senses – plus some scientific sampling techniques – during a discovery tour looking for – and learning about – living and non-living things at the sandy shore, rocky shore and tidal marsh habitats. Explore a Long Island Sound shoreline near The Maritime Aquarium or at your local beach. (School must supply beach entry pass, if necessary.) 2 hours.
Standards: CT: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 10; NY: all; NJ: all.
Grades 3 – 6
Explore a Long Island Sound shoreline near The Maritime Aquarium or at your local beach. (School must supply beach entry pass, if necessary.) Learn about the geological processes that helped create our tidal marshes, rocky shores and sandy beaches. Students use scientific equipment to collect animals and test water composition, then consider the changing habitats, varying needs and adaptations of animals living in these marine environments. Other topics include tides, invasive species and habitat conservation. 2 hours.
Standards: CT: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10; NY: all; NJ: all.
Education and Marine Science Resources
Our Education Department wants to make your connection with The Maritime Aquarium as easy and as helpful as possible.
And you can download a selection of lesson plans that will enhance your curriculum pre- and post-visit, as well as Activity Sheets Sheets and a Scavenger Hunt that will engage and focus students during their Aquarium visit.
Ways to Enhance your next School trip
The Maritime Aquarium offers two study cruise programs onto Long Island Sound. These are available to the public and also to schools/summer camps as charters.
Marine Life Study Cruise
1 p.m. Saturdays May-June
1 p.m. daily in July & August
1 p.m. Saturdays in September & October
School/Camp charters: 9 a.m. & 1 p.m. weekdays April-October (only 9 a.m. July & August)
Study marine biodiversity from the water’s surface down to the bottom for a first-hand understanding of Long Island Sound’s interdependent marine life. Students utilize such sampling techniques as a plankton tow, biodredge, mud grab and otter trawl that may bring up fish, crabs, lobsters, sea stars and more. A video microscope and touch tank onboard enhance observations. Passengers must be over 42″ tall. If under the age of 21, you must accompanied by an adult. Capacity: 29.
Cost: $22.95 per person
Aquarium Members: $17.95
NEW! Discounted Combination Cruise + Aquarium admission:
$39.95 adults; $38.95 youths (13-17) & seniors (65+); $33.95 ages 12 & under.
Groups (10 or more people): $550.
The Maritime Aquarium’s IMAX® Theater
The Maritime Aquarium has the largest IMAX® theater in Connecticut, with a screen as tall as a six-story building! Thanks to our recent renovation, you can enjoy comfy new seats with cupholders, new floor and wall treatments, a new stage for live presentations, and a new ticket lobby with concession stand offerimng popcorn, water, sodas and your favorite candies. [ more info … ]
SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY: have a seat in the refurbished IMAX Theater engraved with the name of someone you love and make a lasting impression on Maritime Aquarium history. Click here for a “write-able” pdf donor form.
IMAX® is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.
TEACHERS! Groups of 50 or more can book a special 10 a.m. IMAX movie. Choose from our current films (shown below) or any from our IMAX film library. Go to IMAX library films to preview what’s available. Many have Educator’s Guides prepared by the film’s producers.
Hours of Operation
The Maritime Aquarium is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day of the year, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. During the months of July and August, we’re open until 6 p.m.
Learn more about our mission, our history, our results (educationally and economically) and more by visiting our site by clicking here !
Maritime Aquarium Group Pricing
Book your trip today!
To begin planning your group’s visit to The Maritime Aquarium or to book an IMAX movie, study cruise, or an educational program at the Aquarium, in the field, or at your school, please call 203-852-0700 ext. 2206 between 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. or eMail us at:email@example.com
ATTENTION Camp Directors and Counselors:
We can accommodate last minute groups! Call the number above right away, as fast as same day, and our very large Aquarium will host your campers!
Groups are considered 10 or more.
Chaperones are 1:7 ratio.
Need financial assistance?
Download the Group Financial-aid Form and either email it or mail to: Reservations Dept., The Maritime Aquarium, 10 North Water Street, Norwalk, CT 06854; or fax it to: 203-852-8892.
(You can only purchase group tickets through reservations.)
Maritime Aquarium Group Admission Prices
(You can only purchase group tickets through reservations.)
|Groups are considered 10 or more. Reservations must be made at least 24 hrs. prior to visit. Call weekdays Mon.-Fri. only.
||Student or Group Child||Extra Adults||Group
Aquarium + Classic IMAX Movie
|Classic IMAX Movie
|Hollywood IMAX Movie
Prices and times are subject to change without notice.