Program Profile: Students Become Scientists through Haynes EEC-New England Aquarium Partnership

The buses pull alongside Carson Beach on a sun-splashed day, and when the doors open, 40 kindergarten and 1st graders dash to the shoreline. But this isn’t your typical day at the beach. These young scientists are here to learn, not just lounge.

And so begins another field learning experience for the Haynes Early Education CenterNew England Aquarium partnership. This Summer Learning Academy site, one of 31 developed by Boston Public Schools and Boston After School & Beyond, focuses on helping Haynes students hone their reading, math, science, and life skills over the summer.

Haynes students examine sand particles on Carson Beach during a field-based learning experience with the New England Aquarium (credit: Casey Atkins)

On this day at the beach, students work with Haynes teachers and Aquarium staff to study sand particles, find hermit crabs, and scour the beach for evidence of animals and their adaptations. Of course, staff mix in some lunch and sand castle building to cap off the day.

It all integrates into the site’s focus on using Boston Public Schools’ Summer Early Focus marine unit (kindergarten) and animals & insect unit (1st grade) curricula. Earlier in the summer, students toured the New England Aquarium and touched for the first time jellyfish, lobster, and horseshoe crabs. On another day at the Haynes, a beekeeper visited with a hive to bring hands-on learning to life.

A typical week for Haynes’ students includes reading and math classes taught by BPS teachers, craft time, storytelling, an on-site visit from the Aquarium (usually featuring Aquarium staff and an Aquarium animal), and an all-day field-based learning experience. For the latter, in addition to Carson Beach and the Aquarium, students visited Jamaica Pond and took a ferry ride to Georges Island, the first time many of the students had boarded a boat.

The site culminated last week with a family celebration where students presented craft activities and narrated stories about their field-based learning experiences and marine life/animals. These same students will return to the Haynes in several weeks for the beginning of the new school year, and they can’t wait to tell their peers all about their summer adventures.