Get excited about education at The Florida Aquarium!

Tampa, Fl - TBAE cultural reporters are making a splash at The Florida Aquarium! We visited the Carol J. and Barney Barnett Learning Center to see what this exciting learning space had to offer. 

Carol J. and Barney Barnett, chairman and vice chairman of Publix Super Market donated 1 million dollars towards the expansion of the learning center in 2012. This donation helped the center to expand from two classrooms to five themed learning spaces. 

“What we wanted to do is transform our classrooms,” said Debbi Stone, Vice President of Education at the Florida Aquarium, “We had two multipurpose rooms and they looked like multipurpose rooms. They didn’t really have that pizzazz we were looking for.” 

The renovated learning center opened on October 8th, 2014. The learning center’s five rooms are designed to teach students, elementary through high school, with innovative and immersive student programming. 

The rooms, which are separated for student age groups, include the Florida Coastal room, Green Room, In My Backyard, the Open Ocean room and an experimental lab. The first three rooms are dedicated to Operation Tango, in which elementary and middle school students can participate in activities to help find a missing loggerhead turtle.  The experimental lab is catered for the older students, where they can dissect marine animals with advanced technology and scientific instruments. The final space, the Open Ocean room, features special lighting and effects to simulate an underwater experience. 

“Hopefully, when the kids come into these rooms they won’t feel like they’re on a field trip and just going to another classroom,” said Stone. “They feel like they’re in a whole new part of the aquarium with this immersive experience.” 

To learn more about the Carol J. and Barney Burnett Learning Center has to offer click here.