Mariners’ Museum Tests Outdoor Science Pilot Program

It’s a third grader’s dream come true: going to science class outdoors, playing in the dirt.

The Mariners’ Museum and Park made that dream come true for a lucky class last month, launching the Nature Explorers pilot program, an “outdoor education sensory experience.”

In mid-October, third graders from L. F. Palmer Elementary School in Newport News planted a new pollinator garden at the museum, learning from Peninsula Master Naturalists how to plant native and local plant species.

Andrea Rocchio, the museum’s Science Educator, calls the program a success, saying students seem to have a better understanding of ecosystems and were proud to contribute to the garden in such a significant way.

The plants were donated by Sassafras Farms and the program is funded by a Nature Conservancy grant given to The Mariners’ Museum’s education department.

Future student groups will be able to observe pollinators in action, and help maintain the garden throughout the seasons.

The pollinator garden is one of three outdoor ecosystems at the museum that students got to rotate through. The others focus on birds and investigating living and nonliving things on the Noland Trail.

The Mariners’ Museum hopes to offer the Nature Explorers program to more schools in the area, but in the meantime, anyone can visit the outdoor education stations. The pollinator garden is in the green space near the outdoor wooden play ships.

To learn more about the museum’s education programs, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano