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Students Discover Nature Aboard the Aquarium’s New Boat
Cruises Launch New Environmental Programs at Calvin Donaldson

River Gorge Explorer in the River Gorge

Chattanooga, Tenn. (October 23, 2008) – When Tennessee Aquarium education outreach coordinator Bill Haley visits a school like Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy, science jumps to life. Haley’s programs cover a variety of topics like undersea wonders, rivers or creepy crawlies. “It gives added emphasis to the topics they are studying. During the creepy crawlies programs students get to see a giant hissing cockroach, a tarantula

and an African millipede. It helps them understand what an arthropod is,” said Haley.

Thanks to a new grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, the efforts of the Tennessee Aquarium’s education department will be multiplied. Special cruises aboard the Tennessee River Gorge Explorer will launch these efforts taking third, fourth and fifth graders from Calvin Donaldson out on an eco-adventure to learn more about the importance of freshwater conservation. Each group will test water quality, learn about freshwater habitats and search for native species while cruising in “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.”

The Community Foundation grant also ensures that students will be immersed in numerous exciting new environmental programs. More than 50 outreach programs touching students from Pre-K through fifth grade are planned at the school along with Aquarium visits, field trips to local streams and a limited number of summer camp scholarships.

It’s an ambitious effort designed to help bridge the widening gap between the natural world and tomorrow’s environmental stewards. “The students go out with their eyes wide open while learning about conservation,” said George Bartnik, the Aquarium’s education programs manager. “We hope they develop an appreciation for the natural world as a result of this partnership.”

Educators at Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy are hoping this intensive programming has other benefits as well. “I hope we are increasing their environmental awareness and these experiences will inspire them to finish school and go on to college,” said Heidi Chapin, CDESA’s magnet expedition specialist. 


Additional information:

 Calvin Donaldson 3rd grade students will be aboard the River Gorge Explorer at 9:30 am on Monday, October 27th.

 Calvin Donaldson 4th grade students will be aboard the River Gorge Explorer at 9:30 am on Tuesday, October 28th.

 Calvin Donaldson 5th grade students will be aboard the River Gorge Explorer at 9:30 am on Thursday, October 30th.

 Students will begin boarding the vessel at 9:15 am for each trip.



The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $19.95 per adult and $12.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $25.95 for adults and $17.95 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.
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