Dear Aquarium family,
I’m Brian Thill, director of education here at the Aquarium.
One day, I was walking along the Charleston Harbor with a colleague when we came across the Maritime Center. I gazed at it, with its four big garage bay doors and its balcony overlooking the harbor, and I considered our ever-expanding array of education programs and how we’re turning thousands of students away each year with our current classroom constraints.
Then I thought to myself, Just as the Ashley, Cooper and Wando rivers come together right in this harbor, how amazing would it be to have an education facility that did the same… a confluence — a gathering place — where educators, teens, students, adults, scientists and our community could create wider channels and stronger currents of collaboration, learning and understanding…
Now, that vision is coming to life with your help.
The Boeing Learning Lab at the Maritime Center will allow us to double our reach and offer free STEM education programs to thousands of students each year. Just a short walk down the harbor from the Aquarium, it will give students, from the mountains to the sea of South Carolina and beyond, the opportunity to peer out on the horizon and see the Atlantic Ocean. The place where sky meets water will become their classroom, as they breathe in the salty air and experience the sights and sounds of the harbor. For some, this may be their first or only trip to the coast. For others, this will become the catalyst that leads them to becoming the next generation of conservation stewards and STEM professionals.
At the Learning Lab, teens will have the opportunity to meet local, regional and national professionals and acquire hands-on insight to help them map out their journey to a science-forward and climate-conscious career path. This one-of-kind education facility will serve as an embarkation point on their journey as these teens grow to adulthood, ultimately giving back to the community in mentorship and STEM expertise.
The Learning Lab is not just a place of confluence for STEM minds but also a gathering place for communities from many paths to combine our stories of science, education, resilience, accessibility, art and even mental health.
Being around water is proven to be healthy for us. With the current state of mental health challenges, the time is now to connect people, kids and adults alike, with water and wildlife. Like water shaping jagged rock into smooth stones, being in, near, or around water can take the “edge” off of us. By bringing learners of all ages and backgrounds together at the Learning Lab, our classroom on the water’s edge, we’re forming a healthier, more creative and more connected community.
Will you join me at the confluence by contributing to our education programs and the Learning Lab? Together, we will create a living classroom on the Charleston Harbor and foster future leaders for generations to come.
If you ever doubt what your contribution can do, I encourage you to stand with me on the entrance ramp to the Aquarium and observe what happens when kids and adults alike engage with water — that’s the true power of the Learning Lab.
Hear more from Brian on the power of the Learning Lab.