SeaWorld’s new Ocean Link Lab encourages San Diego middle school students to explore the ocean, as well as themselves, during a day-long experience at the park. The program, a collaboration of SeaWorld’s education and conservation department, the San Diego Unified School District and the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP), leads students through a variety of activities to learn about SeaWorld careers, the animal rescue program and the science of caring for animals in the park and the wild.Immersed in the science of SeaWorld, educators hope students leave inspired to act on what they learn. The program is part of the Linked Learning and California Career Pathway Trust initiatives, giving students project-based lessons in animal observation, ocean debris, sustainable fishing and more, which connect school lessons in STEM fields to real-world situations. Students gain access to insider areas of the park, getting up close and personal with animals in SeaWorld’s rescue center, monitoring the behaviors of orcas from a backstage view, and getting an opportunity to touch bamboo sharks, horseshoe crabs and rays. The lessons are interactive, gameified and rooted in environmental and personal exploration. Throughout the day, students are asked to identify the myriad jobs available in the park. That conversation culminates with an afternoon activity identifying each student’s strengths, interests and values and connecting those with real careers at SeaWorld and beyond.
On April 26, SDWP staff joined a class from Wilson Middle School to experience the lab for themselves. “I am so proud to have been a part of the planning and development of SeaWorld’s Ocean Link Lab,” says SDWP Project Coordinator Erika Aranguré. “We need more opportunities like these to showcase the vast amount of career opportunities there are in the life sciences in a fun, but educational environment.”
SeaWorld’s Ocean Link Lab is currently in the pilot phase, serving 200 students from Wilson, Mann, and Knox middle schools during the first seven sessions, with plans to open up to more middle school students this fall.