BY KELSEY SANTOS
For New York City kids who can’t get enough of the environment and the earth around them, there’s the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center. Located in DUMBO, the center is open a few times a week and on weekends and provides a fun and interactive space for people of all ages to learn more about the environment.
Two iconic displays are housed in the Conservancy’s Environmental Center along with several interactive features. The discovery station includes interactive modules that provide a detailed look at the park’s ecology and sustainable architecture, while the East River Aquarium features a touch tank and exhibits marine life from the New York Harbor.
“The goal is to develop a relationship with the environment,” said Marley Kern, a greeter of the Environmental Education Center. “It’s more like how can we connect with people, especially kids who live in such an urban area with nature because it can be difficult to do that.”
Every month, the center changes the theme based on the environmental season. For the remainder of the fall season, the theme is weather.
On a recent afternoon in the center of the space, guardians and children were engaging with modules that helped them learn about different clouds, leaves, different types of weather and how to distinguish them from each other. A few of the many other nature themes the center provides are insects, pollinators, rocks, birds, plants, and the history of the Waterfront.
“The Conservancy wants to have an open space to the public,” Kern continued. “But we also do field trips so during the day we’d have school groups come and we’ll do different program themes depending on what the teacher picks.”
The school program is for students from grades K-8. The grades are divided into 10 different categories based on the level of knowledge with math, english, and science. The different categories include learning and examining different parts of the Brooklyn Bridge Park such as trees, oyster gardens, the East River, ecology, the health of the park, and more.
“I bring my child here all the time when we have free time after school. It’s fun here with so many toys and live animals like the turtles, fishes, and it really has extended his knowledge with science,” said Sophia Parnell, who visited the center recently “I also enjoy this nostalgic feeling with all the science stuff.”
Parnell brought her 5-year-old child Blake to continue to expand his knowledge after school. She shared that including the Environmental Education Center in their routine is what helps Blake improve his knowledge about the environment.
“It’s smart that they change the themes every month because within that month, bringing the child here constantly is how they’ll remember what they’ve learned while coming here,” said Parnell. “He always looks forward to seeing the turtle. His favorite with this theme is also drawing the different clouds and identifying them.”
Brooklyn Bridge Park and The Conservancy collaborate to make sure the park realizes its full potential as a dynamic and lively public area for everyone in Brooklyn, New York City and beyond. The conservancy’s free public activities have been enjoyed by more than 1.6 million visitors since 2000.