BY BERRY NEGRÓN
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Environmental Education Center has become the perfect place for children big and small to learn new skills right by the water.
Located inside of the Brooklyn Bridge Park, this education center was one of the first areas opened to the public inside of the park since its expansion. Opened to the public in 2015, the educational center provides programs that are both free and of low cost, and are dedicated to teaching children from the age of 3 until 18 about nature and infrastructure, specifically by the waters on the East River, which is next to the center’s location.
Most activities are very hands-on to allow for in depth learning and to understand how nature works the way it does.
“There’s just a general understanding of how the activities get treated, being diligent about putting things back where they belong, and just being able to engage in the activities at a higher level,” said Anabelle Poisson, who works alongside the children in the program.
The inside of the educational center is filled with bright colors and activity tables. There are also several fish tanks, some loaded with multiple aquatic animals, and others designated for one or two reptilians. Above each tank has a card to give more details about the beings inside, which makes for a mix of entertainment and information.
The tables are housed in different projects, and young children in particular tend to enjoy these activities. With the help of their designated caretaker, they work together to understand and engage while figuring out how they function. There is a new theme per month, and the theme for this month was Ecology.
The tables had an assortment of things to learn and play with, such as a “Tornado Tube,” which is food colored water in two plastic bottles and meant to be swirled and shaken up to see motions that mimic a tornado (this was a popular table that the kids were at). The children’s program runs all year round, while the program centered around teens allow them to sign up for both the Fall and Spring.
Marley Kern, the head overseer of the programs, both agree that the use of interactive activities plays a key role in how the children adapt to their environment, how they treat the toys they are given, and how many people return to the program.
“The people in here right now, there are some that we do know my name or others that we can at least recognize. During the week, we get a lot of returners, and on the weekends we get more new families, which is nice. And since we get a lot of returning families, we switch out the themes each month to make sure that they get to learn new things,” Kern said.
The children’s program runs all year round, while the program centered around teens allow them to sign up for both the Fall and Spring.Their involvement includes weekly projects in the Brooklyn Bridge Park to help serve and learn while being outdoors.
The Environmental Education Center is free to visit during their open hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and also take donations to allow these programs to keep running.