“Marine graduation” is celebrated at Primorsky Aquarium

“Marine graduation” is celebrated at Primorsky Aquarium

 “Marine graduation” has been a significant event for the Primorsky Aquarium. The conference hall was packed with graduates of all five stages of the Growing up at the Aquarium environmental education project, their parents, students of the Crystal Bridge individualized education programs and the staff members of the Primorsky Aquarium who contributed to the Growing up at the Aquarium project. The project involved more than 50 children and teens aged from 5 to 17.

The event has become regular for Growing up at the Aquarium graduates and those from other programs, like Crystal Bridge.

The Crystal Bridge individualized education programs were launched in 2018 and there were 15 alumni in total. Marina Maslova, Senior Specialist of the Education Department, was the person who came up with the idea of the project: to use the Aquarium’s exhibits and classrooms as a comfortable environment to boost development and cultivate curiosity in children with disabilities.

Irina Vashchenko, head of the Crystal Bridge individualized education programs and the Sea Guardians ecology club (the 2nd stage of the Growing up at the Aquarium project), Principal Specialist of the Education Department: “It has been a traditional graduation event, a really great celebration for all, including members of the Education Department. This year’s graduates are two brothers who tried hard to complete their Crystal Bridge programs and get their diplomas and gifts.

Sea Guardians also did their best during this school year and really deserved their certificates and presents. The second instructor of this stage, Aleksandra Alyoshina, and I are proud that our efforts to engage the students in learning about the surrounding world and in protecting it were successful.”

A board game called “The Timeline” attracted special attention of the audience. The game was created by a member of the Ichthyology Club Artyom Varenko. The work was guided by Aleksandra Alyoshina, Senior Specialist of the Education Department. The talented student received a big round of applause when the newly produced game was presented to him.

The youngest project members, Belyok club’s graduates, and their instructors told the guests about their year achievements and, in the best traditions of Belyok, showed their new animation movie “A journey of a fringed blenny” with the lovely voice acting from the kids.

Scientific content is very important for Growing up at the Aquarium, and experts in biology and ecology, including aquarists and keepers of the Primorsky Aquarium, take part in the programs of the project. Kids learn about different careers while assuming the role of an aquarist, a diver and others.

Tatiana Chernykh, Cand.Sci.(Pedag.), Principal Specialist of the Education Department and head of the 1st stage, Belyok environmental biology club, expressed her gratitude to those staff members of the Primorsky Aquarium who spared their valuable time to support Growing up at the Aquarium programs.


“They lend us their hand in developing lessons, share their experience and run demonstrations of marine organisms they work with. Owing to their participation, our programs become unique and full of knowledge. Aquarists and keepers, trainers of marine mammals and divers are all eager to assist us in our work with children. We even managed to arrange a role-playing program on architecture, and our students learned about designing complex structures and drew public aquarium buildings.”

Every stage is focused on specific study areas. For instance, the students of the 3rd stage, Ichthyology Club, build ecosystems in aquariums and learn how to imitate natural environment and fine-tune its conditions to create a safe and comfortable habitat for aquatic organisms.

“Our lessons help to raise caring and compassionate children, able to create harmonious ecosystems both in aquariums and in their own lives. This kind of experience contributes to creating the next generation of ocean protectors,” said Ekaterina Raevskaya, Senior Specialist of the Education Department and head of the Ichthyology Club.

Mikhail Kornienko, Head of the Environmental Education Division, noted,

“The project is getting more and more popular, and we are going to establish more stages. We have already tested a Researcher stage for school students of all ages. Next year we are going to open a new Walruses stage for 12–13-year-old students. The last school year was very productive for the participants. Our young scientists took part in competitions and conferences and won first prizes even in several all-Russian conferences.”

As we previously reported, three members of the fifth stage, AQUAlaboratory, were awarded the first prizes at the 20th International Youth Environmental MAN AND THE BIOSPHERE Conference. AQUAlaboratory members also entered the Vernadsky National Student Research Project Contest this year and became its laureates. Lyubov Gliznutsa, Cand.Sci. (Biol.), Lead Specialist of the Education Department and head of the AQUAlaboratory, said that 12 students graduated from the AQUAlaboratory in 2023 and that the total number of alumni of this stage was 76.

“We nurture curiosity and curiosity-driven questioning in children and develop their scientific thinking. The Aquarium affords limitless opportunities for running theoretical, practical and laboratory programs, and there are lots of places on Russky Island where we can conduct ecological field research and outdoor programs on paleontology. Our students successfully present their research projects at conferences and contests. We think it is important to give children deep fundamental knowledge combined with practical skills in biology, so that they could understand the fragility and preciousness of life,” added Lyubov.