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CHICAGO – The Shedd Aquarium hopes to make a big splash in North Lawndale when it brings an immersive Aquatic Learning Opportunity to Douglass Park for the first time.

The program on Saturday is in partnership with the Firehouse Community Arts Center and is part of the Shedd’s Centennial Commitment, made possible in part due to a $1 million anchor grant from Bank of America.

WGN News Now spoke to Renee Birk, Assistant Director of Learning & Community at the Shedd Aquarium about the upcoming event.

“We’re actually bringing an underwater camera with us so students can see firsthand and eye-to-eye with nature and with wildlife that live in the pond at Douglass Park. And we’re going to allow them to do some water quality testing, and we’ll take some samples, and they’ll get to look at some tiny aquatic creatures that live in the water under microscopes,” said Birk. “But then after they do all of that, Firehouse Community Arts Center has an expertise in art, and so they are going to then be turning in all of the things they learned about the aquatic world into an art installation that they’ll bring back to the Firehouse center.”

The two-and-a-half-hour-long program focuses on water quality and the wonder of the aquatic animal world in park ponds.

“We actually did have the youth involved in designing the program and they helped us come up with the idea that we wanted to focus on the water and what lives in it and how healthy it is and what are the things they can do around it? So we’re very excited to be able to offer this first program. said Birk.

Saturday’s program runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and children must sign up through the Firehouse Community Arts Center to participate.

If you miss out on attending this one, Birk hopes the Shedd will be able to have similiar opportunities in other communities in the future.

“The Shedd is definitely looking at new ways to engage with other organizations in different communities to bring these hands-on immersive learning experiences off of the museum campus and into Chicago’s communities,” said Birk. “So, stay tuned because there will more things to come and will allow youth that are connected to lots of different organizations to have these experiences as well.”

You can find more information on the Shedd’s Learning programs here.

The Shedd Aquarium has also announced plans to offer several free admission days for Illinois residents in September.

Illinoisans who present a valid ID or proof of residency can access all of the aquarium’s exhibits on the following dates and times:

  •          Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •          Wednesday, Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  •          Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 12-14 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •          Monday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  •          Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 20-21 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •          Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 26-28 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Under the free general admission, visitors will also have the option to view an aquatic spotlight in the Abbot Oceanarium which features beluga whales, California sea lions, penguins and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

No onsite tickets will be available, and advanced reservations for free days must be made online.

You can find more details for planning a visit here.