Recently my family and I visited the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. This has been on our Cleveland to-do list for a while.
We loved our trip to the Aquarium. It took us about 2-2.5 hours to go through it. We stopped at most of the exhibits and saw fish from different regions we had never seen before. The regional and location based layout helps the children learn that different fish live in different areas and their unique adaptations to their environment. Also, it’s a great way to teach children that our world is bigger than the community we live in.
I helped my twins learn about the fish there by allowing them to show us what they were excited about while balancing it with my desire to stop at as many exhibits as possible. I wanted to examine the intricacies of the fish and marine life on display. I read through or summarized as many of the descriptions as possible so my twins could better understand what they were looking at and why it’s important. I also leveraged the descriptions to ask my children questions about the things that interested them the most.
I enjoyed the videos and exhibits integrated into the museum to help us understand the impact of our choices on the environment and how we can better keep our lakes and rivers clean. This was one of the things that I used to help teach my twins to understand how we can each do our part to protect the environment and the animals.
As a person who likes to maximize the local travel experience, I also love the focus on native Ohio sea life at the beginning of the Aquarium. I love to learn more about the wildlife and habits in the communities near me.
There were so many cool exhibits, and I would recommend that families stop by the stingray pool. It is so cool to touch and feel these amazing creatures up close. Prior to this visit I had preconceived notions about stingrays and admittedly, I was excited yet afraid to put my hand in the water. My twins were also excited yet apprehensive about reaching in the water to touch the stingray. However, this provided a beautiful opportunity for us to conquer our fears and do it afraid. It was so much fun and we talked about how easy/hard it was to touch the stingray and what the stingray felt like.
I also recommend talking to the staff at the Aquarium to ask questions. When we visited we were fortunate to be there when one of the divers was in front of the shark exhibit. We learned so much about the sharks on exhibit and about myths vs facts about sharks. We even saw shark teeth and got to take some shark teeth home with us.
I asked my twins what their favorite parts of the Aquarium were and here is what they said:
- The sharks because they were big. The smaller sharks weren’t scary and were kind of friendly.
- The old man fish (the fish one of the Associates said looks like an old man), upside down swimming fish, the sharks, and the turtle with the stinky gas.
In addition to attending the Aquarium, we took advantage of the Aquarium’s location in the Flats. The Flats have amazing bridges, and fortunately that day we saw three bridges rise to let boats pass. This was very exciting because my mom and I explained how the bridges work (which was a nice bonus STEAM lesson) and my twins saw big boats sail by (which is always exciting). We saw the Goodtime III sail by, which reminded me that this is an experience I want to share with my children. The Goodtime III was a staple of my childhood because that was a frequent summer camp excursion.
One of the things that I wished that we did was go to a restaurant in the Flats. The Flats look so different from when I was a child. There are so many cool restaurants that I wish I could have tried with my children. I would recommend pairing your Aquarium visit with a visit to a nearby restaurant.
I also recommend parents use the Aquarium exhibits to engage in meaningful discussions with your children. For example, the location specific focus can spark discussions about other parts of the world. Here are a few questions to ask your children and ideas to guide the discussion.
- Based on what they saw, where would they most want to travel and why?
- Which animal was their favorite and why? (You may get some hilarious responses especially if the turtle that releases the stinky gas is a favorite)
- If your child expresses interest in a certain area of the world, continue the learning at the Cleveland Zoo and Cleveland Art Museum to learn more about animals and art in that particular region.
- There is a cool exhibit for how scientists are looking at marine life and their adaptations to see how to create new scientific breakthroughs. Ask your children about those adaptations and how they can help produce new scientific breakthroughs.
I hope this helps you to plan your visit to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium! Please leave a comment to let me know how this helps you.