Carol J. and Barney Barnett Learning Center

Stewardship of the environment through education

Since March 1995, The Florida Aquarium's Education Department has been opening eyes to the world outside! In keeping with our mission to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment, the Aquarium opened a modern, high-tech learning center in October 2014.

This ground breaking Learning Center helps us take marine and environmental science to the next level through active learning.


The Barnetts

Carol J. and Barney Barnett are committed to providing enriching educational experiences and opportunities to Tampa Bay area youths, and through that belief, they generously donated a lead gift of $1 million to make this dream a reality.

Our Facility

The Learning Center features a unique design spanning 5,000 square feet and featuring five flexible learning spaces centered around a circular common space. Each learning space has a unique design that will provide inspiration for learning.

Technology is also an integral tool that expands learning for students. Each space features a 70-inch Mondopad touch screen computer that can function as a traditional computer or as an application-based tablet. Each Mondopad also has a camera, which also allows for collaboration via the internet with students in other places around the country.

Impactful Learning

Our Education team is takes school field trips to the next level through a themed learning experience call Operation Tango. Using storytelling as a tool to immerse students in the natural environment and a sea turtle as an animal ambassador, students will help Aquarium researchers find Tango, a female loggerhead sea turtle that was expected to return to her native beach to lay eggs.

Tango hasn’t arrived, and it’s the students’ job to help figure out what happened. Traveling through three learning spaces, the students will learn about adult turtle nesting behavior, life in the open ocean, and sea turtle conservation.

learning center florida aquarium classroomThe fourth learning space is a dedicated laboratory featuring electric adjustable tables, an industrial forensic design, scientific equipment, and technology including iPad minis that connect to water quality probes to measure the chemical properties of water.

The final space is designed for pre-kindergarten through first grade students.

In My Backyard, is designed to resemble a typical Tampa Bay backyard complete with a live oak tree! Students will explore local habitats and learn about animals that live in this region.

All spaces have the ability to accommodate school children, scouts, birthday parties, sleepovers, teacher workshops, and more!