When you think about the science education of yesteryear, you likely envision a classroom, a textbook, and a lecture. While in-school STEM education is an incredible resource, what if students could venture into the world and touch, see, and hear the topics? Thanks to the innovative folks at SPLASH, now you can.

SPLASH Delaware River Floating Classroom is an innovative approach to STEM education, allowing students to enjoy hands-on experiences and participate in science education in a fun, engaging setting. SPLASH, which stands for Students Participating in Learning Aquatic Science and History, is a one-of-a-kind program that invites young and old learners to sail on the Delaware River and learn more about its complex and fascinating ecosystem. While setting sail with the SPLASH team, guests can look forward to an enhanced experience of the web of life in the River, from phytoplankton to American Shad and the Bald Eagle, exploring the human history of the area, and learning how to protect the beautiful Delaware River and its Watershed.

SPLASH recognizes the Delaware River’s role in our community and seeks to educate guests on its vital importance. From outdoor recreation to the very water we drink, the Delaware is an integral part of life for those lucky enough to live along its shores. SPLASH hopes to foster a sense of responsibility and pride by educating the community on the River’s function, empowering the next generation to steward this incredible natural resource.

At the moment, SPLASH is embarking on an exciting new journey, trading in their iconic steamboat for an all-new pontoon boat. While plans are still underway, this upgraded facility promises to bring STEM education to our community’s new generation of students. In the meantime, SPLASH is still offering hands-on workshops to students throughout the region, empowering camps, school groups, homeschooling co-ops, and more to immerse themselves in the world of the Delaware River. You can read more about current course and program offerings by visiting the SPLASH website here: Education – SPLASH.

Despite SPLASH undergoing these exciting changes, it remains faithful to the vision its founder, Dr. Hoebel, had over 20 years ago. Loretta Pregartner, President of Trustees at SPLASH, shared some information regarding how this program came to be: “Our founder, Dr. Bart Hoebel, found a steamboat and wanted to use it to reach out and educate people. He was a professor at Princeton University, so it was his nature to give back and teach constantly. He brought people out on the boat, took them down to the Delaware River, and taught them about water quality and how to keep the Delaware River safe and clean for years to come.” You can read more about Dr. Hoebel and his vision for the program on the SPLASH website here: Founder – SPLASH.

For the last several decades, SPLASH has been educating a diverse group of students from communities all along Delaware. In fact, per Eric Clark, Executive Director of SPLASH, many students that SPLASH serves are from right here in the Trenton community. Some Trenton-based organizations SPLASH has partnered with over many years, and some are new this year, including Urban Promise, the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County, the Mill Hill Child and Family Center, Hamilton YMCA Summer Camp, and many more. SPLASH offers students an avenue to engage in experiences they may have never had before, welcoming them to explore the wealth of resources in their backyard. In describing the value of these experiences to our community, Mr. Clark noted, “It is a privilege to learn and teach with the youth of Trenton; it is always a rewarding experience. And we are grateful to our friends and partners at The Watershed Institute and many funders in our region who support this work.”

Ms. Pregartner shared this sentiment: “Every child is our future, and they should have a great understanding of their environment and be able to touch and reach and appreciate nature. Just because they are so close to the Delaware River in Trenton does not mean they’ve ever really gotten to experience what the Delaware River is. Our board and entire organization are dedicated to partnering with organizations from emerging communities in Trenton. In our strategic plan, we state the intention to have about 50% of our students from Trenton and other emerging communities nearby, and we hope that as we continue forward, it will continue to rise. We can get to even more kids in that area.”

As SPLASH continues to engage the next generation of Watershed stewards, they need your help to continue to bring this vital program to students. If you want to be a part of these efforts, donations can be made towards the new vessel here: New Vessel Campaign. SPLASH offers an invaluable service to citizens all along Delaware. Now is your chance to give back to an organization that has given our community so much over the years. If you are interested in learning more about how you can become a volunteer or educator, please visit the SPLASH website to learn how to get started: Get Involved – SPLASH.

Exciting things are happening along the banks of the Delaware, and now is your chance to be a part of the fun. If you have any questions or want to learn more about the SPLASH program, please get in touch with their team at info@splashclassroom.org or (609) 737 3735 x 42 for additional details. Don’t delay; dive into the world of the Delaware with SPLASH today!


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