Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Daniel C. Abel


Aquariums have often been utilized as a source for educating the public about wild animals, conservations issues, and captive animal care. These institutions have been viewed as effective venues for passing along this information to the public and influencing visitors' willingness to participate in conservation activities. Little research has been conducted to evaluate aquarium education effectiveness; it has always been assumed that aquarium's informal education activities were successful. Surveys were conducted at the National Aquarium in Baltimore at three exhibits, all of which were centered on the "Wings in the Water" exhibit, which was incorporated as part of the new SharkQuest display that opened in mid-March 2003. The design of the exhibit varied based on the presentation of "shows" or the presence of exhibit guides. Educational effectiveness was measured as an increase in knowledge about the exhibit topic, as reported by the visitors, and by positive survey responses. Results showed a significant increase in knowledge and that the visitors felt they were learning meaningful information, evidence that the NAIB is effective at educating its visitors, at least in the short term.