North Beach Classroom Rehabilitation
The Sandy Hook Foundation has transformed a newly acquired indoor space into a hands-on learning resource that takes advantage of the unique coastal and ecological environment at Sandy Hook. Between 2.2 and 2.5 million people visit Sandy Hook each year, including an estimated 250,000 visitors to North Beach, where the classroom is located. The park hosts over 50,000 school children annually, with more than 20,000 of those attending formal environmental education programs at North Beach. Most school groups are from Central and North New Jersey, with some groups from Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.
Until now, there has been no classroom on Sandy Hook that is proximate to the dunes and beach. School groups and others have had to rely on clement weather and busses to explore the flora, fauna, and geo-science of this coastal ecosystem. SHF was able to access this space for dedicated use by educational partners within the park. The Foundation immediately began a process for rehabilitating the space and equipping it for educational purposes. Partner organizations, including the NJ Marine Science Consortium (NJMSC), Brookdale Community College are among those who have started daily programs in the improved space.
At North Beach installation of solar roof panels and associated interactive materials to inform students and beach-going visitors about the process of converting solar energy into electrical power was completed in 2009. The exhibit includes a computerized monitor indicating the strength of the sun and the amount of energy generated.
The classroom had to meet National Park Service required safety codes and defined rehabilitation and restoration building policies. Under NPS supervision, a water line has been brought to the sight and a slop sink installed for wet lab use. Fans for proper air circulation, screen doors, emergency safety exits with mandated hardware have been installed. Brookdale Community College has provided tables, chairs and storage closets; New Jersey Marine Science Consortium is providing spotting scopes for shore bird viewing, microscopes, and other classroom equipment. The Foundation would also like to thank Investors Savings Bank for their contribution to the Sandy Hook Foundation in support of the classroom. We hope to further upgrade the classroom by providing heat so it may remain open for longer time spans during the year.