More area schools will be able to incorporate an educational IMAX® movie at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk into their lessons, thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation.

The new Hoffman IMAX Scholarship Fund enables the aquarium to provide eligible schools with the opportunity to receive full or partial funding for a visit to Norwalk to see an IMAX movie.

"IMAX films are awe-inspiring. They impact the emotions. They ignite the imagination and prompt youngsters to ask simple questions with life-changing possibilities," said Jamie Dickinson, the aquarium's deputy director of development. "We're very grateful to the Hoffman Foundation for helping the aquarium to share this exciting way to learn with students who might otherwise be unable to afford it."

IMAX films have long been favorites for teachers and students alike. In the IMAX format, science- and nature-based films are presented with unsurpassed brightness and picture clarity. When shown on the aquarium's six-story screen, combined with the intensity of a 10,000-watt digital proprietary surround-sound system, the result is an immersive "IMAX Experience®."

"There are many, many IMAX movies that appeal to teachers, especially when the theme and content fulfill a curriculum goal or learning objective," Dickinson said. "In fact, most IMAX movies are released with an accompanying curriculum full of educational activities that can be undertaken in the classroom before and after a viewing."

Together with a visit to the aquarium, these experiences inspire young students to learn more, become scientists, expand their horizons and protect the environment.

However, Dickinson said, "It is increasingly evident that schools from underserved districts are having more and more trouble providing access to these kinds of experiences. The cost of transportation, admission and a movie can be prohibitive for the most deserving students and teachers. That's where the Hoffman IMAX Scholarship Fund will help."

Based in West Hartford, the Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation was founded in 1983 by Marion O. Hoffman, whose husband, Maximilian, was one of the first distributors of foreign automobiles in the United States. It supports charities in the areas of medicine, education and the arts, primarily in Connecticut but also across the United States.

The IMAX movies currently showing at The Maritime Aquarium (through March 3, 2011) are "Island of the Sharks" and "Everest." Over the holidays, the aquarium will add two Hollywood films digitally re-mastered into the IMAX format: "The Polar Express" and "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows."

To inquire about eligibility for the Hoffman IMAX Scholarship Fund, or for other questions about the Maritime Aquarium's movies, exhibits or programs, call 203-852-0700.