SeaTrek Programs

Our SeaTrek programs come to your location with supplies, activities, and sometimes, even a special guest. Choose from a wide variety of classes and activities on marine topics.

SeaTreks are 45-60 minute sessions that include PowerPoint presentations and student activities, presented at your location. The cost is $60 for the first session of a particular program and $40 for each additional session of the same program on the same day.

Please view classes and descriptions. Once you have a desired SeaTrek in mind(or multiple SeaTreks!), please fill out our online SeaTrek Reservation Form.

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Program Descriptions

Program Summary

"More than sand between my toes"

Audience: Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Adult

The sandy beach environment is introduced to the audience through a series of images of sand, waves, tides, animals, and a definition of a beach. The emphasis, science and depth of the discussion increases with the age of the audience.

Elementary School activities

  • Animals found at the beach
  • Survival utilizing debris that might wash up on the beach
  • Digging for objects found on the beach

Middle School through adult activities

  • Wave formation
  • Components of sand
  • Beaches of New Hampshire
  • Sands of the world

Take away concepts

  • How beaches are formed and the variations of sand that exist within a beach
  • How beaches respond to natural forces and what influences the coastline
  • How organisms that inhabit the beach survive
  • How plants and animals adapt to the beach environment
  • How human activity impacts beaches
  • How we can enjoy beaches and help protect them

sea stars in jars

Audience: Pre-school, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Adults

Sea stars are one of the most popular invertebrates that live on the ocean floor, but they also have many interesting relatives and cousins. These include the slippery sea cucumbers, the spiny sea urchins, the rigid sand dollars, the brittle sea stars and the feathery crinoids.

Members of this phylum have spiny skins and arms or rays in multiples of five, although some sea stars are known to have as many as 45 arms or rays.

The 45 minute programs includes a visual presentation followed by hands-on activities that allow participants to come up close and personal with some of the creatures. Emphasis is on how these organisms adapt to their environment, how they feed, survive in the ocean, as well as avoid predators and ensure their future.

Echinoderm Coloring Pages

Horseshoe crabs in the Great Bay Estuary

We offer two programs on the Great Bay Estuary. One targeted for the K-6th grade audience and the other for 7th graders to adults.

Audience: Grades K-6

The Great Bay Estuary has played a defining role in New Hampshire's history and economy since 1623, but how does the estuary itself work, and what kinds of creatures call it home? This interactive program uses props, short video clips, and illustrative photos to show students how different plants and animals survive in one of earth's most challenging environments (imagine your house being flooded and drained twice each day).

We introduce the Great Bay Estuary's three main habitats: eel grass meadows, mud flats, and salt marshes, and then challenge students to explain the different adaptations found in each. Why are the legs of a great blue heron different from those of an osprey? What does a clam do exactly when there's no water left at low tide? How can marsh grass grow in such salty water? 

Following the 15 to 18-minute PowerPoint presentation on the Great Bay Estuary and its relationship to the coastal watershed, students rotate through two (or sometimes three) hands-on activities which could include:

  • an up close and personal encounter with a live horseshoe crab
  • a hands-on exercise that visually illustrates what a watershed is, how different sources of pollution can affect it, and the positive effects of vegetative buffer zones
  • a history portion about salt marsh haying and how the antique tools were used
  • a tower exercise representing the estuarine ecosystem and the effects of different kinds of pollution on the health of the estuary
  • a guessing game exercise that reinforces the extreme lengths of time it takes for different polluting objects to be reabsorbed into the environment

Audience: Grades 7-12, Adult

In a PowerPoint presentation we introduce the audience to the estuary and watershed concepts and how everyone living in a watershed area affects the health of that watershed, in this case the Great Bay Estuary.  This estuary is a fascinating environment consisting of three main habitats which are affected twice daily by the tidal flow.  During the presentation we address the following questions:

  • What are some of the plants and animals that live in the estuary?
  • How have they adapted to this fluctuating environment?
  • What happens to the estuary in the event of an oil spill or heavy rain?
  • What are some examples of estuary pollutants?

Discussion involves the science behind the factors which affect the health of the estuary over time.  Students are introduced to projects underway to restore estuary habitats to a more healthy condition (eelgrass and oyster reef restoration).

Hands-on activities following could include:

  • Estuary metaphors (a box of cereal is like the estuary because...)
  • Match-ups (Average salinity = 26 ppt; Freshwater input/Saltwater input = 17%, 83%)

Why whales have leg bones

Research has shown that children form explanations of nature by ages 7 and 8, and that children as young as 5 can readily understand natural selection.* This SeaTrek is an introduction to marine-based evolution for grades K-3. It teaches the basic concepts of genetic variation and natural selection on a level easily understood by the K-3 age group.

The program begins with a mystery: why do whales have hind leg bones in their skeletons? In the quest to solve the mystery, the children learn what genes are, how genes can change, how those changes can lead to new species, and how scientists use the fossil record to learn about the history of life. Two vocabulary words are introduced: "genes" —not to be confused with "jeans"; and "mutation"—careful to say "myou" and not "moo" like a cow! Both words are reinforced throughout the program.

The 20-minute interactive presentation uses graphics and a 1-minute video in PowerPoint. Children then spend 20-25 minutes in small groups rotating through three hands-on activities: 1) fossil examination and drawing using real Orthoceras fossils; 2) sand scooping to give the child a physical experience of the concept of deep time; and 3) a hawks-and-mice game demonstrating natural selection in action.

Evolution is the basis for all the life sciences. With this fun, funny, and accessible introduction to evolution's basic concepts, the youngest students can begin making sense of the life around them, and, more importantly, ask informed questions about why life is the way it is.

Good to know: 1) This program does not overlap with the Whales SeaTrek; and 2) We do not introduce the terms "evolution" or "natural selection" in the program.

"This program was so fun I wish it could go on and on and on and on!"
--3rd grader at The Cornerstone School, Stratham

*See http://www.bu.edu/cdl/files/2014/02/Kelemen_et_al_Natural_Selectionplussupp.pdf
and http://www.bu.edu/cdl/ccl/our-research/

Student fish printing

Photo courtesy of Mike Ross

Gyotaku (Japanese 魚拓, from gyo "fish" + taku "rubbing") is a traditional form of Japanese fish printing or rubbing, dating from the mid-19th century, a form of nature printing used by fishermen to record their catches.

In order to make a gyotaku print, one places the subject (e.g. fish, crab, scallop shell) on a wooden bench and paints one side with sumi ink. Next a piece of paper or other material is laid over the ink-covered fish. Finally, one rubs the material until there is the image of the fish on it.

Modern gyotaku artists often substitute acrylic or other painting material for the traditional sumi-e. Gyotaku is also practiced as a form of art, and is very popular among young children both in Japan and Western countries. Sometimes, rubber fish replicas are used.

Definition courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Our UNH Marine Docent take the Lobster SeaTrek on the road to Dover and Sandown, NH.

Audience: Elementary School

The life-cycle of a lobster is explored through a series of images in this dynamic program. The history of harvesting lobsters is outlined and the process of catching lobsters in traps is demonstrated for the audience.

Participants have the opportunity to examine lobster traps, handle a live lobster and learn how lobstermen measure and band lobsters for the market.

Through discussion, participants are encouraged to consider the balance between protecting the lobster species, providing a livelihood for lobstermen and ensuring that we continue to enjoy this delicacy from the sea.

http://www.lobsters.org/

Lobster Coloring Page

Audiences: Pre-school, Elementary School, Middle School, Adults

N.H. Curriculum Framework Strands: LS-1, LS-2, LS-3

Ocean Literacy Principles:

  1. The earth has one big ocean with many features.
  2. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
  3. The oceans and humans are inextricably connected.

Program Summary

This engaging program begins with a PowerPoint presentation that illustrates the characteristics and physical and behavioral adaptations of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Docents interact with participants by asking questions and encouraging thoughtful discussion.

Participants explore the similarities and differences among whales, dolphins, porpoises and the special adaptations that allow for finding food, breathing and staying warm in the Atlantic sea water through several hands on activities.

These hands-on activities are offered to participants in small groups. The activities help students to compare the sizes of whales, investigate the feeding techniques of baleen and toothed whales, understand sound and echolocation, learn how whales keep warm, and become familiar with physical features of different whales.

Program Outline

  • Introduction
    • Introduction to Gulf of Maine
    • Characteristics of mammals
    • Characteristics of marine mammals
    • Varieties of marine mammals 
  • Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises (Cetaceans)
    • Variety of sizes
    • Adaptations
      • Breathing
      • Moving through water
      • Keeping warm
    • Feeding
      • Baleen whales - lunge feeding, bubble net
      • Toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises - echolocation
  • Risks to whales
    • What can we do to protect whales and our ocean?

Program Activities

The activities described below will afford pupils the opportunity to enhance their understanding of concepts presented during the PowerPoint presentation by participating in hands-on experiences and guided discussions in small groups

Big, Bigger, Biggest (relative lengths of various whales)

Using a tape measure marked at intervals representing the lengths of different whales, pupils will match whale images with the appropriate length.

Which is Which (Whale Models)

Pupils will discuss differences in appearance, feeding habits, coloration and size; will classify whales as baleen or toothed and will locate different body parts.

Dinner Time (feeding habits of baleen and toothed whales)

Working with a variety of objects such as combs and clothespins, pupils will understand the feeding habits of baleen and toothed whales. They will also identify baleen and toothed whales and compare the sizes of each group.

Keeping Warm

The sea is a chilly place to live. Whales are well prepared for this with a thick layer of fat called "blubber". Pupils will take turns putting a "blubber glove" on one hand while leaving the other hand unprotected. Both hands are then submerged in bowl of ice water. Each student will be asked to describe his or her experience.

Who Goes There? (sound and echolocation - finding food in the dark)

The sea is not only cold; it can also be very dark depending on depth below the surface. Whales need a way to identify sources of food that they are unable to see. Pupils will understand how this is accomplished in this hands-on activity, using a slinky and tuning forks.

Audience: Kindergarten, Elementary
Length: 45 minutes

Octopus

Did you know that octopuses are masters of camouflage, able to change their color, shape, and texture in the blink of an eye? They are also amazingly intelligent, able to use tools and solve a variety of problems.

This captivating program uses pictures, brief video clips, and props to teach kids the basics about octopuses (anatomy, size, diet, habitat, predators) and to explore their intelligence and wide range of defenses (methods of camouflage, squirting ink, and jet propulsion).

Kids get to learn a new word, "chromatophore," and how the chromatophore works to change an octopus's skin color instantly. There's even a short song about the chromatophore.

Following the 20-minute interactive presentation, kids get up and participate in two hands-on activities that reinforce the concepts in the presentation.

Audience: Grades 4 - 8

Program Summary

Plate Tectonics is the most exciting geologic discovery of the 20th Century! Geologists and oceanographers are continuing to make new discoveries every year. This science is unfolding before our eyes today.

Volcanoes! Earthquakes! Tsunamis! Enormous forces burst out of the earth and create havoc and destruction. Learn why these catastrophes happen and where they are likely to occur in the future. The Plate Tectonics SeaTrek will explore the ever-moving surface of our dynamic planet: Earth.

Although the surface of the earth appears to be rigid and stationary, scientists have found that it is constantly in motion. The surface is broken into large slabs or plates that are moved around by heat energy from the interior of the planet. The plates spread apart and come together, creating ocean basins, mountain ranges, volcanic islands--all the major geologic features that we see today. The movements of the plates are very slow--barely an inch or so per year. But over the billions of years of Earth's history, the surface has constantly been transformed.

Plate Tectonics presents the key elements of this scientific concept that has revolutionized our understanding of the dynamic planet upon which we live.

Program Outline

This program emphasizes student involvement. A brief introduction challenges students to think about what causes volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. After explaining the basic scientific theory, students are asked questions pertaining to important plate tectonics topics to think about as the presentation proceeds.

A PowerPoint presentation provides visual evidence of ongoing plate movements while being complemented by a series of hands-on activities to maintain interest. These activities include:

  • A timeline rope with tags marking important events from Earth's formation to the present day.
  • A global map puzzle.
  • A global plate puzzle.
  • An inflatable globe with plate boundary markings.
  • A model showing the breakup of the supercontinent, Pangea, 200 million years ago to the current continental locations.
  • A volcano visual aid.
  • Two models showing how these gigantic plates move. The plate motions cause earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis as shown in the pictures.
  • Finally, the questions asked at the beginning are reviewed with student participation

Resources

  • The Earth, an Introduction to Physical Geology. Tarbuck/Lutgens (2nd edition)
  • Roadside Geology of Vermont and New Hampshire. Bradford B. Van Diver
  • Written in Stone. Chet and Maureen Raymo
  • After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America. Pielou, E. C.
  • Geology of the Isles of Shoals. Katherine Fowler-Billings
  • The Geology of the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire. Robert F. Novotny
  • Plate Tectonics - The Way the Earth Works (for grades 6-8) Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley

Audiences: Pre-school, Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, and Adults.
NH Frameworks: Sections: LS1-1, LS2-3

Program can be tailored to the age and academic background of the students. To enhance the presentation's effectiveness, it is very helpful if the lead teacher at the school contacts one of the program presenters to help ascertain target areas. The focus of the 45-minute Rocky Shore Program can be either Seaweeds or Invertebrate Animals. If the school would like to have both presentations, we then recommend two sessions or a 90-minute period.

Program Summary

Spanning the area between the low and high tide lines, the intertidal zone of the rocky shore of the New England seacoast is an ecological treasure trove of organisms whose survival is challenged by a variety of extreme conditions including crashing waves, hours of exposure to air, temperature and salinity fluctuations, and predation from both land and sea. Yet even in these conditions there is a rich variety of marine organisms that have adapted well to this ecosystem.

A Power Point presentation sets the stage for understanding the organisms and the ecological interactions that impact this dynamic ecosystem. Participants then have the opportunity for detailed examination and handling of many of the common live seaweeds and invertebrates that inhabit the different areas of the intertidal zone between the low and high tide lines. In addition to seeing a diversity of red, green and brown seaweeds, students will also get to observe such organisms as snails (periwinkles and dog whelks), sea stars, sea urchins, and green & Asian shore crabs, among others. Through their encounters with these intertidal organisms, students will be encouraged to observe and discuss the adaptations of each organism that help ensure that it remains moist, feeds adequately, avoids predators and stays put amid tides and crashing waves.

Program Outline

(for either a 45-minute or 90-minute presentation)

  1. Part 1: Power Point presentation
  2. Activity: Hands-on observation of Seaweeds and/or Invertebrates.
  3. Part 2: Wrap up, or if time permits, a discussion of the tidal phenomenon.

Audience: Middle School

The SCUBA SeaTrek is a wonderful introduction to physical science that is relevant to underwater study and exploration. Participants rotate between two stations with hands-on activities, demonstrations, equipment display, and a short video.

Concepts covered in the SeaTrek include:

  • Boyle's Law
  • Compression of gases versus liquids
  • Effect of pressure and depth
  • Buoyancy and Archimedes principle
  • Heat transfer
  • Hypothermia

Audience: Pre-K through Adult

Sea chanteys are fun songs, but in the old days of the tall-masted sailing ships they were the work songs by which the sailors labored in unison to hoist the sails, haul up the anchor and pump the bilge. It was exhausting work, icy cold in the Arctic gales, sweaty in the tropic calms. But the chanteys (from the French verb, "to sing") told tales of high adventure - of harpooned whales that dragged them on a "Nantucket sleigh ride," of pirates they fought on the high seas, of girls they wooed in ports around the globe. For hard-bitten men, they were great romantics!

It is the special joy of the Chantey Singers to bring alive the folklore of the great days of sail - politics, economics, science and fun, all in one rousing package!

Previous Sea Chantey audiences:

  • Elementary and middle schools throughout the Seacoast and beyond
  • Public libraries
  • Retirement communities and nursing homes
  • Civic, professional and community groups

The choice of songs are customized for the age range of the audience.

Chantey Sampler

Basic: Grades K-2
Intermediate: Grades 3-5
Advanced: Grades 6-8

Seaweeds are the garden of the sea. Students see, touch and taste these fascinating marine algae that range from tiny one-celled plants to tall kelp. Seaweeds are used in many of our foods and are vital to the ocean food chain.

The Seaweed Program combines hands-on activities for the students with explanations of the principle characteristics of seaweeds and their role in the marine ecosystem. Samples of many types of seaweeds are collected before the session so that the students can see and touch many different species.

Program Outline

The Seaweed program begins with a discovery session. Students have small bowls with a variety of seaweed samples and are encouraged to study the samples and figure out the differences among them in terms of color, texture and size.

Then, a presentation is given emphasizing these key topics:

  • Classification of seaweeds as aquatic plants called algae.
  • Comparison of seaweeds with land plants.
  • Explanation of Photosynthesis as a source of algae nourishment and the production of excess oxygen.
  • Location of various seaweeds in the tidal zones of the seashore.
  • Description of the major types of seaweeds – brown, red and green.
  • The value of seaweeds in the marine ecosystem including the production of oxygen and as food and shelter for marine animals.

The presentation is interactive and uses Q&A to involve the students.

  • After the presentation, students perform several reinforcement activities:
  • A Felt Board depicts the Rocky Shore and the various zones. Students place pictures of seaweeds in the appropriate zones.
  • Students make a Medallion by mounting a piece of seaweed on construction paper.
  • Zone Quiz: Each student receives a diagram of the Rocky Shore showing the various zones. Students connect seaweed names to the appropriate zones.
  • Advanced students learn to use a Dichotomous Key (a roadmap of Yes/No questions) to identify various species of seaweeds.
  • Finally, we review the vocabulary used in the presentation and the answers to the zone quiz.

For a memorable hand-on activity, Squid Dissection is right up your alley!

Our team of docents will lead your group in identifying external parts of the squid, then guide them through a careful dissection and identification of internal anatomy.