To help provide access to home-based learning resources, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) compiled a collection of online ocean and coastal education materials. These virtual learning environments include online curricula, games, quizzes, and cyber explorations accessible from home—many of which were developed for the COVID-19 school closures and continue to offer new and updated resources for remote and supplemental learning. CZM thanks all of the organizations that are working hard to make resources like these available!
These online resources, listed alphabetically, provide comprehensive lesson plans and other materials for distance learning opportunities.
- BrainPOP - This online educational tool for grades K-12 offers animated videos, along with related quizzes, games, and other materials. Students can find coastal- and ocean-related science lessons on everything from climate change and ecosystems to floods and oceans. Accompanying every topic and game is a collection of teaching support materials.
- CK-12 - This company provides free and customizable K-12 open educational resources using interactive digital textbooks called Flexbooks. Science chapters include coastal and ocean topics like freshwater and wetland biomes, mollusks, and (marine) reptile ecology.
- Earth School - This free educational portal was launched on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and TED-Ed to help students, parents, and teachers explore the science and beauty of planet Earth. Supported by more than 30 collaborators and 100 contributors, Earth School provides 30 different quests, covering water, air, life, climate, habitat, human use, and many more topics.
- e-learning for Kids - This educational website integrates free gaming and learning for K-6 students with virtual travel around the world to learn about the seven continents, countries, cities, oceans, and cultures. The website can be specifically searched for ocean topics with tons of results, such as Atlantic Ocean - What Is the Water Cycle?, Center of the Atlantic Ocean - Animal Senses, and Underwater City - Bacteria.
- EnviroAtlas Education Materials - On the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroAtlas website, find a series of ready-made lesson plans using interactive web-based tools, hands-on activities, or outdoor exploratory sessions. Virtual lessons include: exploring your watershed (grades K-6), introduction to ecosystem services (grades 4-6), connecting ecosystems and human health (grades 4-12+), and building a greenway: a case study (grades 9-undergraduate).
- Estuary Education - This online educational resource provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve System links to lessons, tutorials, and modules on topics such as estuaries as water filters, coastal acidification, and animal adaptations, along with many other activities, quizzes, games, virtual field trips, and other resources focusing on the areas where rivers meet the sea.
- Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration - This company, which builds and operates robotic platforms for underwater exploration, has designed ocean-related online modules for middle and high school students. These easy-to-use, virtual, classroom-ready lessons include ocean facts, videos, interviews with career professionals, selected short essays, and critical thinking questions to stimulate discussion on topics ranging from corals to underwater filmmaking.
- Khan Academy - This nonprofit offers free remote learning options during school closures that include daily schedules and self-paced, interactive content for students in every grade and in most major subject areas. The ecology pages cover topics like ecosystems and biomes, invasive species, and the water cycle, while the biodiversity and conservation pages offer lessons on ocean acidification and biodiversity impacts, how climate change affects biodiversity, and local and global policies to help protect the planet. Khan Academy has a parent quick start guide, frequently asked questions, and distance learning videos/webinars to help get started.
- Massachusetts STEM@Home List of Resources - This comprehensive compilation of STEM-based resources created by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for families, educators, and students includes links to Virtual Visits with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Science News for Students experiments, Encounter Edu’s Bring the Ocean to the Classroom units, Harvard University’s EcoMuve curriculum, and much more.
- National Geographic Ocean Education - This website offers links to K-12 curricula and lesson plans about ocean life, human interactions with the ocean, and physical geography. Though typically used for classrooms, these resources provide a wealth of exploration from home, including units on loggerhead sea turtles, healthy beaches, creating a marine protected area, and more.
- National Ocean Service Education - NOAA offers this comprehensive educational portal for educators, students, and younger kids who want to learn more about the ocean and coasts. Educators can find programs, content, and resources to increase ocean and climate literacy and stewardship in their classroom, students can dive into tutorials on subjects ranging from corals to pollution to tides, and younger kids can enjoy stories, coloring sheets, puzzles, and activities featuring marine sanctuaries, ocean and earth sciences, marine archeology, and so much more.
- NOAA Education - On the Education at home page, NOAA lists popular educational resources to help families learn about the ocean and atmosphere. Resources include Data in the Classroom (interactive, map-based lessons for middle through high school students), elementary resources and hands-on activities for younger kids, and virtual dives in National Marine Sanctuaries.
- Northeastern University Marine Science Center (MSC) Educator Resources - Organized by the MSC Outreach Program and the Ocean Genome Legacy, this website offers online teaching materials and curriculum packs on rocky intertidal science and other marine topics. Teachers and students can participate in a case study on ocean acidification, read through a blue crab range expansion case study (PDF, 1 MB), learn local habitats through educational posters, explore powerpoint presentations about rocky intertidal areas, and more. The MSC Educator Newsletter highlights many new features, such as this make your own tidepool activity (PDF, 13 MB).
- Seacoast Science Center Student and Educator Resources - The Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire, offers numerous remote learning options to connect kids with the coast. Students can access the Your Learning Connection page to find weekly lessons, videos, activity sheets, and other resources with topics that range from whales to shapes in nature to seaweed on the shore. All weekly issues include options to get outside, use STEM curriculum, and participate in art & nature projects. Students can also explore the interactive online Virtual Tide Pool and Rocky Shore Curriculum, and teachers can link to digital choice boards on the Teacher Learning Connection page for more activities, assessments, and videos on topics such as photosynthesis, food webs, and tides & currents.
- STEAM Resources - This web page provided by the Inwater Research Group, a sea turtle conservation organization, provides a comprehensive list of online, virtual, and digital STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) resources for home learning from across the United States. Inwater also hosts digital curricula about sea turtles for K-12 students.
- Striped Bass Platform - This Marine Biological Laboratory website provides a menu of ideas and lesson plans for teachers and students on this important fish species, such as mapping striped bass migration, learning about striped bass anatomy, and working through a lesson plan on the life cycle and history of striped bass.
- World Ocean Observatory - This compendium of home-study tools and ocean-related teaching and learning resources includes an ocean curriculum catalogue that lists educational content, lesson plans, and activities for kindergarten through secondary school.
The following websites offer an assortment of lab experiments, activities, stories, games, and quizzes for the younger (and sometimes older) generations.
- American Museum of Natural History - The Museum’s online science website, OLogy, provides games, stories, and hands-on activities on science subjects such as ocean pollution, hurricanes, and sea turtles, and the learn-at-home Curriculum Collections lists lessons, activities, articles, and videos on topics ranging from ecology disruptions to online field journals.
- Center for Coastal Studies - This Provincetown-based center features quizzes and activities, simple experiments, and video presentations to help engage and inform kids of all ages about coastal and ocean ecosystems. Students can test their knowledge on humpback whales, create a mini oil spill cleanup response, and watch presentations on horseshoe crabs, northern elephant seals, manta rays, and more.
- National Geographic Kids - Specifically created for ages 6 and up, this comprehensive website offers photos, videos, facts, games, quizzes, and more on topics related to National Geographic magazine. Here kids can find information on animals (like the beluga whale, jellyfish, and octopus), videos of science lab experiments (such as making an ocean in a bottle), and a whole suite of pages dedicated to saving the Earth. Don’t forget to visit the Massachusetts page for information about the Bay State’s history, geography, and natural resources.
- Ocean Awareness Resources - The Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs website features a Resource Studio with articles, videos, quizzes, podcasts, and more on the climate crisis and ocean conservation. Students can also find (and help create) inspirational collections of professional and student visual art, interactive media, films, music, poetry, and prose that creatively communicate ecosystem issues and solutions.
Ocean Today Videos - Originally designed for a multimedia kiosk in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, this NOAA video series about the ocean realm is now offered online for all to experience. With more than 360 free videos, students can explore shipwrecks and volcanoes, learn about the perils of tsunamis, hurricanes, and rip currents, discover interesting marine life, and expand their knowledge about the ongoing research and efforts to protect life in the ocean. For an in-person experience, Ocean Today kiosks are still available at dozens of aquariums, museums, and learning centers throughout the world—check out the kiosk map to find the nearest location. To be alerted to new Ocean Today content and timely themes, subscribe to the "Every Full Moon" monthly bulletin.
- Outward Explorers - This Facebook page offers daily activity guides for families, including scavenger hunts, mindfulness sessions, creature features, and nature explorations.
- Planet Arcade Games - This NOAA web page has links to dozens of free online computer games, many with a coastal connection. See if you can help protect loggerhead sea turtles and habitats, make policies to promote resilient coastal communities, or help save a beach from bacterial contamination.
- Remote Polar Learning Resources - Brought to you by Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, in partnership with Reach the World and Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, these remote resources offer learning activities, live virtual programs, videos, and other multimedia centered around the latest science conducted on an Arctic research expedition. Students can also connect with the MOSAiC expedition each week with MOSAiC Mondays (or sign up to have it delivered via email).
- Smithsonian Institution - The world's largest museum, education, and research complex is presenting distance learning opportunities as a way to virtually explore science and nature. Discover activities and games on the fun stuff for kids and teens page, participate in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) webcast series, learn all about sharks on the ocean portal, and virtually explore 15 habitats within the museum’s exhibits.
- STEM Links for Kids at Home - Mystic Aquarium's STEM Mentoring program offers a listing of collections, games, videos, virtual field trips, hands-on activities, e-books, podcasts, and more for kids in grades K-5. Sign up for their e-newsletter for theme highlights, such as The Ocean.
- Water Protection Worksheets and Activities - The New England Water Environment Association’s Giveaways, Presentation Tools, and Supplemental Materials page provides a library of free, downloadable activities and worksheets that cover water quality, water conservation, wastewater treatment, and other topics critical to the protection of water resources. Presentation resources for teachers and parents are also available for grades K-3, 4-8, and 9-12.
Other Online Programs
Check out these resources for speaker series, webinars, podcasts, and virtual field trips.
- COSEE Multimedia - On this Consortium for Ocean Science Exploration and Engagement page, find a variety of audio slideshows and scientist profiles that connect ocean research to the educational community, including their ocean gazing podcast that highlights 52 stories of working scientists, along with complimentary lesson plans for high school and college students.
- Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Videos - MBL has launched a new initiative to bring science to high school students through MBLSciShoots, 10-15 minute videos with topics from horseshoe crab biology to invasive species. Videos will be posted Tuesday and/or Thursday afternoons on the MBL's Facebook and YouTube channels followed by a comment-based Q&A with the video scientist.
- New England Aquarium - The Aquarium hosts many virtual visits on their YouTube page with videos of presentations about sharks and rays, octopus toys, marine mammal babies, and so much more. Their Educational Resources and Activities page can also be accessed to find an assortment of downloadable activity books on similar topics, such as shark observations (PDF, 74 KB) and penguin adaptations (PDF, 216 KB).
- NOAA Live! Webinar Series - Woods Hole Sea Grant, with regional collaboration from NOAA offices, offers a series of recorded (previously live-streamed) webinars on their NOAA Live! YouTube channel. Here you can find 39 presentations on topics ranging from sharks to tsunamis to right whales.
- NOAA Ocean Podcast - While out walking the dog or sitting at the kitchen counter, how about connecting with ocean experts and exploring topics from corals to coastal science through NOAA’s audio podcasts? From Bringing Wetlands to Market to the Nautical Origins of 10 Popular Phrases, find hours of audio entertainment without staring at a screen.
- School’s Out Science Webinars - Explore ocean-themed webinars on YouTube from the ECOGIG Ocean Ecosystem Research Program. Each webinar, which lasts approximately 30-45 minutes, dives into topics such as deep sea adaptations, sounds in the ocean, and ocean plastics.
- STEM@HOME - Developed by the nationwide STEM Ecosystems Initiative, this website provides a virtual collection of resources, webinars, and workshops for educators, families, and caregivers to engage in continued STEM learning at home. A growing list of online activities shared by community partners from around the country can also be found on the Resource Library Activities for Children page.
Another avenue for learning, these virtual sources provide hours of entertainment that comes only second to actually being there.
- Google Ocean - As part of Google Earth, this ocean layer allows students to explore the depths of the ocean, view content from marine experts, discover surf and dive spots, and even check out 3-dimensional views of shipwrecks like the Titanic.
- Ocean Portal - Developed by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and more than 20 collaborating organizations, this unique, interactive online source of stories, videos, games, and amazingly beautiful images is devoted to ocean life, ecosystems, and ocean science.
Additional Educational Information from CZM
For information on publications, films/videos, and many other ocean education resources, please refer to CZM’s Massachusetts Coastal and Ocean Education Guide for K-12 Teachers.
In addition, check out these CZ-Tips with information appropriate for students learning about the Massachusetts coast:
- CZ-Tip - Be a Coast-Conscious Kid! - This tip helps children of all ages learn everyday actions that positively impact the coast, including ways to keep waters clean, protect animals and their habitats, and more.
- CZ-Tip - Discover Fascinating Features, Forms, and Even Fossils at the Beach - Learn where beach sand comes from, what gives the beach its color, and why beaches look so different from day to day with this tip.
- CZ-Tip - Learn What Lurks in a Massachusetts Tide Pool - See this tip to learn more about strange marine organisms and the creative characteristics that allow them to survive this harsh intertidal environment, along with a guide to destinations where you can make your own tide pool discoveries (with appropriate social distancing, of course).
- CZ-Tip - Repurposing with a Purpose - This tip provides ideas for reusing items that would otherwise be thrown away or recycled, and offers some interesting ideas to while away the time at home.