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Online Ocean Education Resources for the COVID-19 School Closures

Find links to online educational resources compiled by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

Table of Contents

Overview

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!

Curricula/Educational Programs

These online resources, listed alphabetically, provide comprehensive lesson plans and other materials for distance learning opportunities.

Extracurriculars

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 pollutionhurricanes, 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 activitiessimple 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 whalejellyfish, 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.
  • 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-34-8, and 9-12.

Other Online Programs

Check out these resources for speaker series, webinars, podcasts, and virtual field trips.

  • COSEE Talks and Podcasts - On this Consortium for Ocean Science Exploration and Engagement page, find scientist-led presentations in a variety of formats for use by science educators and older students, including a monthly All Things Marine Radio segment on marine science and conservation, online scientist presentations, and ocean gazing podcasts with personal stories of working scientists.
  • 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 - Even when the doors are closed, the Aquarium hosts a Virtual Visit page with videos of presentations and talks (such as fun facts about sharks and rays), at-home projects and activities (such as a lesson on Animal Adaptations), and additional educational resources.
  • 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.
  • NOAA Multimedia Needs Assessment - NOAA is conducting a short survey to determine the types of STEM multimedia resources and distance learning mechanisms most needed by educators. The survey focuses on ocean, atmospheric, climate, and related STEM topics of interest, and the types of multimedia resources that are in highest demand.
  • Ocean Protection Advocacy Kids (OPAK) Webinars - OPAK is teaming up with K-12 teachers and can tailor webinars to each class on topics that include plankton, marine protected areas, horseshoe crabs, pinnipeds and whales, and ocean circulation. OPAK can hold a Zoom Meeting or join the virtual platform of the school’s choice. All webinars include follow-up activities and questions and answer sessions. Past webinars, along with links to project materials, can be found on the Webinar Resources page
  • 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.
  • Woods Hole Sea Grant - On the Educational Resources Used During School Closures page, Woods Hole Sea Grant links to on-line program ideas, including recorded ocean-themed webinarsvirtual story times from the Mote Marine Laboratory, virtual field trips from the Alaska SeaLife Center, Live Cams from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other resources to entertain both children and adults.

Virtual Exploration

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:

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