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Massachusetts Coastal and Ocean Education Guide for K-12 Teachers

Find K-12 educational resources that cover coastal and ocean issues compiled by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

The following index lists educational resources that cover coastal and ocean issues, with a special focus on Massachusetts-based programs and K-12 materials. The index is alphabetized and broken down into the following categories:

  • Curricula/Educational Programs
  • Field Trips/Field Programs
  • In-Class Programs/Speakers
  • Websites
  • Publications
  • Films/Videos/Webstream
  • Libraries/Resource Centers
  • Newsletters/Listservs
  • Teacher Education/Professional Development
  • Other

NEW:  To help provide access to home-based learning resources during the COVID-19 outbreak, CZM has compiled a specific collection of online ocean and coastal education materials with online curricula, games, quizzes, and cyber explorations accessible from home—many of which have been developed or updated for the COVID-19 school closures. See Online Ocean Education Resources for the COVID-19 School Closures.

If you have an educational resource you would like added to either of these lists, please contact czm@mass.gov.

Curricula/Educational Programs

  • Bridge - Supported by the National Sea Grant Office, National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and National Marine Educators Association, Bridge is a collection of education resources available online, including lesson plans.
  • Discovery Education Free Teacher Resources - A range of K-12 resourced created by the Discovery Channel are available by subject.
  • Estuary Education Curriculum - This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) site includes a series of resources to help educators bring estuaries—which are the areas where rivers meet the sea—into the classroom, including links to curriculum by state and topic, tutorials, modules and activities, lessons, quizzes and games, virtual field trips, and other resources.
  • The Jason Project - This award-winning, standards-based classroom curriculum developed with NOAA, the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA), the National Geographic Society, and others covers science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics for K-12 students and high-quality professional development for teachers.
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: For Educators - This web page, hosted by PBS, links to resources designed primarily for middle school educators and students in both formal and informal educational settings, including lesson plans aligned with National Science Content Standards and Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sea Grant Education Programs - Current and past K-12 classroom programs on this website include: Sea Perch, which uses the construction of a remotely operated underwater vehicle to provide hands-on learning experiences in marine sciences and encourages students to pursue further study and careers in robotics, engineering, and marine sciences; an algae biofuel program that introduces high school students to the principles of environmental stewardship and encourages science literacy through hands-on involvement in the extraction and conversion of algae oil into biodiesel; and an eelgrass restoration project complete with curriculum.
  • MOSAiC: A Year in the Ice - The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) team at the University of Colorado Boulder, in partnership with Reach the World and Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, brings virtual and in-person classroom activities to help connect students to a real, ongoing research expedition in the North Pole. Scientists aboard an icebreaker study all aspects of the polar climate, atmosphere, sea ice, ocean, and ecosystem and bring the latest information to the classroom. Teachers can find a searchable database of lesson plans or refer to the MOSAiC Mondays page for quick activities, videos, and real-time data from the ship. In addition, the Reach the World MOSAiC expedition page offers articles, photos, videos, and live video calls from MOSAiC team members. 
  • National Geographic Classroom Resources - Find curriculum materials on critical environmental topics, including marine ecology, climate change and sea level rise, and the world ocean.
  • New England Aquarium Teacher Guides - These guides contain suggestions for instruction and activities around a variety of topics, including Boston Harbor seaside environments, penguins, and IMAX films.
  • NOAA Education Resources - This website provides a range of lessons and activities on oceans and coasts, marine life, and related topics.
  • NOAA Ocean Explorer Education Materials - This program provides a variety of learning and teaching tools designed to enhance environmental literacy through the excitement of ocean discovery. This page includes links to more than 300 lesson plans, along with a full curriculum, expedition education models, and interactive multimedia presentations and learning activities.
  • NOAA Ocean Service Education/Curriculum - This web page gives links to curricula on ocean and coastal issues.
  • NOAA Ocean Service Lesson Plan Library - Search lesson plans that present NOAA science through activities using online data from NOAA and other trusted websites. The lessons are designed to supplement existing curricula at the middle and high school levels and are correlated to National Science Education Standards and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts.
  • Ocean Education Classroom Ideas - This National Geographic Society site includes lesson plans developed by National Geographic's Sustainable Seas Expeditions and NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program. Also included are lesson plans from a variety of other institutions and educational programs, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pacific Whale Foundation, NASA, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, PBS, and the Consortium for Oceanographic Activities for Students and Teachers. This website provides links to K-12 curricula and lesson plans.
  • Ocean Portal Educator's Corner - Developed by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and more than 20 collaborating organizations, the Ocean Portal is an interactive online tool with information on ocean life and ecosystems, ocean science, and related topics. This page provides a listing of hundreds of lesson plans and activities.
  • Project WILD - The goal of this education program sponsored in Massachusetts by MassWildlife is to assist learners of any age in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment that will result in informed decisions, responsible behavior, and constructive actions concerning wildlife, people, and the environment. It includes Aquatic WILD, which focuses on aquatic wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Seacoast Science Center’s Teacher Learning Connection - The Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire, offers a selection of coastal- and ocean-themed educator resources that includes activities, assessments, and videos on topics ranging from photosynthesis to tides & currents. The Rocky Shore Curriculum, a 7-week, 24-lesson classroom curriculum for elementary educators, includes inquiry-based lessons, cross-curricular connections, projects, and assessments about the rocky shore ecosystem and the importance of marine conservation. Students can also directly access an interactive online Virtual Tide Pool for exploration and Your Learning Connection links for additional weekly lessons, videos, activity sheets, and art projects.
  • Sea Education Association's K-12 Lesson Plans - These lesson plans received the StudyWeb® Academic Excellence Award as "one of the Internet's premier sites for educational resources for students and teachers." Lesson plans are available online and searchable by grade level and topic.
  • Teach the Earth - Managed by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, this portal provides online resources for educators in the geosciences and related fields. Resources include classroom activities, course descriptions and syllabi, teaching strategies, and topical collections, including oceanography, ecology, and climate change.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Teacher Resource Center - The EPA Region 1 website includes environmental education resources that are produced by or in cooperation with EPA, including environmental education curricula, speakers, videos, grant opportunities, and directories.
  • World Ocean Observatory Curriculum Catalog - This web page is a compendium of links to educational content, including lesson plans and informal educational activities.

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Field Trips/Field Programs

  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History Class Visits - Located in Brewster, MA, the museum provides field trip opportunities where trained museum naturalists can help tailor presentations to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks so that these science-oriented tours will be relevant to the needs of teachers and their students.
  • Cat Cove Marine Laboratory at Salem State College - School groups can visit this lab in Salem, MA, to learn about aquaculture and marine science.
  • Coastal Field Studies Field-Based School Programs - The Lloyd Center for the Environment (located in Dartmouth, MA) provides hands-on coastal ecology adventures in a field setting that give K-12 students an opportunity to explore a variety of coastal habitats and use scientific equipment, field guides, and data sheets.
  • Mass Audubon School and Group Programs - Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries throughout the state provide a variety of programs for school groups.
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum Education Program - The museum offers standards-based school programs in the areas of history, language arts, culture, and science that directly address Massachusetts Department of Education Frameworks and are designed to offer hands-on learning opportunities. Participate in one program and spend a morning at the museum or bring lunch and spend the entire day.
  • New England Aquarium Field Trips - Located in Boston, the aquarium features more than 70 exhibits with aquatic animals from around the world, along with the Simons IMAX Theatre, which shows ocean-related films in IMAX 3D technology with 12,000 watts of digital sound and New England's largest screen. Check out their field trip orientation video for details.
  • Northeastern University Marine Science Center Field Trips - Students are able to explore and survey a classic New England rocky shore habitat.
  • Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies School Program - Through their in-school program, the Center (located in Provincetown, MA) works with local schools using Massachusetts Current Curriculum Frameworks for Science and Technology/Engineering to develop field experiences. Schools can choose from a list of Cape Cod exploration activities or work with the Center to design a unique field experience.
  • Salem Sound Coastwatch School to Sea - Salem Sound Coastwatch, located in Salem, provides field trip experiences in the local watershed and coastal waters, and trips can be tailored to the needs of the group. 
  • Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (WBNERR) School Programs in the Field - WBNERR is well-suited for estuarine studies with its classroom space, lab tables, and easy access to the sampling in shallow Waquoit Bay. Their K-12 educator can help teachers set up specialized programs, including: monitoring coastal change at a nearby beach through dune profiling and observing changes after a salt marsh restoration project.

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In-Class Programs/Speakers

  • Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources - The Board is the sole trustee of the underwater heritage of Massachusetts and encourages the discovery and reporting, as well as the preservation and protection, of underwater archaeological resources. Tailored speaker and in-class programs are available on Board projects.
  • Lloyd Center for the Environment In-School Programs - The Center provides a variety of programs where staff naturalist and educators come to the classroom and discuss coastal topics, including animals of the estuary, marine mammals, and horseshoe crab or flounder anatomy.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Fish - Mr. and Mrs. Fish will come to your school and perform educational, hour-long assembly programs for the entire school. Costuming themselves as a variety of sea creatures, Mr. and Mrs. Fish humorously act out life as it is in the sea. Following the morning assembly program, schools can also have Mr. and Mrs. Fish spend the rest of the day in the school visiting classrooms for follow-up presentations.
  • New England Aquarium School Programs - The Aquarium offers in-class programs for K-12 students, covering animals from penguins, sharks, fish, squid, whales, and turtles, as well as various habitats from tide pools to the open ocean. Programs meet Massachusetts Curriculum Standards.
  • Northeastern University Marine Science Center in Your Classroom - Staff are available to deliver in-class programs in the following communities: Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Swampscott, and Marblehead. These experiences typically involve introducing students to live animals from the local rocky shore.
  • Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies School Programs - Through their in-school program, the Center (located in Provincetown, MA) works with local schools using Massachusetts Current Curriculum Frameworks for Science and Technology/Engineering to develop in-class experiences.

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Websites

  • Massachusetts Marine Educators - In addition to online lesson plans/curricula and teacher workshops/professional development opportunities, this website includes a calendar and information on contests, awards, and membership opportunities.
  • National Geographic Ocean Education - This website provides activities, information, and related resources on ocean topics from food webs, to mapping, to pollution.
  • NOAA EstuariesThis NOAA website provides extensive information about estuaries, which are the areas where rivers meet the sea. Along with a curriculum designed for educators and students at the high school level, it includes fact sheets, videos, science and data information, and links to other resources.
  • Ocean Portal - Developed by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and more than 20 collaborating organizations, the Ocean Portal is an interactive online tool with information on ocean life and ecosystems, ocean science, and related topics. It includes a specific section for educators with links to educational resources to provide appropriate background information.
  • The Ocean Today - This website by World Ocean Observatory provides internet exhibits for the classroom, ocean news and blogs, videos, audio essays, and information about the ocean. It also includes Our Ocean Space—a web-based network for exchange of projects, art, audio-visual presentations, and other imaginative formats, created and up-loaded by young Citizens of the Ocean to share with their counterparts worldwide. The Ocean Classroom section of the website provides information about online resources, a catalogue of curriculum, profiles of people and organization working on ocean issues, ocean schools, and visualization theater—a series of audio-visual demonstrations of the inter-relationship of natural systems and human activities.
  • Sail the Book: Maritime Literature, Art, History and Ocean Literacy in Google Earth - This website, developed by a high school science teacher in New York State, uses Google Earth to take the reader on a virtual journey to locations mentioned in six books of maritime nonfiction literature to promote ocean literacy by blending art, history, science, and geographic awareness in a multidisciplinary and engaging manner.

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Publications

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Films/Videos/Webstream

  • EstuaryLIVE - This website provides more than 100 free, interactive field trips over the internet, hosted by NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserves in collaboration with EPA's National Estuary Programs.
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: For Educators - This web page hosted by PBS links to resources designed primarily for middle school educators and students in both formal and informal educational settings, including online videos.
  • NOAA Education Resources - This website provides a range of multimedia materials on oceans and coasts, marine life, and related topics.

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Libraries/Resource Centers

  • Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources - The Board is the sole trustee of the underwater heritage of Massachusetts and encourages the discovery and reporting, as well as the preservation and protection, of underwater archaeological resources. The Board maintains a library/resource center that is available to the public (advanced scheduling is necessary).
  • Bridge - Supported by the National Sea Grant Office, National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and National Marine Educators Association, Bridge is a collection of education resources available online, including a resource center for teachers.
  • National Geographic Resource Library - This website, as part of National Geographic Society’s Education program, includes links to thousands of lessons, articles, collections, videos, and more that can be searched by content type, subject matter, and grade level.
  • New England Aquarium Teacher Resource Center - This center provides professional development, free personalized consultations, curricula, and materials available for loan for preK-12 educators, park rangers, camp counselors, and other informal educators.

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Newsletters/Listservs

    • Bridge/Scuttlebutt - Supported by the National Sea Grant Office, National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and National Marine Educators Association, Bridge is a collection of education resources available online. "Scuttlebutt," the Bridge discussion list, is a forum for marine educators to talk informally about marine education ideas, issues, and questions. Bridge staff monitor list activity and will assist in locating expertise to answer questions that teachers post to the list, as needed. All educators and scientists interested in marine science education are invited to subscribe.
    • CZ-Mail - This free, monthly electronic newsletter from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management provides a range of information on coastal and ocean issues, including descriptions of new publications and websites and educational opportunities for teachers.
    • Flotsam & Jetsam - Massachusetts Marine Educators publishes a quarterly journal that can be accessed online.
    • New England Aquarium's E-Newsletter for Teachers - This newsletter provides updates from the Aquarium's Teacher Resource Center, including information about opportunities for professional development and project funding.

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    Teacher Education/Professional Development

      • Bridge Teacher Center - Part of the ocean science education platform, this web page offers professional development opportunities, including distance learning, courses/workshops, summer opportunities, and grants/awards for teachers.
      • National Geographic Professional Development - This National Geographic Society page links to opportunities and programs for K–12 educators, including online courses and access to an educator network, grants, and teacher fellowships.
      • New England Aquarium Professional Development - The Aquarium offers a variety of development opportunities for teachers including courses, field-trip preparation workshops, custom-designed in-service training, events and conferences, and one-to-one consultation.
      • NOAA Educator Opportunities - This web page includes links to training, workshops, and self-directed online educational opportunities for teachers.
      • NOAA Ocean Explorer Professional Development - These offerings provide opportunities for teachers to engage in learning more about ocean exploration. They are designed to introduce participants to premiere ocean scientists/explorers and their research and explorations, and at the same time, provide exemplary tools and resources to enhance the teaching and learning of ocean science and NOAA endeavors in ocean exploration.
      • NOAA's Teacher at Sea Program - This program provides a unique environment for learning and teaching by sending kindergarten- through college-level teachers to sea aboard NOAA research and survey ships to work under the tutelage of scientists and crew. The valuable skills and knowledge that teachers acquire are then brought to the classroom.
      • Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (WBNERR) Teacher Training - WBNERR offers a variety of teacher training opportunities, including workshops, graduate credit courses, and presentations at regional, state, and national conferences. In addition, their K-12 educator also provides one-to-one consulting with teachers.
      • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Workshops for Educators - WHOI and the Woods Hole Sea Grant Office offer professional development workshops for middle  and high school teachers, held twice a year on the WHOI Campus. During the workshops, WHOI scientists and engineers speak to and interact with teachers about their work and the related exhibits at the WHOI Ocean Science Discovery Center.

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      Other

        • Blue Lobster Bowl - Hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant, this is the Massachusetts regional competition within the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The event is a rapid-fire, marine science quiz bowl covering many areas of ocean sciences, including chemistry, biology, engineering, history, ecology, climate change, and weather. Winners of regional competitions are invited to compete in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
        • Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources - The Board is the sole trustee of the underwater heritage of Massachusetts and encourages the discovery and reporting, as well as the preservation and protection, of underwater archaeological resources. Volunteer opportunities are available to participate in the work of the Board.
        • COASTSWEEP - This statewide beach cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management occurs each fall. Class groups are encouraged to participate in scheduled cleanups or to conduct their own, and all supplies are provided for free.
        • Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Awards - The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), in collaboration with the Secretary's Advisory Group on Energy and Environmental Education (SAGEE) and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET), conducts an annual award program to recognize schools and teachers (K-12) across Massachusetts for their outstanding efforts in furthering energy and environmental education initiatives at their schools. Please nominate an outstanding school or teacher today.
        • Marine Art/Poster Contest - The Massachusetts Marine Educators and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary jointly sponsor this annual Marine Art/Poster Contest for grades K-12.
        • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Photo Library - If you are looking for free photos on coastal and ocean topics, this is the place to go. Users can search and download NOAA images from a selection of more than 4,000 public domain images like this.
        • NOAA Multimedia Needs Assessment Survey - 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.

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