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Marine and Coastal Science

In the Fall of 2021, Sea Crest launched its Marine Science program. Over the course of the year, students examine ocean literacy concepts through the study of where we live: our own watershed, shores and marine environment. These larger concepts include deep dives into what the ocean is like, how the ocean supports a great diversity of life, how it shapes the features of the earth, how it influences our weather and climate, how it makes the earth habitable, and how we are inextricably linked to it.

Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you—and your influence on the ocean. An ocean-literate person:

  • Understands the essential principles and fundamental concepts about the ocean
  • Can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way
  • Makes informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources

Students are working, exploring, growing, and testing things in the lab. A focus of the program is service, providing an opportunity for us to come together as a school, to connect with the greater community, and to have a real impact on the place where we live. 

Primary School (Grades JK-1)

Primary School is a time of great wonder. In Marine Science these students are building their environmental curiosity, exploring, building and visiting salt and freshwater habitats, while examining the life and features of these ecosystems. Students explore and help to care for the animals within our lab, while also learning about the other animals within our greater coastal ecosystem and in the ocean. They travel to local coastal ecosystems and work together to plan, create, and observe water habitats in which they observe the life cycles of frogs and fish, and they watch and journal the changes in these animals bodies and behavior before students release them. Students also begin to learn about their connection to our local watershed, learning about and actively becoming earth heroes within their own schoolyard. 

A sample of primary school guiding questions:

  • How can we explore the world like environmental scientists?
  • What do I know and what do I wonder about the ocean?
  • What water habitats can be found in the world and what are their characteristics? 
  • What animals live in water? How do they meet these needs in water habitats?
  • What are the challenges of the rocky intertidal zone? How do plants and animals hold on/ hide and protect themselves and eat here?
  • What is a watershed? How do we impact our watershed and how can we help to make it better for all living things?
  • How can we use what we are learning to help the earth and others? 
Marine and Coastal Science

Secondary School (Grades 2-4)

Secondary school is a time of deeper learning about the many regions, habitats, and characteristics of the ocean. Students are deep diving into the study of our watershed, our coast and our connection to it. Second graders are learning about the geology and biology of the sandy shore and our coastal prairie- taking part in local native plant restoration projects . Thirds graders explore our watershed and wetlands, studying, tracking and caring for our local Arroyo Leon creek habitat, as well as our local coastal wetlands. Fourth graders begin their study of the basic physical characteristics of the ocean, and the different habitats- taking part in an in depth study of a chosen habitat, and sharing their learning with the Sea Crest community. 

A sample of secondary school guiding questions:

  • What can we tell about the ocean and the land by examining the sand at the shore?
  • How can we measure and track the health of a freshwater ecosystem? 
  • How can we use plants to improve our coastal environment?
  • How do the bodies of these plants/animals help them move/feed /protect within this environment?
  •  How is the ocean different in different places- light/pressure /temp/ salinity?
  • How do differences form currents?
  • What are the defining characteristics of different marine habitats? 
  • What is a watershed and how are we an important part of it? 
Marine and Coastal Science

Upper School (Grades 5-8)

In the upper school program, students are examining the relationship that the ocean has to the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere. Students examine how they can make informed, evidence-based decisions about how they will respond individually and as a society to the complex issues surrounding the care of our ocean. 

Students travel along our shores and within in the San Francisco Bay to examine the local wildlife and ocean characteristics. They interview and learn from ocean related professionals from our community, and take part in local coastal service projects- related to coastal restoration work, beach cleanups, and education of our lower school students. 

Students also travel and participate in overnight field experiences to learn about the ocean in a broader way.  The 7th and 8th graders travel to Catalina Island with the Naturalists at Large Program to explore a large protected kelp forest environment - snorkeling and paddling alongside bright Girabaldis and a variety of other fish and rays. The 5th and 6th graders travel to Camp SEA Lab, an educational nonprofit organization located in Aptos, California dedicated to teaching Marine Biology in Northern California. 

A sample of upper school guiding questions:

  • How are humans and the ocean connected?
  • How do the ocean/ atmosphere interact?
  • How are animals of different phyla adapting to meet the needs of their niche in the ocean?
  • How does carbon flow through the ocean, land, and atmosphere?
  • What are the causes and effects of climate change?
  • How is the ocean currently being researched and protected?
  • What aspects of the ocean are of critical concern? 
  • How do/can we influence our marine and coastal environment?