Numbers listed in parentheses indicate ages for each class; letters indicate the session(s).
SEASHORE LIFE (7-8) A, B, AB
Students will explore local beaches and salt marshes to observe and learn about the animals and plants that live there. Activities will include collecting intertidal environments, setting up classroom aquaria, experiments, and art projects.
WOODS, PONDS, AND FIELDS (8-9) A, B
Students will learn about animals and plants of terrestrial and freshwater environments through outdoor activities and collections and by setting up terraria and aquaria in the classroom. Separate units will introduce students to plants, insects and spiders, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.
ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (8-9) A, B
Animals are born with innate behaviors, already knowing how to do lots of things. A fox has the instinct to chase prey, like a rabbit, and that same kind of instinct is seen in a dog when it chases a ball. Animals also have learned behaviors. Herring Gulls learn to drop clams onto the road to crack them open by watching other gulls do it. Students will observe animals to learn about what they do and why they do it. Students will set up some experiments to find out how animals learn.
MARINE BIOLOGY (9-10) A, B
This is a diverse field-oriented course in which students will visit rocky, sandy, and marshy ecosystems to collect animals and plants and learn about what they are and how they live. In the classroom, students will keep organisms in aquaria for a closer look and use microscopes for close study.
ECOLOGY OF THE BIKE PATH (9-10) A, B
Riding bicycles lets students reach the unique aquatic and upland ecosystems along the Shining Sea Bike Path. During daily rides, students will do ecological studies of the distinct habitats and environments along the bike path. Participants must provide their own bicycles and helmets and be comfortable riding for several miles and in a straight line. A skills test will be administered on the first day of class. (Space limited to 14 students.)
ART, SCIENCE, AND NATURE (9-10) A
This course blends science, nature, and the visual arts. Students will use various materials to create forms of art while learning about ecological relationships between organisms and local natural environments. Each week students will explore different habitats along the seashore, in the woods, in freshwater wetlands, and in suburban backyards of Woods Hole. Through sketches, sculptures, and other projects, students will showcase the connections among animals, plants, and their environments as well as our interactions with them.
EXPERIMENTAL ECOLOGY (10-11) A
Students will design and construct simple instruments and experiments to learn about ecological concepts and the ways that human activities interfere with natural processes in ecosystems. We will observe the negative impacts of pollution, litter, and habitat destruction and develop solutions to these problems. Students will take field trips to woods, ponds, seashore, and salt marsh to observe and collect organisms to set up terraria and aquaria.
ORNITHOLOGY (10-11) A
Did you know that there is no such bird as a “sea gull”? And that the three most common birds in North America are native to Europe? This course is designed to give students a basic understanding of bird biology as well as the ability to identify local birds by field marks, voice, and song. Activities will include field exploration and observation of nest sites, bird flight, life history, comparative morphology and coloration, and behavior. Binoculars will be provided.
SEAWEEDS (10-11) B
Did you know that we most likely consume some form of seaweed everyday without even knowing it? Come find out why seaweeds are so popular lately. Over the course of three weeks, students will immerse themselves in hands-on activities that cover such topics as: form and function, growth and light, photosynthesis and respiration, eutrophication and pollution, ocean acidification, and aquaculture. Students will learn how to identify local species using identification guides, examine ecological interactions between seaweeds and their surroundings, press seaweeds, eat seaweeds, and design a kelp farm in a fish tank.
CHEMICAL OCEANOGRAPHY (10-11) B
Students will learn about the chemical properties of seawater such as salinity, temperature, and pH. Students will investigate how changes to ocean chemistry due to natural processes (such as biological activity or geology) or human activities (such as pollution) may impact both marine and terrestrial life.
GEOLOGY OF CAPE COD (10-11) B
Did you know that Cape Cod and the Islands were formed by a huge ice sheet thousands of years ago? Students will be introduced to the geological history of Cape Cod through field work, experiments, and classroom modeling. The class will also cover topics such as fossils, soil, and water.
BOTANY (10-11) B
Plants provide the foundation for all life on earth. Students collect and identify plant species and learn about their importance in ecosystems. Through experiments, microscopy, dissection, and field work, students gain a hands-on appreciation for botanical concepts and the dynamic role that plants play in the world around us.
MICROBIOLOGY (11-12) A
Students will develop superb microscopy skills while learning about microorganisms such as diatoms, tardigrades (“water bears”), and crab larvae that they collect on field trips to habitats like forests, freshwater ponds, saltwater environments, and under rocks in the backyard.
METEOROLOGY (11-12) A
Weather is easy to study because it’s around us every day and is always changing. But what is weather, what causes it, and how can we predict it? Solar energy input, temperature differences, and pressure variations in the atmosphere drive the weather. Students learn about the components of weather and use and construct instruments that will demonstrate or measure them. Students will become adept at identifying cloud types and recording data and looking for patterns…and maybe even know what tomorrow’s weather will be without consulting the internet!
ENTOMOLOGY (11-12) B
Students learn about the major groups of insects: their habits, growth and development, and the important roles they play in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Many of our activities will involve collecting insects in fields, woods, ponds, and backyards, and rearing them in the classroom. (Did you know that one third of everything we eat is dependent on insect pollinators?)
INTRODUCTION TO FILM PHOTOGRAPHY (12-13) AB ONLY
Students will learn how to use a film camera and understand the science behind photography, composition, and printing photos in the dark room. This class will introduce the balance of light and time, developing film and printing photos. Students will explore how to artistically capture nature through a lens. CSS will provide each student with an SLR film camera for the class; space is limited to 10 students. Materials Fee: $40
ICHTHYOLOGY (12-13) A, B
Students learn to fish using different baits and lures, as well as by setting traps and using seines. They study the characteristics of species found in local North Atlantic and freshwater habitats, including their diverse forms and survival strategies.
MARINE VERTEBRATES: CETACEANS, PINNIPEDS, AND SEA TURTLES (12-13) A
Students will learn about the whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea turtles that can be seen in waters around Cape Cod. They will learn about the physical and behavioral adaptations that have evolved for a life lived entirely in the ocean or, in the case of pinnipeds, both in the water and out. Animals will be observed from shore, on boats, and at a marine animal rescue and rehab center.
NAUTICAL SCIENCE (12-13) B
Explore boat design and build a seaworthy model boat, learn to navigate by chart and compass, experiment with the principles of buoyancy and displacement, and delve into nautical terminology and practical seamanship. Classes will take trips to the working waterfront and through Woods Hole Passage.
INVERTEBRATES (12-13) B
Invertebrates dominate the animal world. Invertebrates include organisms such as sponges, cnidarians, worms, echinoderms, mollusks, and arthropods. This hands-on class will survey the diversity of invertebrate phyla and explore the evolutionary relationships between these groups. Students will study internal and external anatomy, reproduction, feeding, and behavior through observation of live specimens, dissection, classroom experiments, and field trips to local ecosystems.
ROBOTICS/ROVs (13-15) A, B
Students focus on the technical, economic, and environmental aspects of real-world marine engineering and electronics. Through frequent field trips to Woods Hole labs, project design, and data analysis, students explore principles such as buoyancy, propulsion, and energy. Students build a functional remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Materials Fee: $40.
ADVANCED MARINE BIOLOGY (14-16) A, B
Through hands-on exposure, students will delve into the biology and ecology of marine vertebrates and invertebrates, their evolution and classification, anatomy and physiology, and behaviors and habitats. This course will include snorkeling field trips to different ecosystems around Woods Hole. Students must provide their own mask, snorkel and fins. A swim test will be administered requiring students to swim 50 ft and tread water for 2 minutes. (Space limited to 14 students.)
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIODIVERSITY (14-16) A
Climate change is altering ecosystems around the globe, and Cape Cod is being affected in profound ways. In this course we will develop a scientific understanding of how and why the climate is changing and then explore the impact that these changes are having on the biodiversity of ecosystems on the Cape and beyond. We will learn from experts who are conducting research on these topics and use a systems approach to learning how climate change is impacting both natural and human systems.
BIOLOGICAL ILLUSTRATION (14-16) A
Illustration can be a useful and beautiful method of recording information. In this class we will become familiar with basic techniques of biological illustration, while examining the structure, anatomy and function of local organisms. This course will also compare historically important methods of illustration with modern techniques such as photomicrographs and data-based animations.
EMBRYOLOGY (14-16) B
During development, a single cell will divide and produce many different cell types with different shapes and jobs. How does this happen? How long does it take? This course will introduce and explore the changes and stages of embryonic development in organisms through collection and microscopic research.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND COASTAL RESILIENCY (14-16) B
Coastal resilience is the ability of a system to “bounce back” after hazards such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding – rather than simply reacting to impacts. During this class, we will consider the ways our coastal environment has adapted to changes in past climates (e.g., glacier retreat, isostasy) to illuminate what we expect our shoreline and surrounding ecosystems to be in response to our current and future climate conditions. Climate change is causing sea level rise, altering the intensity, path, and frequency of extreme storms, changing the distribution of sea-ice, and even altering the chemistry of seawater. Many of these changes are influencing the way our coast responds to erosion, deposition, and estuarine processes. Additionally, human interventions such as beach nourishments, jetties, and seawalls modify the natural equilibrium of the coastal system. We will work with historical data and future predictions to learn about many of these changes and ways in which our future decisions with regard to coastal hazards can encourage resilience. We will go on field trips to observe and understand records of climate effects on our coastal and estuarine systems.