Virtual course descriptions

Numbers listed in parentheses indicate ages for each class; letters indicate the session(s).


Jessica Rencher

You probably know your environment from the perspective of a meandering path or a picture. Most habitats are far from the trail and far from sight. This course will explore the flora and fauna of woods, ponds, and fields through interactive weekly activities.

ECOLOGICAL ART (ages 7 – 10) A

Jasmine Olins and Camilla Bowin

In this course, students will explore different art forms to communicate relationships within local Woods Hole ecosystems as well as our own connections to the environment and nature. Each week students will study a different ecosystem, learning about the different factors present, and the systems and relationships that exist within the ecosystem. While exploring beaches, forests, and our own backyards, students will create sketches, sculptures, and other projects which showcase their own connection to ecosystems in Woods Hole or their local community. Students are encouraged to complete three weekly projects and visit the highlighted ecosystem.

ORNITHOLOGY (ages 9-10) A

Becky Lash

One of the best things about birds is that you can see them no matter where you are: in a city, in the country, in a forest or a field, at the beach, or in your backyard.  In Ornithology 2020, we’ll learn to identify some common species by shape, size, feather patterns and colors.  We’ll learn how birds fly and make paper airplanes to show how some birds’ wings are designed for speed, some birds’ wings are designed to stay up in the air for a long time without flapping, while others’ are designed for quick turns in tight places like a forest.  We’ll learn observation skills, play Bird Behavior Bingo and keep records of what we see birds do around were we live.  While we learn some bird songs, we’ll find out what bird says, “chick-a-dee-dee-dee!” and what bird says, “po-ta-to-chip!”.

BOTANY (ages 10-11) A

Jenny Junker

Explore the “Kingdom Plantae” with us, from wherever you are! We will find out about how plants live and their importance in ecosystems. Projects will include experiments, customized by the participants, to deepen our appreciation of botanical concepts. We’ll discover practical and creative uses of plants by humans and other organisms. Collecting, specimen preparation, drawing, dissection, fiber arts and plant based dyes are all on the menu and also some cooking.

EMBRYOLOGY (ages 12-13) A

Sophia Kelly and Jenny McCarthy

Ever wonder how an egg goes from a single cell to a full animal? Then this is the course for you! This embryology course will explore the developmental strategies of animals and plants that can be found in the natural world around you. As your instructors, we will challenge you to get outside and find organisms ranging from caterpillars to algae that represent these different mechanisms. Then, we will have you report your findings to the entire class!  For students in and around Woods Hole, MA we will have a few key places that we will want you to explore (Eel Pond and Sippewissett Marsh!), but for those out of town, we will be able to describe places and animals that you can explore locally. The course activities will require you to have access to water. If you are still interested and do not have access to water, we will be posting a lot of additional videos and resources that you check out! However, please note most of the activities are water based, so you may be limited. There is a short list of materials for this course, so we encourage you to sign up as soon as possible, so that you can order the supplies needed for the embryology activities. Some supplies you may already have around the house, but if not, we have indicated in the supply list where these supplies can be ordered from (supply cost should not exceed ~$25 unless choosing to do the optional activities, which may cost a little more).


Jenny Junker

Observing and drawing from nature can be an inspiring, beautiful and useful practice. Learn biological illustration techniques and try out different materials while examining the structure, anatomy and function of organisms local to you.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (ages 7 – 8) B

Jessica Rencher

Learn more about the way that animals interact with their environment! Observe and study an organism’s behavior and how it changes in response to internal and external stimuli through weekly experiments. This course will give you the opportunity to work through experiments to understand animal behavior.

MARINE BIOLOGY (ages 9 – 10) B

Anna Stevens

In this field science course, students will learn the fundamentals of marine biology. Students will receive a mini lesson about a different topic each class, from crustaceans, seaweed, molluscs and marine plastics to comparing habitats in coastal environments. Students will then go into the field: a marsh, sandy beach, rocky shoreline or tide pool to make and record observations and gather samples. It is necessary to have access to salt water coastal environs to participate in this course. A small collection net and bucket are the only supplies needed and can easily be obtained at a local bait and tackle shop. This hands-on, inquiry-based course will encourage students to develop a deeper appreciation and respect for our coastal ecosystems.

OCEANOGRAPHY (ages 10-11) B

Shona Vitelli

In this remote learning Oceanography class, students will be given 9 missions to complete on their own to discover some of the fundamental ocean science principles like density, salinity, buoyancy and marine mammal adaptations, for example. Many of these missions will ask that students independently explore and investigate their local, coastal water bodies. They will experiment with major ocean science topics in geological, chemical, physical, and biological sciences. All activities can be completed with minimal parent support and will require a variety of low cost, common household supplies. A materials list will be posted prior to class.


Abagail and Catherine Bumpus

Nautical Science and Wind, Water, and Waves, will involve some of the traditional Nautical Science activities reimagined for at home with an increased focus on the world in which boating takes place. Explore buoyancy and tides, sound signals and knot tying, boat building and the weather. Some of the activities will need a buddy (a sibling or parent) and a few will involve looking at charts and videos on the computer. We think you will be able to find all the materials you need around the house!


Kate Schafer, Shona Vitelli, and Tara Bristow

In this remote learning Advanced Science Topics class, students will be given 2-3 missions per week to complete on their own to investigate some fundamental ecological science questions.  Students will independently explore their local ecology with a focus on creating maps, investigating birds, plants, lichen, microbial life, soil analysis, the carbon cycle and decomposers.  All activities can be completed with minimal parent support and will require a variety of low cost, common household supplies. A materials list will be posted prior to class.