The Science Ship™ Programs
Blue Water Explorer
Only about 5% of our oceans have been investigated and without programs in place to train future scientists to explore the seas we will lose a vital means of gathering information and getting firsthand accounts of our wildlife and ecosystems. We are discovering new bio-products and new technologies in our oceans and rainforests that are benefiting humankind with new medicines and new ways to fix our ailing planet. Exploration keeps us competitive in a global economy and it is core to our genome.
Many of the greatest discoveries that shaped us as a people and formed our current scientific thought occurred on the decks of sailing ships. In the age of burning fossil fuels, a sailing ship is about as “green” a technology as is possible. The carbon signature is low because you do not have to burn a 1,000 gallons of fuel to arrive at a destination. Sailboats have a natural rhythm with the sea and it makes the journey more than just about getting from one place to the next. It’s about inspiration, adventure, discovery, leadership, and braving the elements-It about a team.
The Science Ship™ is a life altering experience that provides students the opportunity to work with scientists and filmmakers uncovering science and solving important environmental issues on the decks of a Tall Ship named the RV Morning Star Explorer. Our classroom is not constrained by four walls or by the limitations of simply receiving instruction from a teacher or following lesson plans from books. Instead it is nature’s classroom, hands-on, engaging, fun and relevant to a student’s world views. Students leave the classroom and investigate the world as Blue Water Explorers.
Expeditions are open to high school juniors and seniors, university students, graduate and post graduates. The coursework is comprehensive with the idea of building leadership, confidence and instilling values. Students can earn semester hours. Graduates and post graduates complete their thesis or dissertations.
Film is becoming an essential tool in the struggle to protect the environment. Scientific films are an effective and powerful means to inspire others to take action. Scientists that know how to utilize film can create digital records of their discoveries and share them with interested audiences. Shore Lab Discovery Center has created partnerships with film schools, experts and organizations, to give students the opportunity to make relevant environmental films.
The Science Ship™ program is a pathway to train future environmental cinematographers and scientists with readily available and topical subject matter. Students will have the opportunity to work alongside world-class filmmakers learning the art of wildlife photography and cinematography. They will start by recording a daily video log of the ships activities. The video logs will share the back stories of the expeditions and crew. Live video conferencing will allow classrooms to share in the experiences and provide valuable data feeds to scientists and learned institutions worldwide.
Film program is open to high school, college and university students. The coursework is designed to provide emerging future scientists a valuable tool and to future documentarians a conservation perspective.
Children’s Film-Stevie’s Morning Star Adventures©
Complementing The Science Ship™ is an animated children’s program in development for PBS entitled Stevie’s Morning Star Adventures©. The animated series works in tandem with The Science Ship™ to convey basic science concepts to a younger viewing audience. Stevie©, is a seven-year-old adventurer with a passion for sea horses and exploration along with her little brother Iz©: a tome-toting, puzzle-solving researcher-in-training whose epiphanies strike him as “Idea Lightning”, they explore the world of science aboard the sailing vessel RV Morning Star Explorer, aka The Science Ship™. Stevie© and Iz© go from their animated world to traveling the high seas with scientists—learning fun ocean facts and making new friends along the way! Stevie’s Morning Star Adventures© emphasizes learning in a fun, family-friendly way that demonstrates the interconnections of our seas and our lives.
Placing your hands on science has greater meaning and impact than simply following a lesson plan from a book. Students at grade level five and above will have a chance to examine their world through exciting and unique platforms. Programs often include multiple classrooms working together on science projects.
Classroom Programs are based on class size, age appropriateness, available materials and staffing. Day trips aboard the RV Morning Star Explorer are available based on relative position of the vessel. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts. Requests for programs are made by teachers or schools through the "Teachers" portal.
Life in a Pond
Any body of water can offer a unique opportunity to explore and make discoveries that you may not realize exist. Many pond plants, animals and microorganisms live together making up communities that form complex ecosystems. How well these communities are doing can tell us about the general health of our planet.
Class objectives are: to learn about the diversity of plants, animals, insects and microorganisms that make up pond communities. We will learn how these communities differ from communities in larger bodies of water and how they interact to form the ecology of the pond. We will also learn about the science of Limnology which defines the water conditions and make up of a pond and how Limnology is used to manage inland waterways. The material gives an overview of the common conditions: water science, habitats, plants, animals and microorganisms that make up pond communities.
As part of the classroom work there will be one or more field trip(s) to a local pond. Students should dress appropriately on the day of the trip(s). All collection, identification and sampling materials will be supplied. Transportation will be provided by the school district. Parental release will be required. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other ecosystems is the characteristic vegetation adapted to the hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification, flood control, carbon sinks and shoreline stability. Wetlands are also considered one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. They occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica. The largest wetlands are the Amazon River Basin, the Florida Everglades, the West Siberian Plain and the Pantanalin in South America. The water found in wetlands can be fresh, brackish, or saltwater. The main wetland types include swamps, marshes, bogs and fens. Wetlands have a significant influence over climate change, the carbon cycle and produce a number of beneficial products.
Class objectives are: to learn the ecology and hydrology of wetlands. What defines a wetland: types and locations of wetlands, temporal variation and the role wetlands play in shoreline stabilization. How wetlands function in: water purification, carbon absorption, pollution control and flood control. How to identify the biota of a wetland, humankinds influences, as well as, wetland preservation. The material gives an overview of the common conditions: water science, habitats, plants, animals and microorganisms that make up wetlands.
As part of the classroom work there will be one or more field trip(s) to a local wetland. Students should dress appropriately on the day of the trip(s). All collection, identification and sampling materials will be supplied. Transportation will be provided by the school district. Parental release will be required. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
The shoreline offers an amazing amount of life forms and habitats: Jetties and Groins, Sandy Beaches, Flotsam and Jetsam, Offshore Bottoms, Salt Marshes, Mud Flats, Artificial Reefs, Oyster Reefs, Shell habitats, Plankton and Nekton. It is an area of continuous wave action, scouring currents, baking sun and predation. Still life adapts and thrives in this ever changing environment. Exploration of the beaches bring endless fascination and intrigue. Every movement of the waves uncovers new life. No special knowledge is required to walk the beaches. This is a fun opportunity to become acquainted with the diversity of life and habitats of the shoreline.
Class objectives are: to learn taxonomic identification of the species normally encountered along the shoreline. Students will also learn to identify the various habitats of the near shore area and the influences the habitats have on species distribution and adaptation.
As part of the classroom work there will be one or more field trip(s) to a local beach. Students should dress appropriately on the day of the trip(s). All collection, identification and sampling materials will be supplied. Transportation will be provided by the school district. Parental release will be required. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
Robotics (ROV Construction and Operations)
A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) is a self-propelled, tethered underwater mobile device used by scientists and commercial operators to explore the oceans and waterways of the world. ROV's have become a critical tool for scientists and without them the hazards of deep sea exploration would make the task virtually impossible. ROV's are equipped with lights, video cameras, instrumentation and articulating arms to handle and recover objects. Propulsion is via hydraulic pumps while flotation packs and thrusters provide control.
Class objectives are: to learn the value, uses, construction and operation of an ROV for exploration. A competition will be held to see which student can build the most creative and functional ROV. Materials to construct individual ROV's will be provided and students are encouraged to be creative in their designs. ROV's will be tested for sea worthiness and functionality. The winning vehicle will win a prize and have an opportunity to complete regionally.
No Boys Allowed
This program is designed to create an experience that empowers and grows confidence in girls to explore careers in science and technology. Statistics show that girls are intimidated out of science and technology at an early age because society and the boys, in general, do not see women as credible competitors. They get discouraged and think they won't belong. By the time young women reach college, they have lost interest. Researchers who study this phenomena have found that having just one positive learning experience in the sciences mitigates this and provides the impetus and confidence for girls to succeed.
Women who are doctors and engineers, when interviewed, overwhelming confirmed that exposure to science and technology when they were young girls, gave them the confidence to become who they are today. The research shows that over 74% of young girls who express interest in science and technology, usually out perform their male counterparts.
The program objective is to provide an opportunity for girls to learn the skills needed for the future in an environment that is just for them. A place where girls feel comfortable and welcome to investigate science and technology. Our program provides an encouraging environment with positive, relatable role-models to help girls pursue their dreams.
Field Programs work in a similar manner as classroom programs but are aimed at students in the seventh grade and above. The classroom is the outdoors requiring time away, usually overnight stays that can last for up to 3 days on domestic programs and as long as four weeks for international programs. Instructors are University professors and post doctorate candidates all experts in the subject matter.
Field Programs are based on class size, age appropriateness, available materials and staffing. Day trips aboard the RV Morning Star Explorer are available based on relative position of the vessel. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts. Requests for programs are made by teachers or schools through the "Teachers" portal. The exception is Scientific Diver Training. Please review requirements under "American Academy of Underwater Sciences Diver Certification".
Wildlife Photography and Cinematography
In today’s modern world, wildlife and natural settings are rapidly diminishing. Photography and Cinematography are becoming essential tools for scientists in carrying out their work. Scientists that know how to utilize film can create digital records of their discoveries and share them with interested audiences. Scientific photographs and films are a powerful means to inspire others to take action to preserve the natural world. Filming for science requires special skills in dealing with the environment and wildlife.
The class objectives are:
1. Familiarize students with the role of the wildlife photographer and cinematographer.
2. The basics of travel preparation and planning.
3. How to use indigenous populations to insure you find your subjects.
4. Camping, hiking and survival skills.
5. How to position yourself to capture your subject on film quickly when the opportunity arises.
6. The various types of equipment used by wildlife photographers and cinematographers.
7. Techniques used in underwater photography and cinematography.
8. How scientist use film in their research.
9. Patience, you can spend hours, days and even months to get the footage you need. Nature and wild animals have a tendency to be difficult to predict.
10. Career guidance and information in photography and cinematography.
The class will make several day trips and will spend a week in the field. Students who wish to pursue a course of study in wildlife photography or cinematography, should pursue a degree in zoology with a minor in photography or cinematography.
Transportation, meals (special needs diet require 4 week notification prior to trip) and lodging will be provided. Students will be require to have a valid passport (passport must not be set to expire within six months of trip date), immunization, hiking boots several shirts and pants preferably long sleeve, 3mm wet suit, dive boots, water proof gloves, dive skin, mask, fins and snorkel. Scuba will require American Association of Underwater Sciences certification and 30 logged dives. Parental and Doctors release will be required. Students should obtain travel insurance and bring all medications. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
Manatee Ecology: Florida Manatee
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. There are four accepted living species; the Western Indo-Pacific Dugong, Amazonian Manatee, West Indian Manatee, and the West African Manatee. The West Indian Manatee is further divided into the Florida Manatee and the Antillean Manatee. The Florida Manatee inhabits the coastal waters of the Florida Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest of the group. They can weigh up to 1300 pounds and achieve lengths of 13 feet. They have no hind limbs and have paddle like arms and tail. Manatees are known for their sensitive tactile hairs that cover their bodies and faces called vibrissae. Vibrissae are blood filled sinuses bound by a dense connective tissue with sensitive nerve endings that provides haptic feedback. Manatee are passive and non-aggressive.
The ability of the Florida Manatee to survive is of great concern. All Manatee's are critically endangered. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the current population trends of the Amazonian Manatee and West Indian Manatee are decreasing, while the dugong and West African Manatee population trends remain unknown.
The class objectives are to learn the natural history of the Florida Manatee and the current conservation trends that will help save the Florida Manatee from extinction. We will study five current research trends regarding the Florida Manatee:
1. Foraging Ecology: Learning the dietary requirements of Manatee's and what measures must be enacted to protect their food sources.
2. Toxicological Effects: The impact of red tide, pesticides and agricultural run-off on Manatee populations.
3. Reproductive Endocrinology: Reproductive events in females is important to help manage and protect wild populations. Protection during reproductive events can increase species numbers.
4. Tagging: Tagging individuals helps estimate the total distribution and number of individuals which helps predict the species ability to avoid extinction.
5. Habitat Alteration: The destruction of habitats and the impact humankind has on altering the behavior of Manatee's.
There will be a field trip to the Crystal River, Florida to see and learn about Manatee's in their natural setting. Wet suits and education materials will be supplied. Students will need a set of dive boots, water proof gloves, dive skin, mask and snorkel. Optional a 3mm wet suit. Transportation and meals will be provided. Parental release will be required. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
Coral Reef Ecology
Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor and contain an estimated 2 million species. They are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They provide an extensive complex of habitats for thousands of species of animal life. In recent years, they have become increasingly important as potential sources for new drugs. Pharmacy schools and drug companies are expending major resources to search the reefs and oceans for new compounds that can be converted into new classes of life saving drugs.
The world’s coral reefs are also in crisis. Scientists are concerned, that in a few decades, these “rainforests of the sea” and all their rich biodiversity could disappear completely. Coral Reefs face numerous threats, such as, destructive fishing practices, friendly tourism, pollution, sedimentation, global warming and ocean acidification. The affects are accelerating the decline of corals worldwide.
The class objectives are: to learn about coral ecology, the importance coral reefs play in biomedicine, current trends in coral conservation and the latest trends in aquaculture that may save reefs around the globe. We will learn and participate in:
1. Coral Fragging: We will learn how scientists segment a piece of coral to produce several new corals and how the progeny are used to repopulate reefs. This is one of many strategies that will help preserve and restock critical species.
2. Coral Reef Watch: NOAA uses satellite data on sea surface temperatures to understand the trends in ocean warming and to monitor the health of reefs. We will visit NOAA and see how this works.
3. Ocean Medicine: Coral reefs are being explored by pharmaceutical companies to produce new medicines that are used to treat Cancer, Alzheimer's and HIV. We will learn how some pharmacy schools are training students to explore the oceans.
4. Coral Reef Management: We will learn current trends in conservation management that are being used to help protect and preserve coastal reef systems.
There will be a field trip to Cayo Cochinos, Honduras. Cayo Cochinos is a small barrier island that is the southern gateway to the second largest coral reef in the world. Once there students will assist scientists in reef surveys. The surveys will gauge the health of the reef, distribution of species, population numbers, water quality and conditions.
Transportation, meals (special needs diet require 4 week notification prior to trip) and lodging will be provided. Students will require a valid passport (passport must not be set to expire within six months of trip date), immunizations, 3mm wet suit, dive boots, water proof gloves, dive skin, mask, fins and snorkel. Scuba will require American Association of Underwater Sciences certification and 30 logged dives. Parental and Doctors release will be required. Students should obtain travel insurance and bring all medications. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
Rainforests cover just 2% of the Earth's land surface and they are home to over two-thirds of all the living land species on the planet. One quarter of the medicinal compounds we use today come from plants endemic to rainforests. They produce oxygen, clean the atmosphere of carbon dioxide, stabilize the earth's climate and they are a major factor in the water cycle. Unfortunately, rainforests are disappearing at the rate of 6000 acres per hour.
The class objectives are: Learn the diversity contained in and around rainforests, the importance and influences rainforests have on world health, current trends in biomedicine and what efforts are being made by UNESCO to protect these world heritage sites. Students will also learn:
1. Species Preservation and Management: We will learn how species and forest management may save the many plants, animals, insects and habitats that are facing extinction and destruction and how the Species Survival Plan is helping to reverse this alarming trend.
2. Medical: We will discover and learn about the current research into the biota that may someday produce lifesaving cures.
3. Conservation: We will learn how our world health is dependent on a vibrant and healthy Rainforest.
4. Exploration: We investigate new places in the forest and see how scientists uncover new plant, animal and insect species.
There will be a field trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest where students will study forest stratification, assist scientists in flora and fauna surveys, gauge the health of the forest, locate new species of plants, animals and insects for potential medicinal uses, cataloging and quality assessments.
Transportation, meals (special needs diet require 4 week notification prior to trip) and lodging will be provided. Students will be required to have a valid passport (passport must not be set to expire within six months of trip date), immunizations, hiking boots several shirts and pants preferably long sleeve, hiking shorts and boots. Parental and Doctors release will be required. Students should obtain travel insurance and bring all medications. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
American Academy of Underwater Sciences Diver Certification
Scientific diving is performed solely as a necessity to scientific research. The American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) is a non-profit organization, dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of standards of practices for scientific diving. The AAUS is concerned with training programs that exemplify safety, state-of-the-art diving techniques, methodologies and practices. Scientific diving programs allow research diving teams to operate under exemption from OSHA commercial diving regulations. The program objective is to certify emerging scientist as AAUS divers. Students are taken on a case by case basis. We encourage you to inquire to see if you qualify. This course work is open to students at the college and university level who are pursuing a degree or advanced degree in marine biology.
Transportation, meals (special needs diet require 4 week notification prior to trip) and lodging will be provided. Students will require a valid passport (passport must not be set to expire within six months of trip date), immunizations, 3mm wet suit, dive boots, water proof gloves, dive skin, mask, fins and snorkel. Parental and doctors release will be required. Students should obtain travel insurance and bring all medications. Trip(s) may be subject to review by participating school districts and require prior approval.
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