This summer, high school students interested in the world of ocean studies don’t have to travel to the oceanographic research hub of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. It’s coming to them.
After a successful launch in 2020, Sea Education Association (SEA) is once again offering SEA Quest, an online program designed for high school students from around country – and the world – who share a passion for ocean science, want to make a difference through ocean conservation, and prepare for college at the same time.
The program draws on leading experts in oceanography, marine ecology, maritime history, and nautical science, and is headed by Dr. Richard King. King is SEA’s visiting associate professor of maritime history and literature and the author of the Ahab’s Rolling Sea, A Natural History of “Moby Dick.”
The program’s faculty is a who’s who in ocean education. It includes Dr. Kara Lavender Law, SEA research professor of oceanography, and a groundbreaking authority on ocean plastics; Dr. Sharika Crawford, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy specializing in sea turtles; Shreya Yadav, a coral expert from the University of Hawaii; and Rebecca Kessler, senior editor at MongaBay.com, a popular nonprofit environmental science and conservation news platform.
Many ocean-related topics will be covered. Capt. Chris Nolan, who commanded Coast Guard cutters prior to taking the helm of SEA’s vessels, will provide instruction on navigation, fisheries management and ocean weather; Dr. Heather Page, SEA assistant professor of oceanography, will address the impacts of global warming on coral reef systems; oceanographer and plastics researcher Jessica Donohue will share data on microplastics collected from SEA ships; and Dr. Jeff Schell, SEA professor of oceanography, will guide students through the unique habitat of the Sargasso Sea.
“We’re so excited about this summer’s series, bringing together these extraordinary experts and students from all over the world, giving them the chance to connect and teach each other about the most critical and fascinating issues regarding the ocean environment,” said King. He emphasized that the summer seminar series is not just for marine science students, but for future writers, artists, historians, and conservation activists.
“We also look forward to continuing to connect students to mentors, help them find direction, and feed their passions for the marine environment,” he added.
Students have three two-week summer sessions to choose from: Plastics and Oceanography, Sargassum and Marine Ecology, and Coral and Climate. They may enroll in any one session, or a combination of two or more. Programs begin June 20th and end August 5th.
Students enrolled in the program receive a SEA Quest-Woods Hole Teaching Kit that includes a journal, readings, dry biological samples and hardware for experimentation, allowing them to apply newly acquired skills in marine research in their home neighborhoods. In their twice-daily online meetings students participate in experiments, demonstrations, guest speaker presentations, writing and drawing exercises, regular breakout rooms, and hands-on work with ocean charts and marine science data.
Based on feedback from last year’s foray into online learning, SEA’s interactive approach is a successful one. One student observed a marked difference from typical online learning: “I definitely felt supported. Everyone who I interacted with was kind and understanding… the environment was very positive.”
Students add to their portfolios with a final research project and article in SEA Quest’s online magazine. Along the way, students engage with faculty who share information about their own career paths and offer advice on future studies and careers.
“I learned a lot from the guest speakers in a short period of time and it gave me insight to what I want to study in college,” said a student who attended last summer’s program. Added another: “All of [the guest speakers] were awesome. I loved having them come in and both describe their work as well as how they got to where they are.”
Students end the program with a broader sense of the ocean’s importance to our planet and of the need to preserve this precious resource for future generations.
SEA Quest is now accepting applications for the summer of 2022. For more information go to https://sea.edu/program-list/sea-quest/