Suggested Research Vessel Trips for High School Students

Most boat programs come with access to optional data analysis labs.  These can be taught by Project O staff after your trip, or we will provide curricular materials for you to teach them back in your classroom.  We also suggest additional programs that would be complementary, if you are interested in making a full day of it at our facility.
Introduction to Oceanography (2.5 hours)
One of our most popular and versatile offerings! Students will literally and figuratively get their hands wet as they investigate the living and non-living components of Long Island Sound, while participating our flagship environmental monitoring program aboard the R/V Envirolab.  Your students will study living organisms in the stern of the boat by hauling a trawl net, doing a plankton tow, pulling a lobster pot, and (on some trips) sorting through a mud grab. In the bow of the boat, they’ll learn how to use a wide range of oceanographic equipment as they investigate physical and chemical aspects of the estuary, including temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, and CO2. Suggested lab: almost any
NEW - Oyster Expedition (2.5 hours or 5 hours; seasonal)
Students will learn about oyster biology, oyster aquaculture, and the important role that oysters play in estuarine ecosystems like Long Island Sound in this special offering, made in collaboration with Mystic Oysters (Noank).  We’ll haul an oyster cage and record size and biofouling data, adding to a long-term growth dataset as we travel by sea over to Mystic Oysters in Noank.  Students will tour this working oyster farm, and even have the opportunity to help out!  Hands-on activities will vary depending on what is happening at the farm that day, but could include oyster feeding and fertilization, prepping broodstock, or even fixing oyster cages.  We’ll also dissect an oyster to examine anatomy and feeding processes. Suggested lab: Plankton, Water Filtration, All Caught Up, Lobsters/Climate Change
Thames River Transect (5 hours)
Students will use a wide range of oceanographic equipment and field chemistry kits to take vertical and longitudinal profiles of water quality along the entire length of the Thames River, a tidal estuary that flows fifteen miles from the junction of the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers down to Long Island Sound.  The Thames River supports critical cultural, economic, and national security infrastructure, including revolutionary war-era fortifications, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Nation reservations, General Dynamics’s Electric Boat submarine shipyard, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the Port of New London, a U.S. Navy Submarine Base, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  Measurements will include temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, CO2, and nutrient concentrations (phosphates, nitrates, and ammonium).  Students will use their data to study how the estuary varies physically from the mouth to the headwaters, and also to examine human impacts on the estuary. Suggested lab: Quantitative Plankton
Sewage Plant Study or Power Plant Study (2.5 hours)
Students will explore human impacts on marine habitats using water chemistry.  We’ll sample nutrient levels and test for fecal coliform bacteria near a sewage treatment plant, or characterize the high temperature water plume in the discharge stream of a power plant.  We’ll also measure temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, and CO2.  Typically taught with a strong focus on water chemistry and physical oceanography.
Suggested lab: Water Filtration
Seal Population Study (2.5 hours; seasonal)
Project Oceanology has been monitoring the seal population in Fishers Island Sound for over 15 years. Participants will census seals at several locations in Eastern Long Island Sound, and also collect data on seal activity levels. Discussion and analysis will focus on seal population distribution and trends in Long Island Sound, and on the behavioral ecology of seals. Suggested labs: Seal Thermoregulation, Pinniped Power
Gull Rookery Study (2.5 hours; seasonal)
Project Oceanology has been monitoring the nesting activity of gulls and other seabirds in Fishers Island Sound for more than 30 years. Participants will work in small teams to count nests, eggs, and chicks on a gull rookery. Discussion and analysis will focus on gull population trends, seabird conservation biology, and the ecological role of seabirds in Long Island Sound. Suggested shore: Marine Debris Shore Program
Sportfishing (2.5 hours or 5 hours; seasonal)
Students will sample for large fish through sportfishing.  Shorter trips will focus on bottom-fishing in Fisher’s Island Sound and Long Island Sound; longer trips may include fishing at ‘The Race’ (entrance to Long Island Sound).  Students and instructors will work together to identify and measure the fish captured.  Discussion will focus on fish ecology and fishery management, species IDs, and form and function of fish.  Suggested labs: All Caught Up, Squid Dissection
Nautical History, Plotting, and Navigation (2.5 hours)
Students will use a compass and a nautical chart to take bearing fixes, find their location, and calculate their course, speed, and time.  They will tour the wheelhouse of the vessel to learn about modern navigation, and learn some of the basics of navigation.  This program may be combined with a tour of historically/nautically important sites, including Fort Griswold, Fort Trumbull, New London Harbor Light, and Ledge Light.  Tours inside Ledge Light are sometimes possible courtesy of the Ledge Light Foundation.

Other High School Programs