NESS Educational Program Guide

Educational Program Guide

Grades Pre-K - 4

Science/STEM, Travel

Plant seeds come in all shapes and sizes. Students discover ways that plants can disperse their seeds to ensure their best survival. Students will experiment with real plants, look for specialized seed adaptations using magnifying glasses and microscopes, and compare some dispersal mechanisms to those of algae. Students will engineer their own seed design and enter it into the seed dispersal competition.

Science/STEM, STEM Adventure

Choose a Little Technaut challenge that can include driving a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), manipulating microscopes to discover the tiny world of plankton, using iPads to compare the human body to a Killer Whale, or trying out document cameras for closer inspection of corals, fish skeletons, crab claws, and more.

Science/STEM, STEM Adventure, Adaptive Program

Try a new sport in a safe and fun way! Students get a taste of sailing, kayaking, surfing, or windsurfing and investigate the effect they can have on the motion of an object in this STEAM adventure program.

Science/STEM, Travel

Explore the power, force, and basic concepts of potential and kinetic energy through experimentation. Students will use Hot Wheels® cars and ramps to further investigate energy by modifying ramp heights while analyzing speed.

Sailing, Science/STEM, Adaptive Program

Jump aboard one of our 23’ Sonar Sailboats and discover the science of sailing. Students learn to work as a team while a NESS educator teaches the basics about how a boat works, why we need wind, and what simple machines are involved in propulsion. Sail safely around our harbor making keen observations during this wonderful sailing experience.

Science/STEM, Travel

Explore the deep sea, ocean coast, and even Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV’s)! Students will discover the importance of ROVs and get a taste of driving a model ROV in a simulation tank. Students will experiment with densities, buoyancy, and surface area.

Science/STEM, Travel

Inspect plant and animal adaptations while relating morphological findings to survival in a changing environment. Students will perform a squid dissection to look in depth at how different features help an animal survive and thrive.

Science/STEM, Travel

Students use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to undertake exciting challenges. Choose from a variety of challenges that can include Biomimicry, Momentum & Forces, Wind Power Investigations, Density Discoveries, Catapults, Bridge Designs, Boat Keel Experiments, or the Boat Pitch and Roll Contest using protractors & angles.

Grades 5 - 8

Science/STEM, Travel, STEM Adventure

Learn basic navigation skills while participating in the fun hobby of geocaching. Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt using a GPS device! Students become explorers as they learn about navigation on land and sea, investigate how compasses and GPS work, and go geocaching!

Science/STEM, Sailing

Sailing is a fantastic avenue to actualize STEM education in an exciting, real-life application. Students learn the physics behind sailing, simple machines, basic navigation principles, or another US Sailing REACH module as they actually climb onboard and experience the incredible feeling of sailing! Choose to use small Opti trainers or our 23’ Sonar sailboats to get underway.

Science/STEM, Travel

Explore important and fun Simple Machines. Students apply all 6 types of simple machines in experiments with ramps, catapults, pulleys, and contraptions. Students will make hands-on connections to what types of simple machines are found in our everyday lives.

Science/STEM, STEM Adventure, Adaptable program

Try your hand at fishing and crabbing safely from the NESS docks. Students will use underwater viewing cameras and a BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Viewer) to aid the search. They will identify their catch and look into animal behavior while the animals are kept momentarily in the NESS holding tank. Choose to add a science fishing theme including conservation & management, simple machines, fish behavior, or fish methods. Catch and release only.

Science/STEM, Travel

Students will design, engineer, and compete in teams against fellow classmates as they build a land sailor that harnesses the power of wind using a sail, a PVC frame, and wheels. Students will calculate speed as they experiment with different frame designs, sail shapes and sizes, and wheel placement. Extensions can include sail area calculation, weight impacts, mechanical advantage, and angle measurements to create a land sail that can travel upwind!

Science/STEM, Travel

Learn and build on knowledge pertaining to green technology and innovation with a lesson in hydropower, wind power, or biomimicry. Students will discover some changes to directly influence their own lives, homes, or communities. Students will discuss current real-world models, design prototypes, solve problems, and learn more about our environmental influences.

Science/STEM, STEM Adventure, Adaptable program, Travel

Gain local knowledge and experience on the water while exploring our local ecosystems. Choose between sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, tide pools, Stonington Harbor, or the NESS dock pilings. Delve into our watershed’s physical properties and feed some of the amazing animals that live in the NESS aquariums. Can’t come to NESS? Choose a habitat near you!

Science/STEM, STEM Adventure, Travel

Gain confidence, paddle techniques, and boat safety skills all while exploring your local ecosystem. Students will tour a watershed by kayak, build a watershed in our Augmented Reality Sandbox, and discover how a watershed holds the water we need to survive. This program can be modified for travel.

Grades 9-12 & AP Classes

Science/STEM, STEM Adventure

Students learn geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts in this unique addition to the NESS curriculum. Read a topography map, understand the meaning of contour lines, and learn about watersheds and catchment areas. The sandbox utilizes a camera, data projector, and powerful simulation and visualization software to produce topography models that students can shape with their hands using real sand. Their structures are then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. Grades 6 – 12

Science/STEM, Travel

Calling all engineers and divers for this one-day challenge! In teams, students will draft, design, engineer, and compete against fellow classmates as they attempt to build their own Marine Advanced Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle. This program focuses on buoyancy, pressure with depth, density, and hydrodynamic shapes and sizes, and teaches students to work quickly and efficiently as a team. Students will have an opportunity to challenge each other through in-water simulations and a course to test their ability to maneuver their vehicle. Induct your students into the NESS “Abyssal Hall of Fame!” Grades 6-12

STEM Adventure

Join a NESS USCG licensed captain and gain skills to safely operate a powerboat on the water. Students will take to the water as they learn basic powerboat maneuvers in one of our 17’ whalers, including docking and anchoring. Upon successful completion of the on-water and classroom modules, students will receive their US Sailing/US Powerboating Safe Powerboat Handling Certificate. Students will also have satisfied the Connecticut and Rhode Island state requirements to obtain their Safe Boating Certificate. NESS is a US Powerboating certified powerboat training center. Grades 6 – 12, students must be 12 years old.

Science/STEM, Sailing, Adaptable program

Science by Sail offers a variety of options while sailing aboard one of our 23’ Sonar sailboats. These sailboats are catalysts for learning about our local ecosystems. Understand the physics behind sailing, simple machines, and basic navigation. A NESS educator facilitates the learning process as the group safely navigates around Stonington Harbor and Fishers Island Sound.

Science/STEM, Travel

Work in teams to engineer a prototype aquaponics system. Construct an aquatic flow system, balance water inputs, and outputs through a series of components, and understand the dynamic forces that work to keep fish and plants flourishing in an aquaponics system, while making connections with nutrient cycles. Be introduced to some current aquaponic ventures to gain inspiration and to compare your newly designed models. Grades 3-12


Oxygen is one of the most essential components for life on our planet. However, oxygen is not always readily available to animals and plants in the ocean. Through this hands-on laboratory session, students will develop and test a hypothesis regarding dissolved oxygen levels in the harbor at NESS. Students will collect water samples at varying depths and analyze them for dissolved oxygen content. A class discussion will determine whether or not the results correspond to their hypothesis and why. Please note this AP Biology Lab is a 2-hour program.

Science/STEM, Travel

This three-component study will have students getting up close and personal with plankton, algae and intertidal marine species. Students will compare biodiversity and complexities of the Long Island Sound coastline. Explore by foot to analyze species zonation, investigate native versus invasive species, and compare zonation maps. Investigate plankton and algae using

microscopes and learn how they provide the basis of the food web to our oceans. Can’t come to NESS? Choose an ecosystem close to you! Please note this AP Biology Lab is a 3-hour program.