Educational Programs at NESS

NESS for Schools & Organizations

Teachers are turning to NESS to help them expand their students’ learning opportunities. Our nationally-recognized, award-winning ocean adventure education programs support your science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum and provide opportunities to get your students out of the classroom and on the water!

NESS’s student-centered, inquiry-based programs – all rooted in the growth mindset – will engage your students in their own learning through our innovative, real-world experiences that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). NESS helps teachers meet the standards by engaging students and creating opportunities for them to demonstrate their thinking and learning. The NGSS and Ocean Literacy Principles enable students to view learning as an interrelated world of inquiry and phenomena rather than a static set of disciplines. NESS’s ocean adventure education programs provide inquiry-based STEM classroom and field expeditions to explore real-world problems.

In November 2018, NESS became the first school partner program to be accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). NESS sought accreditation to demonstrate its commitment and passion to provide the highest quality educational experience for all students, complementing and enhancing students’ traditional school experiences. The NEASC accreditation process combined with the peer review will help NESS continue to advance its mission, vision, core values, and curriculum to address the ever-changing educational landscape.

About Our School Programs

NESS has developed a suite of online experiential learning courses to support the continued education of our students during these challenging times. Our live, educator-led courses span many topics including Weather, Sailing at Home, Plants vs. Seaweed, Plankton, Camouflage, Underwater Exploration, and Marine Debris. We are now offering open enrollment programs, which you can sign up for here. To get your first class free, contact our office at (860)535-9362 to claim your discount code! If you are an educator or school administrator interested in scheduling a program for your students, please contact Pam Gibbs at

NESS’s Supportive Environmental Adventure Learning (SEAL) programs are a powerful way for people with physical or cognitive disabilities to gain confidence through on-the-water adventures. Try sailing, kayaking, robotics engineering, and more! To ensure safety, we must evaluate prospective students on an individual basis to provide a safe and fun learning environment. To learn more about our customized SEAL learning opportunities, please contact

NESS proudly operates out of many different locations including Stonington, CT, New London, CT, and Westerly, RI. All locations provide direct access to pristine brackish water ecosystems, including rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and salt marshes. Whether you’re interested in getting your students to explore the local biodiversity of these ecosystems, paddle the nooks and crannies of the unique waterways, or harness the wind with a sailboat, NESS provides the platform to inspire self-discovery and inquisitive minds.

Can’t come to NESS?

NESS ocean adventure learning can come to you during the academic year and for summer learning opportunities! Explore your school’s backyard environment, find the perfect location for a kayak watershed exploration, and investigate ways to become a steward in your community and natural environment! To learn more about our customized travel program learning opportunities, please contact

Increase academic engagement in your classroom! Participate in a variety of inquiry-based STEM activities and develop skills on how to incorporate NGSS practices and Ocean Literacy curriculum in your lessons. NESS offers professional learning opportunities throughout the year at NESS or at your school. To learn more about our customized programs for educators, please email

All students can benefit from NESS’s programs. NESS’s scholarship program enables outreach to underserved communities and students, providing everyone with opportunities for experiential learning, personal growth, and stewardship of our communities and environment. Schools qualify for NESS scholarships based on the percentage of students that are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. To find out if your school qualifies, please contact us at 860.535.9362 or email.

Continue student learning through the summer with a NESS ocean adventure. Bring your summer camp, youth group, or recreation program to NESS Westerly for a kayak expedition, a guided snorkel, seine net biodiversity sampling, and more! Work with the NESS adventure educators to provide high-quality youth programming that empowers students to push their summer learning limits and grow skills in teamwork, communication, perseverance, self-confidence, and self-control. To learn more about our customized summer learning opportunities, please email

Customize Your Own Program

Educational Programs at NESS

Studying something different with your class? Looking for the perfect team-building program or field trip? Work with us to customize your own program and meet your students’ learning needs. Coordinate our programs with your curriculum by selecting from various marine science, adventure sports, and/or sailing options. Utilize our unique waterfront and facility, the marine science lab and/or our extensive fleet of watercraft to create your own exciting, engaging, and hands-on ocean adventure program.

NESS can accommodate up to 60 students by rotating groups through engaging stations. Our most popular field trip is set up with 3 rotations, and can include any classes listed on our Educational Programs page (link to educational programs page), and usually combines the following subjects:

Rotation 1: Sailing
Rotation 2: Kayaking
Rotation 3: Marine Science (i.e. plankton lab, touch tanks, exploring local tide pools)