Field-based Learning for K-12 Students at Seahorse U

At Seahorse U, our motto is conservation through education. Register your K-12 group for immersion in field lab experiences that use sound science to explore and explain watersheds, estuarine and marine ecology, and the organisms that call the Nature Coast home.

Participants will leave Seahorse Key with enhanced ocean literacy and environmental appreciation.

Group photo of students on the observation deck
Seahorse U Participants observe a marine organism
The RV Discovery
Students gather for a group photo after a day of learning at Seahorse U
Seahorse Key Lighthouse

Customize your experience by choosing from the following field learning modules:

Seahorse U Trawl

During this field lab, students monitor water quality, collect marine animals, and learn about seagrass beds. Through short trawls sampling seagrass habitat, marine specimens are collected.  Students closely examine and identify representative organisms.  The relationships among water quality, habitat, species diversity, and ecosystem health underlie this module.

Seining Seagrasses

During this field lab, students learn the importance of seagrass ecosystems.  Students seine the seagrass bed along Seahorse Key’s back beach, examine and identify marine organisms, and discuss their structural features.  The relationships among water quality, habitat, species diversity, and ecosystem health underlie this module.

Marine Margins: Mangroves, Marshes, Oysters Bars, and Beaches

Mangroves and salt marshes provide habitat for numerous marine animals and protection for our shoreline.  During this module, we explore these systems to develop a greater understanding of their form and function.  Oyster beds serve an important role in many estuarine systems.  Here, we discuss the importance of oyster bars, examine organisms associated with oyster bed communities, and dissect oysters to identify their the organs.  Many animals found along marine margins depend on slime for locomotion, protection, and even capturing food.  Students will learn about slime, make it, and take some home!

Amazing Animal Adaptations

Whether on land, under water, or in the sky, animals are well adapted to meet their needs of food, water, shelter, and space.  Look closely at an animal’s features and you will learn how they interact with their surroundings.  During this field module, students sample and study marine organisms to decipher their natural history. Students also observe various bird species and enjoy activities highlighting how adaptations reflect an animal’s lifestyle.

Microplastic Mayhem 

Marine debris destroys the quality of marine habitat.  Microplastics (plastic pieces smaller than 5 mm) are an especially difficult environmental problem.  During this module, students learn about the origin of microplastics and their environmental impacts.  They also contribute to citizen science by sampling, recording, and reporting data; including them in an effort to monitor microplastics throughout the Gulf of Mexico.  In addition, students roll up their sleeves to clean up a short section of shoreline, diminishing the pervasive presence of plastics!

Marine Food Webs: Plankton to Top Predator

From phytoplankton to sharks, all organisms need energy!  During this module, students sample the base of marine food webs – plankton - and discuss its diversity and function in our ocean.  Students sample additional marine organisms and analyze the feeding relationships among them.

Field Sampling to Find Answers

Science involves asking questions and finding answers through observation, measurement, analysis, and explanation.  During this field lab, students utilize the scientific method to formulate hypotheses about components of marine systems, collect and analyze data, and evaluate and discuss their findings.

Can’t wait to SEA you at Seahorse U!

For more information, including rates, please email Kate Hellgren, khellgren@ufl.edu, or call her at (352) 846-0888.

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