'Hands-on, Feet Wet'; marine education progam for teens

A bird
A bird's eye view of a snail, among the many marine species studied a year ago in the pilot program for Spring Street International School's Inland Ocean Studies Program.
— image credit: Contributed photo

— Submitted by SSIS Inland Ocean Studies Director Caroline Grauman-Boss

It was just over a year ago that President Obama proclaimed Washington State’s San Juan Islands "a refuge of scientific and historic treasures and a classroom for generations of Americans."

In line with these educational ideals, Spring Street International School has launched Inland Ocean Studies, an immersive summer program for 14-18 year olds devoted to marine science and maritime ecology. The program’s goal is to introduce inquisitive young people to world-class scientists researching the marine environment of these biologically diverse islands.

Group shotIn the pilot program last summer, students from the islands, Puget Sound region, and across the nation were immersed in field and lab research with scientists and program partners from the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories, SeaDoc Society, National Parks Service, and Northwest Maritime Center.

Over the course of the three-week program, high school students were transformed from individuals with a passion for marine biology to a cohesive and effective scientific research team with the ability to analyze data, form opinions, and converse intelligently and confidently.

Matt Stepita, a 17-year-old participant from Friday Harbor called the Inland Ocean Studies Program, “A great hands-on learning experience.”

The program is indeed “hands-on” and also “feet wet”, according to Inland Oceanic Studies Director, Caroline Grauman-Boss.

A participant from last summer, Lisa, now a first year biology major at Seattle University, wrote recently: "the program has definitely given me an advantage! A couple of the labs we had in school reminded me of the research we did. I was very familiar with research and at knowing what to do. It was a great opportunity to have been a part of the program. I learned so much, and it was great to get to know everyone in our group."

This summer, the program will consist of two three-week sessions (June 21 - July 12 and July 19 - August 9). A seven-week Summer Semester, for which participants can earn two high school science credits, will run from June 21 – August 9.

Tuition for three weeks is $3,900.

Engaging young people in this work is increasingly imperative, locally and globally. The SISS Inland Ocean Studies Program is appealing to islanders to help “Fund a Future” by sponsoring a promising island student.

More information is available on Spring Street International School’s website:, or by calling SSIS Inland Ocean Studies Director Caroline Grauman-Boss, 360 378-6393.



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