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The Institute's mission is to cultivate a responsibility for the natural environment and our human communities through interdisciplinary science education. We achieve this goal through innovative marine science education programs that: Place students of all ages in direct contact with the natural environment; Emphasize the interdependence of all living things, their connection to the physical environment, and the special responsibilities of humans to the environment; Facilitate active learning through the use of observation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in a cooperative setting; and Instill confidence, encourage involvement, and inspire accomplishment by providing positive role models.
Our programs allows elementary through college-aged students to be marine scientists for a day. Over the past 35 years, we have continuously tailored our science programs to meet the needs of schools. We constantly endeavor to create a program experience that satisfies the teachers' specific educational requirements and support the California State Board of Education Science Content Standards. Discovery Voyages are four-hour explorations of the San Francisco Bay on board our 90-foot research vessel, the Robert. G. Brownlee. Elementary-college students rotate through four stations where they use authentic marine research equipment to conduct science. On these trips, students focus on Ichthyology, Plankton, Hydrology, and Benthos. Land Programs are conducted in Redwood City at MSI's oyster shell beach, pier, aquariums and Discovery Lab. Students work at two to four stations to study fish, benthic invertebrates, plankton, hydrology (water chemistry), sharks, and marine mammals. They use professional-grade oceanographic equipment to take mud grabs, "seine" fish, and collect and test water and plankton samples. In the Ocean Lab program, students handle live animals and use microscopes, keys, and the scientific method to examine five different phyla of tidepool invertebrates and fish, their interrelationships, and their ecology. We also take sharks, fish, crabs, and other marine life out to the schools using a trailer-mounted aquarium. This program can be tailored to the class' needs by focusing on whatever theme or habitat is appropriate to their current curriculum.