At-Home Curriculum

Nature and science are all around us.

Nearly every part of our lives connects to the ocean. Here are some ways you can take Camp SEA Lab home!

Science Experiment

Goal: Simulate ocean acidification’s effects on shells of a variety of invertebrates.

Grades: 6–9

Ocean acidification is the term used to describe the ongoing decrease in pH and carbonate ion availability in the world’s oceans that is a consequence of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Some of the organisms most immediately affected by ocean acidification include sea urchins, abalone, corals, and some species of plankton (such as pteropods and coccolithophores). If the ocean water continues to grow more acidic, these organisms will be unable to form their shells and grow. The loss of these organisms will greatly impact the marine food web.

Ocean acidification may also affect important fisheries. Sea urchins, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp all use calcium carbonate to create their shells and skeletons. These are very important fisheries worldwide. A loss in species population would not only affect the marine food web but would also affect the availability of food for humans as well as a means of livelihood for many people worldwide.


  • White Vinegar
  • Nonreactive containers (glass bowls)
  • 2 each of small, thin seashells (1 or 2”; try slipper, scallop, crab, or small clamshells)
  • Water
  • Heavy Books


  1. Dilute 1 part vinegar in 1 part freshwater. If you have multiple types of seashells, place one of each type in this mixture. Place one of each type in freshwater.
  2. Check on the shells every few hours. Compare differences between what you observe in the freshwater and in the acidic water. Discuss why bubbles are generated and research what the bubbles are composed of.
  3. When the vinegar-digested shells are visibly degraded (a day or two, depending on vinegar mixture strength), drain all the shells and rinse off the vinegar-digested shells. Degraded shells will be dull, pitted, translucent, or even cracked.
  4. Pile books on top of the shells to compare the strength of digested shells and undigested shells. Digested shells should break more easily than undigested shells.
  5. Discuss possible short and long-term consequences for organisms and food webs of weakened shells.

Variations: Try this experiment with more than two solutions. Experiment with different amounts of acid and record how long the shells take to degrade. Or try using shells of differing thicknesses to find out which species are more resilient to ocean acidification.

Creative Craft

Become a Science Illustrator!

Goal: Develop your skills for detailed observation. Learn different features of some of your favorite animals, plants, and items from nature.

Grades: All Ages

Background: Scientific Illustration is one of the many different careers we highlight at Camp SEA Lab. Nature journals are an excellent scientific tool for observation, creativity, and discovery.


  • Item/animal/plant you are illustrating
  • Journal or paper
  • Pencil
  • Watercolors
  • Colored Pencils
  • Computer


  1. Make a nature journal. You either find a journal that is already premade or create your own.
  2. Choose a subject. You can start with something nonmoving, like a shell, plant, or another item from nature around the house. Spend time examining your subject.
  3. Draw your subject in detail. Notice the different textures and features that make it unique and replicate those in your work. Fill in color with watercolors or colored pencils.
  4. After your image is complete, research your subject to learn the scientific names of the different parts, and use this research to label the image.
  5. Once you've gotten comfortable with nonmoving subjects, find living creatures to illustrate. Visit the beach, go to tide pools, look for animals near your home, or use zoo and aquarium live cameras to illustrate some of your favorite animals. Make sure to label them too!

Upcycle old magazines and newspapers into jewelry!

Goal: Have fun, make beads, and divert paper out of the waste stream and into something beautiful.

Grades: All Ages

Background: Upcycling is the process of reusing materials in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Paper degrades in value after it is recycled. By upcycling paper, we divert waste out of the waste stream and turn it into something, fun, fashionable, and eco-friendly!


  • Old newspaper or magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Wooden skewer, chopstick, or toothpick (this will determine the size of the hole in the middle of the bead)
  • String


  1. Choose a piece of paper with the colors that you would like for your bead. Cut the paper into a long, tapering triangle.
  2. Turn the paper over. Place your skewer (or toothpick or chopstick) at the base of the triangle.
  3. Dab the length of the paper with small amounts of glue or use a glue stick along the full length of the triangle.
  4. Roll your paper from the base towards the tip, keeping the triangle as centered as possible.
  5. Roll most of the way to the tip, then add a bit more glue to the tip before rolling that into the bead as well.
  6. Pull your bead off of the skewer. Ta da! You have created a paper bead.
  7. Make many beads to string into a necklace, turn them into earrings, get creative!

Outdoor Exploration

Under construction. Coming soon!


Under construction. Coming soon!

Virtual Resources

At Camp SEA LAB, we love exploring one of Monterey Bay's unique treasures, the Elkhorn Slough. This beautiful and biologically diverse estuary is an incredible habitat for migratory birds, resident sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions, and a wide range of native plants and animals. It is a critical part of our watershed, and plays an important role in helping the environment by purifying the water and sequestering carbon.

Elkhorn Slough has many digital resources to offer. You can participate in sea otter population studies on their live webcams, take a virtual walkabout to learn more about the plants and animals in the reserve, and chat with a naturalist during their Monday Livestreams.

Located just north of Santa Cruz, Año Nuevo Reserve is a part of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System and is home to thousands of marine mammals and birds.

Every year, up to 100,000 people visit the reserve to observe elephant seals. However, the nearby Año Nuevo Island is only visited by researchers and conservation groups that study the many species of nesting birds as well as marine mammals that frequent its shores.

Now the public has the opportunity to get an up-close look at the island, while also helping researchers count the seals and sea lions that call Año Nuevo home. Take a trip around the island to explore the abundance and distribution of life on Año Nuevo Island, and get involved in important scientific research!

By identifying and counting the animals in the drone photos, you can be part of a collaborative project to better understand how many seals, sea lions, and birds are on Año Nuevo Island during different times of the year, and how the population sizes fluctuate between years.

John Muir Laws is a well-regarded local nature journalling author. His most recent book, co-authored with educator Emilie Lygren, is available to download for free. It is called "How to Teach Nature Journaling" and has 31 fun field journaling activities that hone observation skills and build curiosity and wonder about the natural world.

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