Resources for California Educators
Coastal Commission Programs and Resources |
Recommended Streaming Videos |
At Home Learning Resources |
California Environmental Education Interagency Network |
California Environmental Education Events Calendar
California Coastal Commission Resources and Programs
WHALE TAIL® Grants Program
Schools (as well as nonprofits and government entities) are eligible to apply to the WHALE TAIL®
Grants Program for funding to support coastal and marine education projects. Educators reaching
underserved communities are especially encouraged to submit
proposals. You may request up to $50,000 and applications are accepted once a year in the fall.
California Coastal Voices
California Coastal Voices is a free,
project-based learning guide and online toolkit for middle and high school teachers. Consisting
of six units, or "projects," that introduce students to coastal conflicts, challenges, and
scientific and policy issues, the emphasis is on problem solving and communication. This
learning guide was designed to address California's Next Generation Science, Common Core, and
History-Social Science standards. Download teacher resources and student activities and access
slideshows, videos, articles, and much more.
Schoolyard Cleanup Program
Want your students to participate in Coastal Cleanup Day but can't get them out on a field
trip to a beach or local waterway? Want to show them that environmentally responsible behavior
can begin at their school and in their own neighborhood? Interested in a real world data collection
and problem-solving experience that takes place right on school grounds and supports your Next
Generation Science Standards? You can organize a Schoolyard
Cleanup any time of year and accomplish all of these goals.
King Tides Project and Sea Level Rise
The California King Tides Project offers many opportunities
for students and teachers in science and humanities. Get ideas on how to incorporate this project into
your classes and also find sea level rise education resources on the
King Tides Resources for Educators page.
Coastal Art and Poetry Contest
The California Coastal Commission invites all California students in grades
K-12 to participate in the Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. The deadline to submit
entries is at the end of January.
Coming Together for the Climate Video Challenge
The Coastal Commission invites California middle and high school students to present a video
response to the question, "How do we come together for the climate?" The entry deadline for this
video challenge was March 31, 2020.
Build Personal Fishing Line Containers
Student groups can help keep fishing line out of our environment by taking part in the
Stow It Don't Throw It program. Students collect used
tennis ball (or similar) packaging and construct personal fishing line canisters that
help people keep their used line contained until they can get it to a recycling station
or dispose of it safely in the garbage. Our Clean Boating Program will distribute the
containers you construct or your students can take them directly to fishing piers, marinas, or boating supply
stores to get them into the hands of people who need them.
Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds Science Activity Guide
Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds
is a classroom and community activity guide, first printed in
2003, that addresses issues such as endangered species, marine debris, coastal
geology, water use, and much more. With groups of lessons for each grade 3
through 8 and Community Action lessons adaptable for all ages up to
and beyond 12th grade.
Our Wetlands, Our World High School Activity Guide
Our Wetlands, Our World provides information and activities to help high school
students learn about the importance of wetlands and to become involved in the
restoration of these valuable, unique environments. The focus of this
2004 guide is on Upper Newport Bay in Orange County, however, most of the content is
applicable to other locations.
Personal Trash Choices Activity
This group activity for youth or adults asks participants
to think about and to argue for how they relate to trash items in their lives.
Plastic Properties Investigation
This demonstration or small group activity has students
investigating the phenomenon of a plastic bottle in water. Does it float? Does it sink? What
are the implications of its properties?
Gallery of Sand
View magnified photos of sand from more than 25 beaches, which can be used
to support sand-related lessons in Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds or as phenomena to launch
other student work.
Measuring a Blue Whale in the Schoolyard
Blue whales are the largest animals known to have lived on earth, and they can be seen right off
the coast of California! Just how big are they? Could a blue whale fit in your schoolyard?
This schoolyard activity offers three methods of increasing complexity
for comparing length and height of large objects.
Save Our Seas Curriculum
Save Our Seas is a marine curriculum of hands-on activities to help students
understand the effects of marine debris on coastal wildlife and habitats.
Written in 1993, it was
designed for K-12 grades and can be used in conjunction with a beach cleanup.
Download a PDF.
Educator's Guide to Beach Cleanups
This Educator's Guide provides specific tips for teachers,
parents, and youth group leaders who plan to do a cleanup with their students, whether for
Coastal Cleanup Day, the Adopt-A-Beach
Program, or independently, at a beach, shoreline, or inland location. It includes practical strategies,
links to lessons and internet resources to enrich the experience, and more.
Coastal Stewardship Pledge
The Coastal Steward Class
Pledge contains activities specifically chosen for the classroom (with background
information on each activity) to take action to protect our coast and ocean.
California Environmental Education Interagency Network
The California Environmental Education Interagency Network (CEEIN) is a state government
consortium of environmental educators representing various state agencies and departments.
Learn about CEEIN and the many environmental education resources available from the State
of California and its partners, and access a statewide calendar of environmental education
events and opportunties.
Recommended Streaming Videos
Community engagement and coastal management:
- 40 Years of the California Coastal Act - 5:22 minutes. Grades 6 and up. This historic law has guided
California to maximize public access to and along the coast. 2019, Rigler Creative. Watch
- California Coastal Trail videos - Multiple videos of around 5 minutes each. Grades 4 and up.
A series of short videos tell the story of segments of the California Coastal Trail, including what
visitors experience there and the journey to getting the trail built. 2016-2019, Rigler Creative. Watch
- Heroes of the Coast - 52 minutes. Grades 9 and up. Recounts the political campaigns in the 1970s that
passed the California Coastal Act and created the California Coastal Commission, told through interviews
with activists and political leaders of the movement. 2013, EarthAlertGlobal.
- Public Access for All on the California Coast - 5:08 minutes. Grades 6 and up. How is California
protecting public access to the coast, and what are the challenges to this goal? 2019, Rigler Creative.
- The California MPA Network: Safeguarding an Underwater Wilderness - 10 minutes. Grades 9 and up.
Learn how MPAs work, the resources they protect, and the people on the front lines working to make them a success.
2018, California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Watch
- A Sheltered Sea—The Southern Passage - 26 minutes. Grades 9 and up. Addresses
the challenges in creating Marine Protected Areas along southern California's coast. 2009, The Baum Foundation. Watch
- Carbon and Climate Change in 90 Seconds - 2:21 minutes. Grades 4 and up. Climate change explained
in simple animation. 2013, NASA. Watch
- Keeping Up with Carbon - 5:39 minutes. Grades 7 and up. The carbon cycle, as it relates to the ocean
and climate change. 2009, NASA. Watch
- Oceans of Climate Change - 2:21 minutes. Grades 5 and up. An oceanographer discusses the heat
capacity of water, performs an experiment to demonstrate heat capacity using a water balloon and describes how
water's ability to store heat affects Earth's climate. NASA. treaming and downloadable.
- Sea Level Rise and the California Coast - 5:33 minutes. Grades 6 and up. How is sea level rise
impacting California's public beaches? How will California respond to this threat and adapt in the future? 2019, Rigler Creative.
- The Role of Ice in the Ocean: What is Sea Ice and Why Is It Shrinking? - 2:09 minutes. Grades 5 and
up. NOAA. Streaming, downloadable and captioned.
- The Role of Ice in the Ocean: Shrinking Ice: Impacts - 2:26 minutes. Grades 7 and up. NOAA. Streaming, downloadable and captioned.
Environmental Justice and redlining:
- Activism and the California Coast - 4:50 minutes. Grades 6 and up. How has activism shaped the
California coast, and what is its role today and in the future? 2019, Rigler Creative. Watch
- Community Voices on Environmental Justice - Grades 7 and up. A series of videos featuring federal
and local government officials, non-profit leaders, and students who tell stories about the lessons that they
have learned over their time working on environmental justice. From 2012-2016, US EPA. Watch
- Kids Belong at the Beach - 4:53 minutes. Grades 6 and up. Why is it important to get more kids
to the California coast, and how is that goal being achieved? 2019, Rigler Creative. Watch
- Segregated by Design - 7:42 minutes. The forgotten history of how our federal,
state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through
law and policy. 2019. Watch
Marine and coastal biodiversity, and general ocean info:
- Beach: A River of Sand - 20 minutes. Grades 6 and up. This classic film describes how
beaches are formed and change and how sand moves along the coast. 1967. Watch
- Between a Rock & a Hard Place - 17 minutes. Grades 2-6. Prepares students
for an ecologically responsible tidepool visit. Recommended for viewing before a field trip.
2002, from California State Parks Orange Coast District. Watch
- Ecosystems of California - From 2-30 minutes long. Grades 9 and up. A series of
videos on California's diverse ecosystems as explained by UC Santa Cruz Professor Erika Zavaleta.
- Fish "Walks" on Beach to Spawn - 4:06 minutes. Grades 5-adult. Every
spring on California's beaches, thousands of tiny fish come ashore to spawn. As beach habitats decline,
volunteer "grunion greeters" are teaming up to study and protect the tiny fish. 2011, National Geographic.
- Invaders from Around the World - 6:25 minutes. Grades 4 to 6. Explanation of
invasive species, from USC Sea Grant. Watch in English or
- Know Your Ocean - 2:37 minutes. All ages. Some general ocean info and fun facts from
NOAA. Streaming, downloadable
- Return Flight - Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands - 14 minutes.
Grades 6 and up. Chronicles how biologists worked
for decades to bring the bald eagle back to the Channel Islands in the face of pervasive DDT
contamination. Download a free Classroom Study Guide for Grades 6 to 12 from NOAA Montrose
Settlements Restoration Program. 2011. Watch
- The Allure of Fluorescence in the Ocean - 3:52 minutes. Grades 9-adult.
Why do so many marine animals have bright fluorescent pigments? This video describes how one function
was demonstrated experimentally. 2019, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Watch
- Tsunamis: Know What to Do! - 8 minutes. Grades K-8. Animated short film to educate
kids about Tsunami Preparedness by Ready San Diego.
2009. View video online with Spanish captions or
without Spanish captions.
- Underwater Noise Pollution - 1:52 minutes. Grades 5-adult. Marine animals
use the physical qualities of water to communicate across the seas. But humans also capitalize on the
acoustic properties of water for their own purposes, from sonar to seismic exploration. This animated
explainer highlights the challenges of living in an ocean filled with the "smog" of sound. 2015,
Hakai Magazine. Watch
- Gyre: Creating Art From a Plastic Ocean - 20:14 minutes. Grades 7 and up.
National Geographic program shows an artists' expedition to Alaska with the goal to make art from the trash
found on the beaches. Watch
- Midway Journey - Bottle Caps - 4:18 minutes. Grades 4 and up. Examining the
carcass of a Laysan albatross, and the plastic contents of its stomach, with the Deputy Wildlife
Manager of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Watch
- Midway Journey - Plastic Beach - 2:25 minutes. The seemingly endless
deposition of plastic debris onto a single beach on Midway Island. All ages, however this does
not present any solutions, just the problem. Watch
- Ocean Heroes: The Plastics Problem - 5 Gyres Institute - 2:17 minutes. Grades 9
and up. One World One Ocean interview with Anna Cummins and Marcus Erickson about plastic pollution
in the ocean. Watch
- Our Debris Filling the Sea - 2:36 minutes. Grades 4 and up. NOAA presents
the marine debris problem. Streaming, downloadable and captioned.
- Saving Inky - 20:25 minutes. Grade 2-adult. A pygmy sperm whale
that ingested plastics from the ocean, was treated at the Baltimore Aquarium and then set free.
1994. Video available
for viewing online in three parts.
- Trash in the Deep Sea: Bringing a Hidden Problem to Light - 4:12 minutes. Grades 4
and up. Describes Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's research into debris in the deep ocean. 2013.
- Acid Test: the Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification - 22 min., grades 9 and up.
This video raises awareness of the problem of ocean acidification, stemming
from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 2009, NRDC. Watch
- Ocean Acidification - 3:01 minutes. Grades 7 and up. Animated explanation of ocean acidification.
2012, Alliance for Climate Education. Watch
- Ocean Acidification - 1:49 minutes. Grades 7 and up. The chemistry of ocean acidification,
from North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Watch
The following curricula were developed by other organizations with the support of the
Agua Pura: Examining Salmon and Steelhead in California Communities
This Salmon and Steelhead Curriculum targets
sixth-grade students both in and out of the classroom through multi-disciplinary,
hands-on instruction. It covers information on these critical fish species,
highlights their relationship with healthy watersheds, and explores how
people affect salmon and steelhead and vice versa. The unit was created by
UC Cooperative Extension and Adopt-A-Watershed in 2010.
Albatross Research and Plastic Pollution Prevention
Activities about plastics and seabirds were developed by the organization
Oikonos and updated in 2014 to guide teachers of students in grades 8 - high school. Activities
include dissecting an albatross bolus, categorizing the plastics they eat,
learning about albatrosses, and tracking them via satellite.
Carbon Footprint Calculator
Designed for middle school students and older, this carbon footprint calculator can estimate how
much C02 you consume per year based on practices at home, food you eat, purchases you make, and
your transportation habits. Offered in English and Spanish, this was developed in 2018 as part of
a collaboration between the University of Washington and Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station.
A Guide to the Side of the Sea,
A Teacher's Guide for Field Trips to Rocky Intertidal Areas
A Guide to the Side of the Sea was
produced by California State Parks in 2005. It is designed to assist teachers who
will be taking their students to visit tidepools. This resource includes
science background for educators as well as lessons and activities that can
be used before, during, and after a field trip.
MARE Program (Marine Activities, Resources, & Education)
The Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley developed teacher's guides to marine
environments for grades K-8, with each grade focused on a particular habitat. Students
at entire schools can participate together for an "ocean immersion" experience. A WHALE
TAIL® grant in 2015 funded aligning the units for kindergarten and 1st grade with the Next Generation Science Standards as well as Common Core standards.
Roots to Waves
The SPAWN Program of Turtle
Island Restoration Network trained educators from a variety of cultural backgrounds to become Certified
California Naturalists. As the capstone project for their training in 2017, they developed educational resources
which are now available to download and use. Check out a bilingual bird guide, Spanish-language nature bingo,
a guide to sea turtles, handouts about Chinese immigrants and shrimp in San Francisco Bay, and more.
Youth Exploring Sea Level Rise Science Educator Guide
YESS developed a series of sea level rise lessons for high school students in 2016 through a WHALE TAIL®
grant to the County of Marin. This series involves hands-on, experiential learning and covers: an
introduction to sea level rise causes and impacts; how to collect data, including collecting photographs
through the California King Tides Project
and interviewing community members; and sharing the results of student research. Includes links to
many related resources.