Children at the HMSC Visitor Center tidepool touch tank

Life-long marine science learning

Oregon Sea Grant has a long and rich involvement in marine education, both formal and informal.

Generations of students and their teachers have benefited from Sea Grant marine science education programs at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, with its unique combination of laboratories, classrooms, and public aquarium and exhibit space.

We've provided thousands of graduate and undergraduate students with first-hand learning opportunities in marine science, policy, resource management, and related fields. And uncounted coastal visitors have enjoyed and learned from such popular public programs as our Oregon Coast Quests.

Today, much of our attention is focused on learning just what it is that makes such "free-choice" learning opportunities work, and how they can be improved. In addition to supporting graduate programs in Free-Choice Learning through OSU's Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, Sea Grant operates the HMSC Visitor Center as a living laboratory. There, scholars and students study the science learning that happens when people choose to visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums in their leisure time.

Since the Free-Choice Learning program's launch in 2004, it has become nationally recognized for its innovation; in 2011, a team led by Sea Grant's Shawn Rowe was awarded a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation - the largest grant ever received by Oregon Sea Grant - to develop a state-of-the-art free-choice learning lab at the HMSC.

Sea Grant also works with K-12 teachers and their students, providing STEM-appropriate curricula, lesson plans and hands-on-kits on topics ranging from invasive aquatic species to water quality. We are an active partner in the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, providing project management and communication to this broad, coast-wide regional partnership.