Sandy Hook, NJ – Over 325 middle school students and teachers, from Martin Luther King Jr. PS #11, The Cambridge School, Our Lady of the Lake, Thorne Middle School, Noble Leadership Academy, Lincoln Elementary School, Sacred Heart School, The Pennington School, St. Joseph School, Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth, and Brookside School joined scientists and local educational professionals for a day of learning on the beach.  On the first day of Clean Ocean Action’s two-day Annual Spring Student, students experienced hands-on marine environmental education by participating in six learning table activities and twelve interactive fieldtrips.  The beaches, trails, and marshes of Sandy Hook served as the outdoor classroom for the seaside symposium.

bay_beach“Students get a close-up look at their coastal world during the Summit,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.  “They experience holding a horseshoe crab and learn about water testing.  There is an extraordinary learning opportunity from these experiences.  Students are in awe of the creatures and we hope they are inspired to protect these natural wonders,” she added.

Students participated in six hands-on learning table activities, which included live horseshoe crabs, identifying seashells, studying living invertebrates, observing a model of nonpoint source pollution, and learning the lethal effects of litter on the marine environment.  Students from the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, a Monmouth County vocational high school located on Sandy Hook, served as peer teachers at the activity workstations.

In addition, naturalists and other education professionals led students in twelve field activities throughout the park.  Students used seine nets to collect and identify common marine species of Sandy Hook Bay and learned about key bird species and the important role of Sandy Hook in bird migration.  Students also participated in a beach cleanup, tested water quality, learned fishing techniques, and traversed trails with park naturalists.

“During the Summit, students become scientists for a day by exploring the local environment here at Sandy Hook.  The Summit instills students with a sense of stewardship that is necessary for protecting the environment in the future,” said Meg Gardner, Clean Ocean Action’s Citizen Outreach Coordinator, and organizer of the program.

The 2011 Spring Student Summit was made possible by donations from private foundations, businesses, and citizens.


About COA’s Student Summits:

For 23 years, Clean Ocean Action’s Summits have reached thousands of school students in New Jersey, expanding learning beyond the classroom.  The Summit program presents students with an interdisciplinary marine and environmental education experience that complements the NJ Science Standards.

COA invites northern and central New Jersey public and private schools to the Spring Student Summit, which is held in

mid-May at Sandy Hook.  The Fall Student Summit takes place in early October, at Island Beach State Park for southern public and private schools.  Schools are mailed applications prior to the Summits and are accepted based on the application and availability.  Over the years, more than 15,000 students have been inspired by the symposium by the sea.

For information on additional COA educational programs or events, visit or call COA’s Main Office at (732) 872-0111.

photo: Allan Dean