Narragansett Bay Classroom

Interpretive Programs


Programs at your School or Location:
Choose from two 45-minute options (Rhode Island locations only). Teachers MUST remain in the classroom or auditorium during the programs. Descriptions of each program are listed below.

OPTION 1: Classroom Program-Science activities and discussion presented in your classroom or at your location by URI Outreach Scientists. Fee: $125 for one group (maximum of 30) at your school or location; $100 each for two groups; $90 each for three groups (all booked either on the morning or afternoon of the same day).

OPTION 2: Auditorium Presentation-Lively illustrated talks for larger groups presented by URI Outreach Scientists. Fee: $200 for each auditorium presentation; maximum two presentations per day (booked either on the morning or afternoon of the same day). School or group must provide audiovisual equipment.

Programs at the Coastal Institute Visitors Center on URI's Bay Campus:

Come to URI's Narragansett Bay Campus for a 45-minute marine-oriented Interpretive Program presented by URI Outreach Scientists. Programs will be tailored for age and interest of the audience. Descriptions of each program are listed below. Also allow 30-45 minutes for visiting Studio Blue, where art and science meet, which is FREE, and the Coastal Institute Bookstore before or after your program.

Fee: $90 for each group (maximum of 30); for school and youth groups.

Chaperones and Logistics: One chaperone for every ten students is REQUIRED; chaperones are not included in the total count and MUST remain with the students at all times. Unfortunately, no indoor lunch facilities are available; however, picnic tables are available outside the Coastal Institute Building.

Reservations: Call or email the Narragansett Bay Classroom Coordinator to make reservations or discuss options for your group, 401-874-6500 or

Cancellation and Payment Policy: A two-week cancellation notice is required for all programs. A $50 charge will be applied to any interpretive program cancelled within two weeks of the scheduled date. Payment due prior to or on the day of the program.

Appropriate Age: E = Elementary; M = Middle; H = High School


Water Bugs

Do your students know their dragonflies from their damselflies? Explore the diversity of larvae and adult insects that inhabit our local ponds and lakes with this hands-on classroom program. Students will learn how to identify common freshwater organisms and will have a chance to sift through fresh pond samples to see what they can find. E M H


Aquaculture Up Close and Personal

Learn about methods used by local aquaculturalists to grow shellfish. Also learn about the impact of shellfish aquaculture on Rhode Island waterways. Shellfish biology, reproduction, and life cycles will be discussed. Aquaculture gear and samples of live shellfish are used for the in-class demonstrations. E M H


Ecology and Evolution

Learn about the tremendous variety of marine organisms found locally and how they have come to play many different roles in the Narragansett Bay ecosystem. See Ecology of Narragansett Bay for the corresponding Coastal Field Trip. M H


Monsters of the Deep

Why do deep-sea animals often look so fierce, yet can come in such small sizes? Explore the variety of shapes and sizes found in deep-sea organisms. Learn how deep-sea creatures find food, avoid predators, and locate a mate. Activities and discussions teach about environmental conditions in the deep ocean and adaptations of organisms to sustain life in this extreme environment. E M H


Marine Mammals

Through hands-on activities and lively discussions, learn about the special adaptations of marine mammals, especially whales and seals. Experience what marine mammals see underwater and listen to how dolphins and whales communicate. Various whale artifacts including baleen, marine mammal photographs, and/or slides develop interest and help illustrate concepts. E M H


The Ocean Bottom

This hands-on presentation gives students the opportunity to see and feel the rocks and mud that make up the seafloor in a variety of ocean environments. Topics covered include ocean environments, sediment distribution, grain size, and how scientists collect rocks and mud from the seafloor. For programs scheduled at the Coastal Institute Visitor Center, the program may include a tour of the Graduate School of Oceanography's Marine Geological Samples Laboratory where university researchers store oceanic rock and core samples. E M H


Volcanoes, the Environment, and the Ocean

Learn how volcanoes form, how they affect the Earth's climate, what role the ocean plays in their formation, and how scientists study them. Participate in demonstrations showing how an eruption occurs and how volcanic glass forms. See a real deep-sea sediment core and examine lava and volcanic glass samples. Audiences of any age are welcome as projects are easily modified for older or younger groups. E M H


Underwater Exploration

Go on an underwater adventure with a marine scientist! Students will learn about adaptations in marine animals that allow them to live underwater. You may even get to meet a few up close! Students will also be exposed to the methods by which humans are able to explore beneath the surface and what gear is necessary to mimic natural adaptations of these amazing marine organisms. This program involves a hands-on lab, a student transformation into a scuba diver, and a movie clip about deep-sea exploration and an ALVIN submersible! E M H


Create a Fish

Students will explore adaptations of fish to life in various marine habitats. Several examples, including strategies for eating and defense, are discussed. Students are then encouraged to create, design, and describe a fish of their own design that will thrive in a habitat of their choice. E


Rhode Island Seashores

Learn all about the sandy beach and the rocky shore through brief discussions of each habitat followed by a half-hour of activities. This program involves lots of touching, including an exploration of things that wash up on a beach, animal and plant identification, plankton observation, and sand examination. E M H



Sand can be made of many different materials-it doesn't have to be mineral or rock in origin. What we call sand is really just a range of particle sizes. If a particle is between 2 millimeters and 20 micrometers in size, it is classified as sand. In this activity, students will look at sand from several different locations. They will learn about the origin of sand and investigate some of its properties. E



The spread of non-native species poses a very grave threat to biological diversity the world over. Who are these creatures? How did they get here? What impact will they have on our native diversity? Is there anything we should do to control them? This program will expose students to the study of non-indigenous species. M H


On the Trail of a Whale

Take on the role of a marine scientist and learn how marine mammals make different vocalization. Participate in an activity tracking "whales" throughout their migration using sound. Visit the Discovery of Sound in the Sea website featuring sounds in the ocean, E M


Anatomy of a Squid: An In-Class Dissection Exercise

Sometimes we can learn a lot about our own bodies by studying the bodies of life-forms very different from us. Squid are marine animals that are easy to dissect, while presenting a very interesting and complex body, both inside and out. In most ways, they are totally alien to humans, but there are some remarkable similarities. This program can complement an anatomy lesson, or be used as a stand-alone anatomical introduction to the biology of marine life (add $2 per person to regular Interpretive Program fees for this in-class, lab-based activity). M H


How Does Science Work?

Scientists conduct research by following a basic blueprint called the Scientific Method. This program introduces students to this concept as well as how scientific experiments are designed and conducted. Beginning with group brainstorming of interesting questions about the natural world, using Narragansett Bay as a primary example, students will formulate hypotheses for the questions they raise and then discuss ways to test these ideas. A specific problem or question from the marine world will also be introduced for the students to apply what they have learned. This program is an ideal companion to a Coastal Field Trip. M H


Career Day-So You Want to be an Oceanographer?

Interested in a program to complement a Career Day at your school? URI Outreach Scientists will tailor marine careers or a marine science program for the appropriate grade level (Interpretive Program fees apply). E M H


Outreach Scientist Programs Designed for Tour Operators, Adult Groups, Summer Programs, and Children's Parties

For tour operators and group leaders seeking educational experiences for adults or parents and summer program leaders seeking educational alternatives for children and youth groups, the Narragansett Bay Classroom can tailor a single field trip or interpretive program, or a suite of programs lasting up to one week or more, to meet your needs.