K-12 Field Trips and Virtual Experiences

On Campus or Virtually

In-Person Field Trips


Virtual Experiences 

K-12 School Programming

“These experiences offered at CSI are directly related to the curriculum taught in 8th and 9th grade EES…Students loved this…some even mentioned, ‘I want to be a scientist now, this is so cool!’”

“Great Interdisciplinary programs”

“We were here for just a short visit and the staff was so accommodating with creating a meaningful and informative program.”  – Educator Evaluations

The opening of the CSI state-of-the-art research and education campus on Roanoke Island in December of 2012 has provided many new opportunities for science education on the Outer Banks. The K-12 programs utilize the location of the campus on the Croatan Sound, and students work in the science labs and teaching spaces within the facility.  Students will use some of the same scientific processes and equipment that our researchers and scientists use while studying the coastal processes of northeastern North Carolina.

The Institute currently has program offerings for the following groups, and many programs can be adapted for additional ages.

  • Home School Groups
  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • High School

Please contact David Sybert at 252-475-5451 or sybertd@ecu.edu with any questions or to schedule a program.  There is a $10 per person programmatic fee for each program which must be paid in advance of the program. 

Elementary School Programs

Ocean Energy Potential

Students will learn about CSI’s mission to extract energy from ocean waves, currents and tides.  Participants will view technology used in ocean research, participate in a series of activities to understand the process of harnessing power from the ocean and learn the basics of oceanographic processes.

 Standards: 5.P.2, 6.P.1.1, 6.E.1.1, 6.E.2.2, 7.P.2, 7.E.1, 8.P.2, 8.E.1


Who Left This Ship Here?

Students get to “uncover” the identity of a mock shipwreck at CSI through measurements and data collection.  They will discover some of the unique maritime history of this area of North Carolina and measuring techniques, math and drawing will be used to document what remains of the ship.

Standards: 5.C.1, 5.g.1, 6.E.1, 8.H.1, 8.H.2, 8.E.1, 8.L.E

Middle School Programs

Marine Technology

This program highlights the technology used by CSI to collect oceanographic and estuarine data. Students have the opportunity to construct an observational buoy or Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV).

Standards: PSc.1.2, Phy.1.2, HS.TT.1, Chm.2.1, 5.E.1, 5.L.2, 6.L.2, 7.E.1, 8.E.

Exploring Estuaries – An Ecosystem of Its Own

Students get to explore the local estuarine system through data collection of water and plankton sampling, seining, soil cores or wetland mapping.

Standards: 5.L.2, 6.L.1, 6.L.2, 7.L.1, 8.E.1, 8.L.3, Bio.2.1, Bio.2.2, EEn.2.2

Sustainable Coastal Communities

This program investigates promoting economic growth on the Outer Banks while preserving our fragile while considering the needs of the citizens and the ecosystems.

Standards: Bio.2.1, Bio.2.2, EEn.2.2, EEn.2.4, EEn.2.7, EEn.2.8, .L.2, 5.E.1, 6.E.2, 8.E.1


High School Programs

Amazing Oysters

Oysters play an important role in the Albemarle and Pamlico estuarine system.  Students investigate the biological relationships found among the shells of an oyster reef, identify different species of aquatic life, and measure the oyster growth and size as they explore an oyster clump straight from the Croatan Sound.

Standards:Bio.2.1, Bio.2.2, Bio.3.5, EEn.2.2, EEn.2.4


Water in Motion: Orbital Waves

Students will explore concepts of energy transfer through orbital waves by observing different wave characteristics in a research wave tank. Students will use the data they have collected to solve mathematical equations to figure out the energy available, wave steepness, etc.

Standards: PSc.3.1, PSc.3.2, Phy.2.1, Phy.2.2  

Power Potential: Ocean Energy

In this program, students investigate the CSI program focused on harnessing renewable energy from ocean waves and currents. Students will attempt to engineer a device that can turn the kinetic energy of a wave to electrical energy.

Standards: PSc.1.1, PSc.1.2, PSc.3.1, PSc.3.2, PSc.3.3, EEn.2.8, Phy.2.1, Phy.2.2, Phy.2.3  

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


ECU’s Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU’s Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.




The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


The CSI Board of Directors consists of professionals with strong backgrounds in coastal issues including research, development, outreach, education, and policies that affect coastal communities. The Board promotes the UNC System’s mission in helping it serve the people of North Carolina at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor at the Coastal Studies Institute. The Board meets twice a year to discuss the projects and progress of CSI.


Contact Us

Contact Info

The Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345
Wanchese, NC 27981



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