Research Methods in Marine Science

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

During this two-week course, students will be introduced to the many diverse habitats that together create the dynamic estuarine ecosystem of Narragansett Bay, the multiple branches of marine science, and current research methods employed in the field. Through direct, hands-on learning students will engage in real world research methods utilized by marine scientists around the world to study biotic and abiotic aspects of the Bay.

Each day will involve either class/lab time at Save the Bay’s Bay Center, immersion directly into the habitat being studied (by land or boat) with a focus on authentic data collection, or visits to local universities with scientists and researchers employing these techniques in their day-to-day work. The data collected during the course will be analyzed by students in a culminating report, where they will articulate the findings of their work to an audience of their peers.

Students will first walk away from this course with a general understanding of the four branches of Oceanography: Physical, Chemical, Biological, and Geological. A concrete understanding of the living and non-living factors affecting marine systems will build the foundation for further studies of the bay through the two weeks. In addition, an increased familiarity with the diversity of coastal marine habitats will give students an understanding of the complexity of Narragansett Bay as an estuarine ecosystem, as well as the important roles estuaries play in the health of all marine systems around the globe.

Completion of the course will result in students gaining familiarity with many scientific tools and instruments, typically reserved for collegiate-level research, used to gather data about the Bay, and shed light into how they are used in collecting accurate and reliable data. Through introductions to both local researchers and to current peer-reviewed journal articles, students will gain an understanding of the many applications of the data collection methods they are being introduced to, as well as the many pressing issues on the front lines of marine science research where these data are being applied.

Students will be tasked with taking ownership of a specific aspect of Narragansett Bay research, collecting and recording clear and concise data, and turning that data into a research project. Once collected, the data will be input, organized, analyzed, and interpreted and finally used to articulate their results to their peers. In this process students become true researchers, gaining an abbreviated glimpse into the process of seeing research through from beginning to end.

Students will gain a deeper comprehension of the four branches of oceanography and the many diverse habitats that make up the Narragansett Bay estuary and watershed. Students will gain comfort using scientific sampling methods and equipment including refractometers, T/S/O sondes, trawl & seine nets, for example. Access to journal articles will expose students to expectations of collegiate-level scientific writing. Through data entry and the creation of graphs students will walk away confident in their ability to collect, organize, and analyze data, synthesize and interpret the results, then clearly and concisely articulate findings to their peers in a written and oral report.

Prerequisites: No prerequisite coursework required. It is expected that students have an interest in marine science, ecology, and habitat restoration.

Some meetings will be extended days resulting in potential conflicts with other summer coursework

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEES0921
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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