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STaRS

Student Training as Research Scientists

Program summary:

STaRS (Student Training as Research Scientists) is a year-long marine science field research training program culminating in a project presentation of the research experience.

 

Students choose one of the following projects:

  • Stormwater STaRS

  • Marine debris STaRS

  • Forage fish STaRS

  • Harbor porpoise STaRS

  • Marine bird STaRS

  • Bigg's Orca STaRS

 

Depending on the project selected, students will conduct field work independently or with a small group. The field work will be discussed virtually as a small group with the project leader throughout the year, in preparation for the final project.
 

Qualifications to enroll:

  • Ability to stay focused and attentive while observing in the field for 2-4 hours 

  • Experience in or willingness to learn public speaking

  • Available for ~30 hours of at home work and ~ 50 hours of field work for the year (4-8 hours per month)​

  • Commits to the virtual project presentation in January 2023

  • Ages allowed to enroll vary based on the project (see below)

  • Must be able to access a Discord channel for group communication

Enrollment closes on December 18, 2021

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Goals:

Stimulate interest in a future career in the field of marine conservation science,

Recruit and train the next generation of marine conservation scientists,

Develop student comfort in an academic and professional setting, as well as provide resources that can ensure higher education success,

 

Provide the opportunity for field research and data collection experience in marine science​.

Students will:

Practice the scientific method,

 

Obtain experience and exposure to research tools, techniques, and marine science advisors/mentors,

 

Understand how science and research can influence policy and action steps for conservation,

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Evaluate scientific literature, and

 

Develop project presentation and science communication skills.​
 

Timeline:

November 21 to December 27, 2021 Registration Open
January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

January 2022 Virtual lessons begin

February to November 2022 Field work begins at various times depending on project

January 2023 Virtual project presentation

 

Each STaRS project includes:

  • inquiry-based virtual lessons with an assigned research scientist from a local organization,

  • independent or group field research on Fidalgo Island or San Juan Island,

  • virtual project presentation,

  • collaboration, review, and discussions with groups of 5 students or less.

Students will choose ONE of the following research topics available, listed below.

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Stormwater Student  Training as Research Scientists

 

Cost: $250

Age: 13-18 years old, independent work

Location: Guemes Channel Trail

Independent field work, land-based

 

Must be ready to sample at unpredicted days/times depending on rain events

 

Must have a ride to take samples to Mount Vernon OR ship them from the Anacortes post office (shipping reimbursed)

Project Leader: Amy Eberling

Scholarships available, program funding help from Department of Ecology

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Observing and tracking the effects of stormwater on the Salish Sea.

 

Students collect samples from a local Anacortes outfall during rain events and send them to a lab. 

 

Students evaluate results (looking for NPDES, Zinc, Lead, NWTPH-DWX-Semi Volatile Petroleum, and PAHs) and determine if there is a general correlation between vehicle numbers and water quality parameters.

Students contribute to an educational pamphlet to hand out to the community.

Requirements:  a flexible schedule for the sample collection months (labeled "Independent field work"). These samples need to be collected during rain events and so are subject to weather.

DRAFT CALENDAR

2022

January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

January - Virtual lesson(s)

January - Independent field work

February - Independent field work

February - Virtual check-in

March - Independent field work

April - Independent field work

May - Virtual lesson(s)

June - Virtual lesson(s)

July - Independent field work

August - Virtual lesson(s)

September - Independent field work

October - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

November - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

December - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

*schedule subject to change

 

2023

January 7, 1 PM - Virtual Project Presentations

Volunteers Collecting Trash on Beach

Marine Debris Student Training as Research Scientists

 

Cost: $250

Age: 11-18 years old, independent work

Location: Any beach in the Salish Sea

Independent field work, land-based

Project Leader: Elizabeth Drozda

Assistant: Amy Eberling

Scholarships available, program funding help from Shell Oil

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Observing and analyzing marine debris on the beaches of the Salish Sea.

 

Students "adopt a beach" for nine months and complete a marine debris survey twice a month.

 

Student surveys determine the types of marine debris and the rate of accumulation. 

Students discuss and come up with ways to reduce the types of marine debris found during their beach surveys.

This work is an independent project that can be done on a student's own schedule, aside from the required virtual training and lessons.

*If you are a student out of the area and would like to sign-up for this project/topic, we can turn this project into fresh water/marine debris study from your location.

DRAFT CALENDAR

2022

January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

January - Virtual lesson(s)

January - Independent field work

February - Virtual lesson(s) for data entry training 

February - Independent field work

March - Independent field work

March - Virtual check-in

April - Independent field work

May - Independent field work

May - Virtual check-in

June - Independent field work

July - Independent field work

July - Virtual check-in

August - Independent field work

September - Independent field work

September - Virtual check-in

October - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

November - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

December - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

*schedule subject to change

 

2023

January 7, 1 PM - Virtual Project Presentations

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Forage fish Student Training as Research Scientists

 

Cost: $250

Age: 11-18 years old, group work

Location: Fidalgo Island

Group field work, land-based

Project Leader: Trevor Derie

Assistant(s): Amy Eberling and FBAR Volunteers

Scholarships available, program funding help from Skagit MRC

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Observation of forage fish egg patterns at a local beach on Fidalgo Island.

 

Students complete a monthly 2 hour forage fish egg survey as a group for nine months. 

Students analyze and determine the times of years and conditions that produce the greatest amount of eggs on the beach.

Students determine how successful the eggs in their progression to hatching.

Students work in all weather conditions (unless a safety threat) so proper rain boots and gear is suggested.

DRAFT CALENDAR

2022

January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

January - Virtual lesson(s)

January - Group field work

February - Group field work

February - Virtual lesson(s)

March - Group field work

April - Group field work

May - Group field work

May - Virtual lesson(s)

June - Group field work

July - Group field work

August - Group field work

August - Virtual lesson(s)

September - Group field work

October - Group field work

October - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

November - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

December - Virtual lesson(s), project prep

*schedule subject to change

 

2023

January 7, 1 PM - Virtual Project Presentations

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Cost: $750

Age: 11-18 years old, independent work

Location: Virtual and Burrows Bay/WA Park

Group field work, land-based, 1 boat-based field trip

Project Leader: Dr. Cindy Elliser, Pacific Mammal Research

Assistant: Kat MacIver, Pacific Mammal Research

Support: Amy Eberling

 

Scholarships may be available from grants or private sponsors

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Work with Dr. Cindy Elliser from Pacific Mammal Research (PACMAM) and conduct your own land-based project on harbor porpoises.

Through a combination of virtual lectures and in-person field work at the Burrows Bay field site, students will learn about the thought processes and considerations for scientific projects;  from the initial question through field work to analysis and presentation.

PACMAM scientists guide the scientific research process of collecting, analyzing and presenting your data.

DRAFT CALENDAR

2022

January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

February 4 - Virtual lesson(s)

March 4- Virtual lesson(s) 

March - Guided Field work at WA Park

April - Guided Field work at WA Park

May - Independent Field work at WA Park

June - Independent Field work at WA Park

June - Boat field work with Dr. Elliser

July - Independent Field work at WA Park

August - Independent Field work at WA Park

September - Independent Field work at WA Park

October - Virtual lesson(s)

November - Virtual lesson, Project Prep

December - Virtual lesson, Project Prep

*schedule subject to change

2023

January 7, 1 PM - Virtual Project Presentations

*Boat trips are weather/water condition dependent, rain dates will need to be scheduled.

Cost: $1500

Age: 14-18 years old, group work

Location: Virtual and anywhere in the Salish Sea

Group field work, land-based and boat-based

Virtual Project Leader: Dr. Peter Hodum, University of Puget Sound

Boat-based Leader: Amy Eberling

*need a minimum of 2 students enrolled 

Scholarships may be available from grants or private sponsors, click here to inquire

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Work with Dr. Hodum from University of Puget Sound and Oikonos in developing and implementing a boat-based marine bird survey. 

 

Through a combination of virtual lectures and in-person field work launching from Cap Sante Marina, students learn about the thought processes and considerations that go into a taking a scientific project from the initial question through field work to analysis and presentation.

Dr. Hodum guides the scientific research process of collecting, analyzing and presenting student data.

Requirements: must be available afterschool for the boat-based surveys.

 

Schedule is weather/water condition dependent.

*If you are a student out of the area and would like to sign-up for this project/topic, we can turn this project into an independent land-based study from your location.

DRAFT CALENDAR

2022

January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

February - Virtual lesson(s), introductions

March 29 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

April 26 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

May 24 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM* 

June 14- Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

July 8 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM* 

August - Virtual lesson(s), data review

September 13 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

October - Virtual lesson(s), data review

November - Virtual lesson(s), Project Prep

December - Virtual lesson(s), Project Prep

*schedule subject to change

2023

January 7, 1 PM - Virtual Project Presentations

*Boat trips are weather/water condition dependent, rain dates will need to be scheduled.

BIGG'S ORCA

Cost: $1500

Age: 14-18 years old, group work

Location: Virtual, launch out of Cap Sante Marina, 1 San Juan Island Visit (as a group using Ferry)

Group field work, boat-based

Virtual Project Leader: Monika Wieland Shields, Orca Behavior Institute

Boat-based Leader: Amy Eberling

*need a minimum of 3 students enrolled 

Scholarships may be available from grants or private sponsors, click here to inquire

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PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Work with Monika Wieland Shields, director of the Orca Behavior Institute, to investigate seasonal movement patterns of Bigg’s killer whales in the Salish Sea.

 

Through a combination of virtual lectures and in-person field trips on the water and on shore, students learn the thought processes and considerations that go into a taking a scientific project from the initial question through field work to analysis and presentation.

 

Each student works with real-world data on a specific family group of Bigg’s killer whales as they learn about topics including photo ID, mapping, graphing, and how to take scientific data in the field.

Field work schedule is weather/water condition dependent.

DRAFT CALENDAR

2022

January 8, 1PM - Zoom kick-off with all STaRS groups

February 10 - Virtual lesson(s)

March 10- Virtual lesson(s)

March 22 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

April 14 - Virtual lesson(s)

April 29 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM* (rain date)

May 17 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

June 7 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

July 9 - San Juan Island field visit 

August 11 - Virtual lesson(s)

September 6 - Group (boat-based) field work, 4-7PM*

October 13 -Virtual lesson(s)

November 8 - Virtual lesson, Project Prep

December 8 -Virtual lesson, Project Prep

*schedule subject to change

 

2023

January 7, 1 PM - Virtual Project Presentations

 

*Boat trips are weather/water condition dependent, rain dates will need to be scheduled.