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During this trying time, UC San Diego Extension remains committed to helping you achieve your goals. In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have moved this summer’s Sally Ride Science Junior Academy workshops online. These online STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) workshops for students entering 4th-12th grade will be conducted through virtual class meetings using the Zoom conferencing system and the learning platform Canvas.

Explore the Invisible Life of the Oceans


A single drop of seawater can hold millions of marine plankton, and understanding the diversity of these tiny organisms can help us protect ocean ecosystems. Get a hands-on introduction to marine microbes and to the lab techniques scientists use to study them.

We will start by exploring the diversity of marine plankton and their roles in open-ocean and coastal ecosystems. We will then practice identifying, classifying and drawing accurate representations of live phytoplankton and zooplankton using water samples collected from Scripps Pier. Finally, students will work in groups to design a model of a neutrally buoyant marine microbe and then test their designs. Students will emerge from the class with a deeper understanding and appreciation of these tiny but incredible organisms.

What You Will Learn

  • Learn about the diversity of marine phytoplankton and zooplankton
  • Become familiar with the roles of plankton in ocean ecosystems
  • Examine and identify live plankton from samples collected at Scripps Pier
  • Design a planktonic organism that is neutrally buoyant and test the design
  • Gain an appreciation of all life in ocean ecosystems


During the first week of Junior Academy, this class is shortened to four days because of the Fourth of July holiday.

Return to the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy website here.

Course Number: SIO-90027
Credit: 0.00 unit(s)