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Estimated Completion Time

Approximately 32-36 weeks


This offering may be completed as a Course or through the Projects pathway. Select the Projects button above for more information.

Course Description: As our amazing planet continues to change over time, it becomes increasingly apparent how human activity has made environmental impacts. In the marine science course, students will delve deep into Earth’s bodies of water and study geologic structures and how they impact the oceans. Students will investigate the characteristics of various populations, patterns of distribution of life in our aquatic systems, and ongoing changes occurring every day in our precious ecosystems. Students will be amazed and enlightened at just how much our oceans and lakes affect climate, weather, and seasonal variations.  They will have the opportunity to explore the relationships among living organisms and see how they are affected by our oceans’ currents, tides, and waves. Hold on, it is one amazing journey. Note: content varies depending on the course version. For currently enrolled students, please refer to the syllabus located in the course information area for curriculum specifics.

This course is one of our Career Exploration offerings. During this course, you will learn career-related skills and earn a badge for this accomplishment. A badge is a digital certification of your career-related learning that you can share on social media or with higher education platforms, colleges, potential employers, peers, and colleagues. Select this link to learn more about badges.


Course Requirements

Besides engaging students in challenging curriculum, VLACS guides students to reflect on their learning and to evaluate their progress through a variety of assessments. Assessments can be in the form of self-checks, multiple choice questions, writing assignments, projects, essays, labs, oral assessments, and discussions. Instructors evaluate progress and provide interventions through the variety of assessments built into a course, as well as through contact with the student in other venues.

Major Topics and Concepts

Please review the COMPETENCIES listed on the right side of the page as these statements describe the major topics and concepts covered in this offering.

Segment 1

  • Scientific Method
  • Writing a Hypothesis
  • Designing an Experiment
  • Properties of Water
  • Science of Navigation
  • Ocean Exploration
  • Rocky Shore Ecosystem
  • Introduction to Crustaceans
  • Ocean Zones
  • Sea Turtles (rehabilitation and migration)
  • Shrimp Industry
  • Sandy Beach Ecosystem
  • Beach Erosion Control
  • Marine Pollution
  • Introduction to Marine Phytoplankton
  • Organism Adaptations
  • Energy and Food Webs
  • Human Impact on the Marine Environment

Segment 2

  • Characteristics of Ocean Surface Currents
  • El Niño Southern Oscillation Phenomenon
  • Hurricane
  • Penguins and a study of their insulating properties
  • Antarctic (Research and Ecology)
  • Coral Reefs
  • History of the Aqualung
  • Exploring the Classes of Mollusks
  • Importance and characteristics of Estuaries
  • Mangrove Ecosystem
  • Nutrients in the Marine Environment
  • Exploring the Ocean’s Abyss
  • Causes of Waves and Tides
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Exploring the Classes of Fish
  • Marine Mammal Characteristics and Adaptations
  • Exploration of Kelp and its Importance
  • Keystone Species
  • The Destructive Practices in the Fishing Industry
  • Human Impact on the Marine Environment




Each competency will be addressed through a project that is based on a real-life career task. Here are the careers you will explore: Marine Civil Engineer, Climatologist, Park Naturalist, Ecotourism guide, Charterboat Captain, and NOAA Officer.



Estimated Completion Time

Approximately 4 weeks per project


Please review the competency statements on the right to learn the major topics and concepts covered in this offering.


Overview: Projects allow students to demonstrate their understanding of concepts and skills by completing a job-related task. The assignment might be to create a mural, a package design, a speech, a film review, or a movie set – you name it! These creative projects are about applying your learning acquired through in-depth research to real-world career tasks.



Experiences allow you to explore a career field you’re curious about while mastering competencies for school credit. Through experiential learning, you will learn skills and apply these skills to tasks you would complete as part of a career, rather than completing traditional assessments like essays or tests. During your experience, you’ll work with a professional in the field to support your learning. You’ll earn a badge for your accomplishments, which you can share on social media and higher education platforms, or with colleges, potential employers, peers, and/or colleagues to display your qualifications.

Here’s how experiences work:

  1. Each competency you work on is addressed through a separate deliverable predetermined by you and your instructor.
  2. Guided learning for each module consists of research and/or work with a professional in the field. Your instructor will coach you through this process.
  3. Each module culminates in a final demonstration of understanding, which includes a deliverable and a discussion-based assessment with your instructor.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re curious about a career in healthcare. You decide you’d like to learn about this career area, make a professional connection, earn a badge and earn competencies for your 9th grade English requirement. While enrolled in English 1 Experiences, you conduct research to better understand language and structure in writing. Then, you work with an Occupational Therapist who helps you apply this understanding to the creation of an informational video. The video aims to advise the family members of patients regarding adaptive equipment and accommodations to help them support their family members as they go about their daily tasks. You’ve earned the Language and Structure in Writing competency! (This is just one example of the many ways experiences can bridge competencies to careers.)

*A parent/guardian permission form and background check of the outside expert are required for students to work with outside experts without parental supervision.


*Please have an idea for an outside expert in mind prior to enrollment or consult with our counseling department by emailing [email protected] prior to enrollment for support identifying one.

Credits 1

Competency Group Overview

Meets elective credit


  • Ocean Properties
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ocean properties by describing the study of aquatic ecosystems, describing the abiotic and biotic factors of aquatic ecosystems, and explaining the properties of seawater.
  • Ocean and Atmosphere Interactions
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ocean and atmosphere interactions by describing the theory of plate tectonics and ocean formation, explaining the impacts of weather, explaining the impacts of climate, and explaining the relationship between ocean and atmosphere.
  • Ocean Movement
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ocean movement by explaining types of seasonal and successional change, describing elements of ocean energy, and describing coastline dynamics.
  • Ocean Life
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ocean life by explaining marine biodiversity and natural selection, describing characteristics of marine populations, and analyzing interactions within marine habitats.
  • Ocean Interactions
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of ocean interactions by describing connections between marine ecosystems and energy exchange, explaining relationships among marine organisms, and describing the human impact on the marine environment.
  • Conservation
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of conservation by explaining marine conservation issues, analyzing types of marine resources, and describing the protection of the ocean.




Course: To complete the honors version of this offering, you must discuss this with your instructor during your welcome call.

Project/Experience: Honors given by earning "Exceeds" on all rubric assessments.

Attend a virtual open house

We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.