Ocean Institute

Brookdale’s Ocean Institute offers extraordinary educational opportunities for New Jersey’s K-12 school students and summer campers at this truly exceptional national park. Your students will encounter a place where science meets history, and nature coexists with civilization. Their sense of discovery and wonderment about this geological and environmental treasure in their own back yard will inspire learning and perhaps even career choices.

The shy egret, the majestic osprey, limulus, the enduring horseshoe crab, and the exotic pipe fish are just some of the many creatures waiting to share with your students the historical and ecological record of Sandy Hook. Few outings, if any, can offer so much, so close by at such convenience.

Trips can be arranged even in the winter months, but from May through October an Ocean Institute Adventure Package includes Coastal Creatures, Shell Hunting, and time permitting, a brief visit to Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Battery.

Trips run up to 3.5 hours and cost $12 per student with a $250 minimum. Due to the popularity of this offering, it is important to try and schedule your trip months in advance.

Brookdale is insured for its activities. If you need additional information, such as a copy of our insurance certificate, please indicate on your reservation form what your documentation needs are.

Click here to fill out the Online Reservation Form!

The Ocean Institute Adventure Package

Coastal Creatures – An exploration of the bay from its edge – its physical conditions, marine life, and the interrelationships between land and sea. Using seining nets, students will have the opportunity to collect a variety of coastal creatures from the bay,  observe them, and safely return them to their home. A variety of fish – crustaceans, mollusks, algae, and even seahorses are possible catches that will amaze and captivate your students. (At least 90 minutes)

Shell Hunting – A shoreline walk in search of shells, bird sightings, and other signs of marine life is part of this experience. It includes a “shell discussion” about the local shell types and the environmental role of the creatures that produce these shells. As an added bonus students even get to keep some of their finds. (1 hour)

Time Permitting:

Sandy Hook Lighthouse – Lighting the Way Since 1764, it has been lit every day except one for almost 250 years. The Sandy Hook Lighthouse continues to light the imagination with its rich history and science. This oldest operating lighthouse on our continent, offers a chance for your students to use powers of deduction while exploring a national treasure. (Varies)

Fort Hancock Batteries – This is an excursion into a venerable old fort that played a critical role in our nation’s history and helped keep safe our most important port, New York Harbor. By special arrangement the dark chambers of Battery Potter can be toured for a step back in time and military design. (Varies)

Other Options: We are flexible and will modify the program to meet your needs. For example, if you have a special interest in the salt marsh environment, this could be substituted for the shell walk. Or you might choose to visit the Twin Lights and have the Weather Forecasts experience. However, some programs require more time to arrange, so it is especially important to book early when choosing other than the standard package. For advice on your selections, please email kconnelly@brookdalecc.edu or call 732-796-5464.

Other Ocean Institute Options

Weather Forecasts – The dramatic impact of Hurricane Sandy along the North Atlantic Coast is a vivid reminder that weather really does matter. With a special focus on Sandy, this experience includes a demonstration of how hurricanes form and move up the coastline. The Sandy Hook peninsula is ideal for understanding the role of barrier islands and the dangers of navigating the coastline especially in treacherous weather. Your students will also come away with an understanding of meteorological terms like high and low pressure systems.

Exploring the Salt Marsh – An expedition into the salt marsh focuses on observing the vast array of life that is often overlooked in one of the most productive zones on our planet. Included will be a discussion on the interdependence of life forms in the salt marsh, its role as a nursery to the sea, and how these marshes help protect land and water quality. (1hour)

The Holly Forest – This foray into the woods is full of surprises for visitors unaware of the sizes of and variety of life forms that inhabit Sandy Hook. While investigating the local fauna and the creatures it supports, students will observe things like the relationship between adaptation and plant succession. A cool weather option. (At least 1 hour)

Twin Lights Lighthouse – In 1828, two beacons were constructed high atop the Highlands to further help avoid shipwrecks and save lives. Here you can see the massive Fresnel lenses that revolutionized the optics at lighthouses, tour through history in the Lighthouse Museum, and get a splendid bird‘s eye view from the North Light Tower of the geography of Sandy Hook. A cool weather option. (90 minutes)

The Sands of Time – Most of our beach sand journeyed here from the Appalachian Mountains and it is still on the move. This beach excursion will consider the dynamic role of tides, waves, erosion, currents, and the interventions we attempt to shape the geology of our Jersey Shore. (At least 1 hour)

The Clam Depuration Plant – Clams are intricately related to the health of Sandy Hook Bay and about 40 million clams are harvested for eating from the bay every year. At the Clam Depuration Plant your students can experience how an environmentally dependent industry ensures healthy clams and protected waters. (1 hour)