Coastal Ocean Science Academy


The Coastal Ocean Science Academy (COSA) is a marine science summer day program that aims to introduce and connect young people to local marine and coastal habitats and the factors that shape them. The program is based at MSC’s campus on the rocky shore of Nahant, but includes off-site field trips to field locations both on and off the water. A 2020 program flyer can be downloaded here.

Program Descriptions and Application Materials

All programs run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day, and they begin/end each day at the Marine Science Center in Nahant.  Click on the link below to access the registration pack for the program(s) you are interested in.

  • Check back in Spring 2021 for COSA 2021 details and applications!

COSA Littorina – Middle School Program

2014-07-22 10.31.33The Littorina program exposes students entering seventh and eighth grades to local coastal and marine habitats, including the sandy beach, rocky shore, open water/harbor, and coastal wetlands. This is a one-week, field-trip based program where students will learn how to keep a field notebook and take basic measurements of weather, water quality, and biodiversity in different coastal habitats, all the while exploring the relationship between these parameters. Participation will well-equip students to enter the research/project-based Coastal Ocean Science Academy for high schoolers in the future. The Middle School Program runs from Monday, July 27 through Friday, July 31, 2020. Maximum group size is 20.

COSA Chondrus – First-time High School students

cosa56Students enrolled in this introductory marine biology program will learn about coastal and marine habitats and develop basic research skills. Topics covered include identifying and classifying marine organisms, monitoring water quality, measuring species richness and diversity, and analyzing survey results. Students will also explore threats to coastal and marine resources. Field studies take place at a salt marsh, sandy beach, rocky shore, and on open water. The High School Program runs Monday through Friday from August 10-21, 2020. Maximum group size is 20.

COSA Pagurus – Returning High School students

Building on knowledge learned in Chondrus, Pagurus students will deepen their knowledge of local coastal ecology and habitats through student-led field investigation. Staff will facilitate student inquiry and research in topics of their own choosing. Ample access to field sites for data collection will be provided, as well as guidance in developing sound research questions, methodologies, analyzing data, and presenting results. Pagurus students will play a role in explaining fieldwork protocols to Chondrus students, but they will also have some separate opportunities presented at a level that assumes their prior knowledge and advanced interest in marine science. The High School Program runs Monday through Friday from August 10-21, 2020.

Screenshot 2015-09-11 11.31.29In 2015, with support from the MSC’s Helmuth Lab, students in COSA Pagurus partnered with girls from the Beach Sisters program to produce an interactive virtual tour of the Forest River Conservation Area in Salem.  Students conducted field data and collected other assets to annotate the “canvas” of several high resolution images.  The final product can be viewed here, and you can read a news article about it here.

Daily Shuttle to/from the Marine Science Center (optional)

For those without transportation to Nahant, a daily shuttle van to the MSC is available from 3 MBTA stations – Ruggles, Wonderland, or Lynn/Central Square – for an additional fee (see Fees below). The shuttle will depart from Boston at 7:30 a.m. and return to Boston at 4:30 p.m., making stops at Lynn and Wonderland on the way to and from Nahant. Space on the shuttle is limited, so participants needing this option are encouraged to apply early.


Thanks to the support of generous donors, we are pleased offer a limited number of full and partial scholarships to students interested in participating in the program. Our program goals are aligned with national efforts to create and foster diversity in the pursuit of academic and career opportunities related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math).

Preference will be given to students who are eligible for free/reduced lunch or whose family meets the income eligibility levels based on federal guidelines. A limited number of full scholarships will be offered to students eligible for free or reduced lunch. If funds permit, partial scholarships may be awarded to other students expressing need. Those interested in applying for a scholarship should indicate on the registration form below. No additional scholarship application/documentation is required.

Note: Thanks to our generous donors, scholarship funds have been earmarked for residents of Nahant and Lynn. Therefore, applicants residing in these communities are encouraged to apply for a scholarship.

Scholarship materials must be received by May 22, 2020. Notification of scholarship awards will begin in early June, and will continue until all scholarship funds are disbursed. Please contact Emily Duwan at [email protected] or 781.581.7370×373 with any questions.

Fees, Payments, and Deadlines

Instructions on how to remit a deposit and payments – as well as our refund policy – can be found in the application packs (see links above). Fees include all equipment, student materials, t-shirt, transportation to off-site field locations, entry for all fee-based field experiences, daily lunch, and snacks.

Applications are due by June 19, 2020.  Participants will be accepted on a rolling basis until all slots are filled. Scholarship applications are due by May 22, 2020, and notification of scholarship awards will occur in early June.

  • Middle School Program: 2020 fees are $600 for the 5-day program plus $50 for optional shuttle service.
  • High School Program: 2020 fees are $1200 for the 10-day program plus $100 for optional shuttle service.


Sponsorship Opportunities

Many students across our region wish to participate in COSA but are unable due to their financial circumstances. Thanks to the generous support of individual donors, we are able to offer some scholarships. Please consider making a gift to the COSA Scholarship Fund today by visiting our Support the MSC page or contacting Emily Duwan at the contact info listed below.


If you have any questions, please contact Emily Duwan at [email protected] or call 781.581.7370, x373.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]