With our on-site educational programs canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Crystal Cove Conservancy and Crystal Cove State Park have launched new distance learning programs in Spring 2020!

These virtual education programs immerse science learners of all ages in exploring Crystal Cove’s diverse ecosystems, partnering with scientists to help with ecological research, and solving design challenges, all from the safety of your home.

 Virtual Restoration Ecology Programs

During our virtual programs, you and your family are invited to assist with ecological research in Moro Canyon!  As you help UC Irvine, Crystal Cove State Park, and Crystal Cove Conservancy study the best way to restore Moro Canyon, you’ll learn about concepts like plant ecology, decomposition, and how we can use science ideas to protect our wild places.

Our virtual restoration ecology programs include:

  • Virtual Project Crystal (5th Grade): During this online program, participants partner with Dr. Kimball from UC Irvine to investigate the best type of mulch to use in order to help native seedlings grow.
  • Virtual Project Crystal Code (Middle School): How can we use technology to protect our wild spaces?  Virtual Project Crystal Code builds on ideas from Project Crystal as participants use coding and build sensors to investigate how mulch decomposes.

If you are a teacher and would like to incorporate Virtual Project Crystal materials into your own classroom, please fill out our survey here to let us know. Teacher resources are also available for Virtual Project Crystal and for Virtual Project Crystal Code!

Environmental Challenges for High School & Middle School Students

We need your help!  Crystal Cove Conservancy partners with Crystal Cove State Park and local researchers to understand the best way to protect the park’s ecosystems, but we can’t do it alone.  Every two weeks, we’ll publish a new environmental challenge that you can help solve online.  These challenges might include analyzing a large data set and sharing your findings back with us or developing and testing solutions to an engineering challenge.

The different environmental challenges align with different Next Generation Science Standards for middle school and high school.  New challenges will be posted biweekly.

  • Comparing Owl Limpet Populations: For the past two years, The Conservancy has partnered with OCMPAC and OCC students to monitor owl limpets at two sites in Crystal Cove State Park.  Can you help analyze the data and create a visualization showing whether owl limpets at a highly-trafficked site are different from those in a more remote area? [High school level; NGSS SEP: Graphing and analyzing data, Constructing explanations.]
  • California Gnatcatcher Mapping: Crystal Cove Conservancy staff and students have supplemented efforts by California State Park natural resource staff to monitor California Gnatcatcher populations in the park.  Can you map gnatcatcher geospatial data from the past three years to look for observational trends?  [Middle school to early high school level; NGSS SEP: Analyzing and interpreting data, Constructing explanations.]
  • Analyzing Fish Data: Since 2012, Crystal Cove Conservancy has been partnering with Newport Whales and thousands of junior high and high school students to collect data on the presence or absence of six key fish species during our MPA Science Cruises.  Can you analyze this fish data and determine if there are any trends or patterns? [High school or middle school level; NGSS SEP: Graphing and analyzing data, Constructing explanations.] 
  • Monitoring Butterfly Populations: Crystal Cove Conservancy staff and volunteers have been conducting monthly butterfly surveys at a habitat restoration site in Moro Canyon. Can you analyze the data to determine if the butterfly population is improving over time?  [High school or middle school level; NGSS SEP: Developing and using models, Graphing and analyzing data, Constructing explanations.]
  • North Beach Boardwalk: Crystal Cove Conservancy is in the process of restoring the remaining 17 unrestored cottages at the Historic District’s North Beach. Now we need your help to design and test a boardwalk that will provide access to the cottages and protect them from changing ocean and beach conditions for years to come. [High school level; NGSS SEP: Defining problems, Planning and carrying out investigations, Designing solutions]

Family Community Science

Spend this summer becoming a Jr. Ranger and a Community Scientist with your family! Every two weeks, Crystal Cove State Park will be publishing videos, crafts, Jr. Ranger videos, scavenger hunts, virtual hikes and more. With each Jr. Ranger program, we’ll be sharing a community science project that you and your family can help with from home or a park near you! 

Every two weeks we’ll be posting a new topic for Jr. Ranger activities and Family Community Science projects, so check back here for more all summer long! 

Animal Evidence 

Tidepools – Coming July 13th!

  • Family Community Science: Monitoring Tidepool Organisms with iNaturalist
  • Tidepools Virtual Jr. Ranger Program with Crystal Cove State Park
  • Tidepools Field Guide & Identifying Tidepool Species Slideshow

Adaptations – Coming July 27th!

Birds – Coming August 10th! 

Coloring Pages

Explore Crystal Cove State Park’s natural and cultural history from the safety of your home as you express your artistic side and add a splash of color to these scenes.  More coming soon!


State Parks employee filming a videoPORTS Videoconferencing Programs

California State Parks’ PORTS program is offering free Home Learning Programs for students stuck at home and excited to learn!

In the coming weeks, PORTS will be featuring live K-12 programs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  Participants must sign up in advance, and participation is limited.

Visit http://ports-ca.us to see the weekly schedule and sign up!




California State Parks Resources

We might not be able to visit parks as easily right now, but Orange Coast District’s interpretive team
is committed to bringing the parks to Southern Californians!

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