SOURCE Program for Schools

Program on hold for 2022

About the Program

This is a land-based program designed to increase student knowledge and foster awareness of watershed and stormwater issues in the Puget Sound watershed. Salish staff visit school campuses and conduct lectures and activities inside the classroom and on school grounds that help students learn how what they do at home can ultimately affect the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem.

Program Topics

  • Introduction to the Scientific Method
  • Water Quality Analysis
  • Stormwater Issues & Management
  • Marine Ecosystems

Salish staff consult with teachers to design 10 hours of curricula, scientific investigation and activities that are aligned with teaching objectives and Next Generation Science Standards. Using the inquiry-based learning model, students develop and carry out their own research projects, investigating their local watershed for stormwater quality problems and formally reporting their findings to class.

There are three components to all Source programs.

  1. Background – A series of lectures and activities conducted by Salish educators to help develop student understanding of watershed ecology and dynamics, storm water processes, and the scientific method.
  2. Experimentation – Students follow the steps of the scientific method to ensure the complete scientific research process from Question and Hypothesis all the way to Conclusion and Communication is carried out.
  3. Presentation — Working in their small groups, students develop a PowerPoint presentation in which they account their full scientific process.

Classes are encouraged to attend the Salish Sea Science Symposium as a culmination of their experience or to integrate a service learning project within their community with our Restoration program.


Salish fills a unique yet critical role in education today: to immerse students in an intensive, hands-on learning experience that helps prepare them for the challenges they will face in our increasingly complex society.

“Students become more conscious of what is going into the Puget Sound, other organisms etc.  Especially with the link to the SOURCE program.  My students were questioning how dumping dish water (surfactants) would impact the Puget Sound.” – Teacher, Dimmitt Middle School
“My son couldn’t stop talking about his sampling project today when he got in the car. He was so animated. I think it has boosted his confidence and gotten him excited about school again.” -Parent, Eton School

Research Equipment

Water Quality Monitoring

The watersheds around the Salish Sea carry nutrients, stormwater runoff, sediments and pollutants via rivers, creeks and streams to the marine environment.  We can measure many water quality indicators to paint a better picture of local water quality surrounding schools, parks, etc.. wherever our SOURCE program is conducted:

  • Phosphate, nitrate, copper, surfactant, ammonia, turbidity and chlorine test kits (LaMotte): measure the amount of important water quality parameters in the water. While most of these parameters are necessary to aquatic life at small levels, problems can arise when these parameters reach high levels.
  • Colorimeter: used in conjunction with water quality test kits to obtain measurements from specific water samples.  Results recorded in PPM (parts per million).
  • Fecal Coliform test medium: used to estimate bacteria counts present in a water body.
  • Dissolved oxygen/Temperature probe: continuously measures dissolved oxygen/temperature.
  • pH probes:  measure how acidic or basic the water is on a scale from 0-14.  pH is an important water quality measurement with most organisms only tolerating a small range, typically around 6-8.5.

Biological and Sediment Monitoring

Along with water quality monitoring, the creatures that can be found within the watersheds + intertidal areas of the Salish Sea can paint a picture of the local health of a water body.  The tools that we have for use with the SOURCE program are:

  • Macro-invertebrate kick nets: used to collect aquatic insects from a water body which can then be inventoried and classified to give an idea of stream health.
  • Beach seine net: coarser mesh net for intertidal investigations of nearshore fish
  • Transects + intertidal plots: lines are laid on the beach with intermittent plots where species are identified and inventoried to paint a picture of biological health.
  • Seives: can be used to sort sediments collected from a water body to classify sediment composition and/or to uncover macro-invertebrates.

Teacher’s Guide

Students will be able to:

  • design and carry out a research project on water quality in a local watershed.
  • present and evaluate storm water science projects with their peers and think critically to create a watershed stewardship action plan.
  • explain the human impact on their local watershed, making observations and describing water quality relationships.

Learning Segment 1: Background

Salish educators use lectures, discussions, and activities to help develop student understanding of watershed ecology and dynamics, storm water processes, the scientific method, and relevant place based issues.

Learning Segment 2: Experimentation

Students collect water samples from various storm water collection points around campus. Working in small groups they develop and carry out their own storm water research experiments using aquatic monitoring equipment and tools provided by Salish.

Students are encouraged to follow all of the steps of the scientific method to ensure the complete scientific research process from Question and Hypothesis all the way to Conclusion and Communication is carried out.

Salish staff work with students to help them correctly graph and analyze their data and to use that data to create informed and thoughtful conclusions.

Learning Segment 3: Presentation

Working in their small groups, students develop a PowerPoint presentation in which they account their full scientific process, including data analysis, evaluation, conclusion, and solutions, which they present to their peers on the last days of the SOURCE program. Salish staff are there to help students each step of the way and to provide feedback on presentation context and performance

Additionally, Salish Sea Expeditions sponsors a student science Symposium at the end of the year for students from around the Puget Sound to present their research project findings to a broader audience, including scientists and field researchers.

Please download the complete Source Program Teacher’s Guide (PDF), which includes learning outcomes and examples of previous student presentations.


What is Salish Sea Expeditions?

Salish Sea Expeditions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to provide an opportunity for students to design and conduct real scientific research from the field and the decks of a sailing vessel on Puget Sound.

What type of programs do you run?

We run both land- and boat-based programs that are rooted in student-led, scientific research. Our land-based program, SOURCE, focuses on watershed and stormwater research while our boat-based programs (SOUND) conduct oceanographic research aboard S/V Carlyn, a 61’ yawl leased from Four Winds*Westward Ho Camps. The S/V Carlyn is a US Coast Guard (USCG) inspected vessel.

Where does the land-based SOURCE program take place?

The SOURCE program can take place on school grounds, at local waterways or any stream, pond, river or storm drain. Source is designed to be customizable for each group, allowing for integration into curriculum and removing obstacles to getting students out into the field.

How long is the program?

SOURCE is a 10-hour program. We work with each teacher to determine the duration of the research. We have conducted the program in intervals as short as one or two weeks and as long as a month.

What standards does the program align with?

We are aligned with Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards and Ocean Literacy Principals.

What is the maximum/minimum number of participants?

We can work with an individual class or an entire grade level.

How many Salish staff will be in the classroom and in the field, and what qualifications do they have?

Typically we have two science staff attending classroom visits. When students are in the field collecting samples, we can provide 2-5 staff depending on the nature of the research design. Salish Educator-Scientists have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in science and experience both in the teaching and research fields. All our staff have experience working with teenagers in residential settings and maintain current First Aid certification. Most also have sea time experience. Specific qualifications vary from season to season.

What does a program involve?

The SOURCE program aims to increase student knowledge and foster awareness of watershed and storm water issues in the Puget Sound through the use of engaging lectures, activities, and student-designed research experiments. Students come away with a greater understanding of the scientific process and how they, as residents of the Puget Sound watershed, can ultimately affect the health of their watershed and the Puget Sound ecosystem.

In the classroom, students are taught scientific principles and provided with background information. They then identify a suitable research topic and work with our staff to collect data and organize their research. On the final day the students put together a communication piece on their groups’ research and present their findings to their classmates. Classmates are given a rubric to score each presentation allowing for benchmarks and accountability during the program. As a culminating event, students, or a delegate of the students, are invited to present their research at the annual Salish Sea Students Science Symposium.

Program Highlights

  • Customized curriculum development for watershed research and integration with current teaching objectives
  • Access to sampling equipment, water quality monitoring equipment, and field resources.
  • Staff consultation and additional classroom visits.
  • End-of-year Student Science Symposium where student delegates can present their research to both SOUND and SOURCE peers,
    local scientists, and the community.
  • Online access to all materials, curricula, activities, and background information used during Source programs.

What is the optional Restoration component?

As an extension, students and teachers may choose a restoration project that is feasible and meaningful to the community.  Our savvy watershed and restoration scientists work with the teacher, local agencies and organizations to bring a meaningful connection to the research the students are doing within their watershed/ community. These projects can range from planting native plants, invasive species removal, seeding oyster bags, and riparian buffers.

What are your payment policies?

Contact us at for pricing information. Total fee (up to 30 students). includes 10 hours of instruction, all science research materials, and pre-planning meetings with teachers. An additional fee may apply depending on the project design and implementation hours. Our typical payment policy is a nonrefundable deposit due with a signed contract, the second 1/3rd of the total cost due at 60 days prior, with any balance due 30 days prior to the program. Contract scheduling is flexible, so let us know if we can arrange an alternative.

If you have questions at any time, please contact our Education Director at


Welcome, teachers and group leaders! We’re glad that you’re interested in a Salish Sea Experience and we’re here to guide you through the process. Here you will find information and paperwork required to prepare for the Source program.

Step 1: Request a date for the spring or fall season.

Step 2: Review the Teacher Guide

Download the Source Program Teacher’s Guide (PDF) – a detailed explanation of the Source program along with classroom handouts, standards, and teacher resources.

Step 3: Fill out and return the following forms before the first classroom visit.

Step 4: Prepare for the Salish staff’s visit to your classroom with these program handouts.

Step 5: Upon completion of the program, fill out and return the following forms.

If you have questions at any time, please contact our Education Director at

Program Details

Dates Programs offered year-round

Cost: contact us at for
pricing information.
Class Size: Up to 30 students
Additional Classes: Contact us
Grade Levels: 5th – 12th grade

Contact for complete pricing and scheduling options. Scholarship opportunities are often available.