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Catalina Island- Toyon Bay (Flanagan)

Reviewed by: Katie Flanagan, Teacher at Alice C. Stelle Middle School

Location: Address:
1 Toyon Bay Rd, Avalon, CA 90704 (310) 510-1622 ()
                 GPS Coordinates: 33.375266,-118.355141
                 Click here to see on a map
    The Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) is a non-profit outdoor educational organization dedicated to inspiring environmental awareness in people of all ages. The camp was started by a school teacher who was fed up with not being able to take students out into the environment and actually experience what they were learning.  In the beginning, he would bring animals out from the ocean in the morning and students would come out to Catalina and see the animals in buckets. It has since evolved into several camps including CIMI and Astrocamp.
The trip at our school is open to all honors society 7th grade students.  Around 115 students go from our school along with around 10 teachers as chaperons.  Students take a bus, then a boat over to Toyon Bay on Catalina Island and stay 2 nights and 3 days.  Throughout the trip, students are assigned a leader who teachers them a ton about marine biology and they get to snorkel, pet sharks, and dissect squid. Students pay their own way and the trip costs $315.
    It is hard to describe the site, I hope the pictures show a little about the camp.  For a brief overview, the camp is comprised of dorms, a dining room, a large field for free time, a dive deck and several classrooms with various pieces of equipment, aquariums, screens, microscopes, and animals depending on the content in them.  I am always amazed at the amount of hands on learning that goes on here and also the amount of technology that is used for being such a remote site. 

The following is a link to the camp's website.

  • A Biology Teacher should take this field trip because there are so many hands-on opportunities to learn about the field of marine biology. 
  • 7th Grade and 9th Grade students should come to this camp because the main topic of study is Biology and that goes right along with what the students are learning in class.
  • If you are unable to take the students on a field trip to CIMI, summer camps are also available and could be recommended to students who show an interest in marine biology.
Science Concepts Addressed:
  • Algae Lab:  Students learn what types of foods have algae in them, why algae is so important in relation to photosynthesis, and how to classify organisms.
  • Marine Mammal Lab:  Students learn about characteristics of marine mammals and how humans effects marine mammals when they are uneducated about throwing trash in the oceans

  • Fish Lab:  Students learn about habitats for fish, defense mechanisms, and classifying fish 

  • Shark Lab:  Students learn about the senses sharks have, the types of sharks, and where sharks are usually found. 

  • Ocean Lab:  Students learn about oceanography and come up with various studies that can be done relating to the ocean including salinity, visibility, temperature, and why different animals live in different areas of the ocean.

  • Plankton Lab:  Students use microscopes to sea live plankton and discover the types of plankton, where it is on the food chain, and what some plankton grow in to as they get older. 

  • Invertebrate Lab: Students learn about the three types of skeletal systems (exoskeleton, endoskeleton, and hydro static) that invertebrates have and they get to classify animals that they get to touch into the different categories.

  • Snorkel:  Students get two opportunities to see all that they are learning about in the labs in the animals natural habitats. 

  • Hikes:  Students get to get some exercise and get out in nature.  On this hike they actually got to see a decaying bison that was alive in camp just last year. 
  • Squid Dissection:  In one of the night programs they get to dissect a squid and learn all about the parts, functions, and defense mechanisms.

Study Guide
:  On this trip, students are put into groups with a counselor leading each group of about 15 students. The counselors all have at least bachelor's degrees in some science discipline. Because the counselor is leading the group, they are responsible for leading the students through tasks, questions, and guiding them through each of the stations, therefore there is no need to a study guide for the students to use.  However, a booklet is given to the students for them to take extra notes throughout the three day trip.
  • Tasks:  Students are given tasks at each of the stations on this field trip.  For example, in the squid dissection, they are lead through which cuts to make and what each of the parts are called and used for.
  • Observations: Students are not able to go to this field trip on their own, therefore all observational questions will also be lead by the counselor. 
For additional information

Katie Flanagan,
Dec 9, 2011, 4:39 PM