Science by the sea: Learning about nature at the beach

Are you taking a family vacation to the beach this year? The ocean offers a variety of opportunities to learn about science in a fun way.

Think about going snorkeling or scuba diving to learn firsthand what the world is like under the ocean. Take a waterproof camera and snap some pictures of underwater scenery and marine life.

When you get back home, compare your pictures to books or Web sites to find out how many types of marine life you found.

Before you go, learn about the types of animals and marine life that are in the area as well as the history of the area. For example, if you are going to Hawaii, Hanauma Bay on Oahu features more than 50 species of fish.

If you aren't going to the beach, there are still many activities you can do to learn about science. Many of them are in your own backyard. Look up a star map on the Internet or in a book. Then look up at the night sky in your backyard, or try going to a spot where you can get away from city lights. Identify as many constellations as you can in the sky and write them down. Then go back and figure out how far away those stars are from Earth.

Visit National Geographic's Web site ( for fun information about marine life and astronomy: