Im ozean:labor setzen sich Schülerinnen und Schüler der 3. bis 13. Klasse mit aktuellen Themen aus der Meeresforschung auseinander.

Students during an expedition of the ocean:lab at the beach

Current topics from marine research

In the ocean:lab students from 3rd to 13th grade deal with current marine research topics. According to the knowledge, learning groups gain insights into marine sciences and working methods of researchers.

A visit of the ocean:lab thematically completes school lessons in the area of natural sciences and geography.



Our offers address whole school classes. Depending on the size of the class, students will be divided into smaller groups.

The Baltic Sea of the future (classes 10 to 13)
In dem neuen Programm im ozean:labor beschäftigen sich die Jugendliche mit den Veränderungen im Ökosystem Ostsee

Changes of the baltic sea through anthropogenic impact

The impact of humankind will lead to massive changes of the ecosystem baltic sea. At the German baltic sea coast, we expect warming of 2 °C to 4 °C in the next 100 years, for instance. The increased CO2-concentrations, caused by anthropogenic climate change, will also lead to acidification of the baltic sea. Further, researches suggest increasingly precipitation which decreases the salinity of the inland sea. Eutrophication has already caused algal blooms and lack of oxygen for decades.

Which effects do these changes have on the ecosystem baltic sea?

This question is examined in the program . In the ocean:lab, students gain insight into current research of future changes of the baltic sea. Through different experiments, they investigate effects of the factors warming, acidification, eutrophication and salinity on several benthic organisms. In addition, we use a newly developed computer simulation to explain interactions of organisms. Far-reaching changes of ecosystems over time can also be shown.

Expeditions at the baltic sea coast (classes 10 to 13)
Schülerinnen und Schüler beim Expeditionslernen an der Ostseeküste

Coast protection, ecological changes and land use of the baltic sea coast

The baltic sea coast offers a diversity of aquatic, terrestrial and marine habitats. Interferences such as intensive land use and pollution, but also climate change affect these different biotopes and ecosystems. In this multi-day program students from classes 10 to 13 take a closer look at areas of the baltic sea. This expedition-learning approach raises the students' awareness of their environment, promotes their understanding of systems and gives a realistic insight into scientific work.

Topics of the expeditions

As part of the program Expeditions at the baltic sea coast students will deal with the following topics:

  • Ecological changes at the baltic sea coast and anthropogenic impact
    Here, organisms of the baltic sea and the anthropogenic influence through plastic- and noise-pollution and invasive species will be the center of attention. Students investigate organisms of the baltic sea and its coast and take plankton and benthos samples. Furthermore, they perform marine chemical and physical examination and analyze the pollution of the baltic sea. Additionally, students interview local stakeholders such as kiosk owner, the harbor master's office, water rescue service or fishermen. Therefore, they ask which fish species were just caught and how the fishing quota generally are, for instance.
  • Coast protection – natural hazards and adaption strategies of the coast
    Within this topic students deal with causes of coastal dynamics. Also, effects of changing coasts on plants, animals and humans are discussed. Further, students learn about coastal protection measures and their functions. All these problems are viewed in the context of the rising of sea levels. Therefore, students ask local stakeholders and policymakers.
  • Land use of the baltic sea coast
    When choosing this topic, students conduct soil and water analyses. Also, vegetation records and the investigation of flower-visitors from differently used areas are part of the expedition. The expedition regions are located along rivers that flow into the baltic sea. This allows the investigation of effects of intensive fertilization on soils and water bodies.

Within all topics, most of the work takes place in the investigation area. In this way, the project gains a realistic expedition character. A section at the west coast of Kiel Fjord offers optimal conditions for the first two topics. There are areas with different usages such as spa beach, natural beach or harbor basin. Moreover, there is a diverse coastal morphology with steep coasts, sandy beaches, dunes or forests as well as numerous coastal protection measures. So far, expeditions for the topic land use were conducted at two small rivers that flow into the baltic sea.

Supervision of the expeditions

During the whole project, staff of Kiel Science Factory assist students with advices. Teacher trainees are also integrated in the supervision. All necessary material for the expeditions is provided by Kiel Science Factory. Any possible costs for overnight stays, food and travelling are to be paid by school.

Overview Expeditions


  • Ecological changes at the baltic sea coast and anthropogenic impact
  • Coast protection
  • Land use

Classes: 10 to 13, all types of school

Subject areas: biology, chemistry, physics, geography

Expenditure of time: 3 to 4 days

Didactical methods:

  • Project work with own and guided components
  • Working freely – students can develop and investigate their own questions
  • Insights into professional world
  • Development of future visions
  • Development of a movie

Kiel Science Factory
Dr. Katrin Knickmeier (ocean:labor)
Phone: +49 431-880 5916

The ocean as an ecosystem and anthropogenic influences (classes 10 to 13)
Eine Schülerin im Angebot Das Ökosystem Ostsee und die anthropogenen Einflüsse

Ecosystem Ocean - a fascinating habitat

The ecosystem ocean represents a fascinating habitat. So far, 95 % of the ocean have not been investigated yet and it consistently offers new question for researchers. The economic use of oceanic resources gets more important. At the same time, this increases hazards for the biotopes.

Exploring hazards for the oceanic habitat

The offer provides a holistic investigation of the ecosystem ocean where not only biological aspects are considered. The interdisciplinary program deals with biotic and abiotic factors of the habitat.

Based on technical fundamentals, students explore hazards for the oceanic habitat. They search for causes as well as possible solutions. Besides contamination through plastic waste and noise, also effects of climate change on the ecosystem are considered. Moreover, the topic eutrophication will be discussed.

This program from the ocean:lab can also be visited by students from classes 7 to 10. Further information here.

The ocean as an ecosystem and anthropogenic influences (classes 7 to 10)

Ecosystem Ocean - a fascinating habitat

The ecosystem ocean represents a fascinating habitat. So far, 95 % of the ocean have not been investigated yet and it consistently offers new question for researchers. The economic use of oceanic resources gets more important. At the same time, this increases hazards for the biotopes.

Exploring hazards for the oceanic habitat

The offer provides a holistic investigation of the ecosystem ocean where not only biological aspects are considered. The interdisciplinary program deals with biotic and abiotic factors of the habitat.

Based on technical fundamentals, students explore hazards for the oceanic habitat. They search for causes as well as possible solutions. Besides contamination through plastic waste and noise, also effects of climate change on the ecosystem are considered. Moreover, the topic eutrophication will be discussed.

This program from the ocean:lab can also be visited by students from classes 10 to 13. Further information here.

Plastic waste in the ocean – Who takes the garbage out? (from class 7 onwards)
Beim Kurstag in der Ferienakademie dreht sich alles um das Thema Plastikmüll in den Weltmeeren

Project day on plastic waste in the ocean:lab

Starting with school year 2018/19, the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt introduced a new six-hour long program about plastic waste in oceans. Boys and girls from classes 7 to 13 tackle this problem during their project day. Moreover, they learn about what everybody can do against pollution of the ocean.

Polluted beaches and animals trapped in plastic litter

The topic of plastic waste increasingly gains attention. Pictures from polluted beaches and animals trapped in plastic waste are widespread. Many children and teenagers wish to do something about this problem. But its seriousness and diversity are paralyzing at first. This is where the project day of the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt begins, followed by possible solutions from research and society.

Which possible solutions do already exist and what can each one of us do?

There are already research projects and innovative ideas for the solution of the problem in many fields of society. The students gain insight of how researchers investigate the topic. Also, they learn which possible solutions alternative plastics and waste management provide. The question of what everyone can do about the problem is addressed, as well.

Course program for the project day Plastic waste in the ocean

In an introduction, staff of the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt informs about basics of marine pollution. Other effects on marine biocenosis are discussed, too. Afterwards, students pass four different stations in smaller groups. At every station they investigate different solution approaches.

  • Microplastic – small particles, big problem
    Where on Earth are beaches most polluted by microplastic? What are the reasons for that and why is it important to know about it? The students will get to the bottom of these questions with the help of a scientific investigation. Besides the methodological procedure, the meaning of these kinds of investigations for tackling environmental issues will be focused on.
  • Bioplastic – an alternative with potential?
    Bio garbage bags and cutlery made of bioplastic promise to be biodegradable. At this station, students learn whether this promise can solve the problem and what bioplastic exactly is in chemical term. Together, we produce bioplastic and analyze its biodegradability.
  • Inform and convince with stop motion-movies
    Social networks serve to spread a multitude of information. This could be used to bring global pollution to people’s attention. At this station, students produce a stop motion-movie that informs about the problem of ocean waste. They are supposed to analyze the added value of social networks for tackling waste problems.
  • Recycling of plastic – a second chance for raw material
    Germany is a pioneer in separating and recycling waste. But what exactly happens when the trash leaves our homes and what kinds of recycling exist? The girls and boys will learn about this elaborate process and investigate advantages and disadvantages.

The project day takes about 6 hours.

Project day on marine mammals (classes 6 to 10)
Meeressäuger stehen im Fokus des Horizon 2020-Projektes Marine Mammals

Marine mammals: whales, seals, sea lions, sirenians, sea otters and polar bears

Marine mammals enjoy special attention worldwide. They are an important part of the marine ecosystem and have remarkable abilities. At the same time, these popular animals are highly endangered. Especially anthropogenic threats such as pollution, bycatch, habitat loss or ocean waste contribute to this situation. In a six-hour long program boys and girls from classes 6 to 10 will be divided into smaller groups and dive into the world of marine mammals.

Acoustics and noise pollution

At this station we deal with the question, how marine mammals hear and record their environment. Marine mammals live and communicate in an aquatic environment that is often dark and dim, which is why their view is limited. Especially whales have developed different communication strategies and orientation systems. These allow them to find their prey and communicate over long distances. Anthropogenic noises under water stresses many whales. Based on an experiment we illustrate how much noise is created through the construction of a wind farm, for example.

Plastic in the ocean

Whales and seals get caught in loose nets, also known as ghost-nets. They can get hurt or are unable to free themselves. Consequently, they might not be able to continue swimming. Sometimes, marine mammals eat plastic fragments accidently because they mix them up with food. Researchers often find huge amounts of plastic waste in the stomachs of animals that ran aground. In January 2016, 30 sperm whales ran aground at the coasts of the North Sea. Among others, they found fishing gear and plastic covering for the motor of a vehicle in the whale´s stomachs.

Diving, breathing and living under water

Living under water is accompanied by many challenges, such as the mammal´s respiration of lungs. These animals need to adapt in order to live in the water. An obvious problem is the threatening lack of oxygen during long dives. At this station, students learn about further challenges marine mammals have to defeat in order to live successfully under water.

Food of whales

Researchers examine the stomachs of whales that ran aground to find out what they eat. In the stomachs, they often find bone material and otoliths of fish or beaks of squids. At this station, the school class dissects and examines a squid. These are eaten by sperm whales, for instance.

Whaling – past and present

In some parts of the Earth, whaling already started 3,000 years BC. In the era of industrial whaling in the 20th century, most of the larger whale species were hunted until they nearly became extinct. Some countries continued whaling until today. Based on a role play, girls and boys discuss whether whaling should be abolished.

The project day takes about 6 hours.

Learn more on marine mammals here.

Photo/Copyright: Peter Verhoog, FjordandBælt
The baltic sea as a habitat (classes 3 to 6)

Living in a unique habitat

The baltic sea is a unique habitat. Changing abiotic conditions such as salinity requires highly flexible organisms. The main investigations of this program focus on the inhabitants of the baltic sea and their strong links among themselves.

Starting with plankton, the groups investigate the different levels of the food web and their importance for each other. The intervention of humans into the ecosystem baltic sea and the consequences shall also be considered.

  • Why is the Baltic Sea water sometimes sweet and sometimes salty?
  • What does the blue mussel have to do with the starfish?
  • What is plankton and why is it so important?
  • How does plastic waste find its way into the ocean?
  • Is noise pollution a problem for harbor porpoises?

In consultation with us, different topics can be chosen with an individual focus.

Plastic Pirates: citizen science for school and youth groups
Die Plastikpiraten sind eine Citizen Science Aktion für Jungen und Mädchen von 10 bis 16 Jahre

Collecting data for research

Since autumn 2016, Kiel Science Factory accompanies the Germany-wide citizen science campaign plastic pirates for children and teenagers aged 10 to 16. The campaign used to be part of the science year 2016*17 – seas and oceans from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Since 2018, the campaign is continued within the context of the BMBF-research focus plastic in the environment. This research focus aims to develop and convert scientific procedures, methods, instruments and terms for the investigation of plastic in ecosystems.

As plastic pirates, boys and girls collect data on plastic waste incidences in and by German rivers. Next, researchers of Kiel Science Factory analyze the data. For example, they analyze which river sections are particularly polluted by plastic or how the pollution develops from spring to mouth of a river. Effective precautionary measures that helps water bodies and ultimately all of us can be derived from that. The results from former campaigns can be seen here.

Join the plastic pirates!

All information about current campaign time periods are on the project-website. Here, you can also download material such as brochures, the project booklet or copy templates for lessons.

Kiel Science Factory looks forward to numerous Plastic Pirates who collect data for research in the following campaign periods.

The plastic pirates are also on Facebook

Kids‘ University

Insights into the world of science

The cluster of excellence Future Ocean started the Kids' University in autumn 2008 with a focus solely on marine topics. Since then professors from marine science related faculties from different departments of the cluster have been offering insights into their work. In the meantime other topics from the research profiles of Kiel University - Kiel Life Science, Kiel Marine Science, Societal, Environmental and Cultural Change (SECC) and Kiel Nano, Surface, and Interface Science - have been integrated. During the past years the Kids' University has become a constant attraction for students, parents and professors alike.

Read more here.

Students‘ research center at Kiel Science Factory
Im Schülerforschungszentrum besuchen Kinder und Jugendliche tolle Nachmittags- und Ferienangebote

Afternoon activities in the students' research center

During the afternoon activities in the students' research center of Kiel Science Factory, children and teenagers from third grade upwards are able to conduct their own research and work on scientific projects independently. Therefore, girls and boys find the optimal equipment in our student’s lab and accurate contact for their questions.

The students' research center Kiel Scinece Factory is open every Wednesday and Friday from 3 to 6 pm for everyone who is interested. Besides supervising own research projects, we also offer workshops and courses.

At the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt we do not only offer programs for students, but also teachers can get ideas and impulses.

With our teacher training workshops, you have the possibility to get information on current research topics. You receive valuable tips and ideas on how to integrate them into your lessons and incorporate them into the schedule.

Expedition boxes and stop motion boxes for teachers
Schülerinnen mit den Expeditionskisten

Diverse possibilities for teachers to arrange project days and project works

As a teacher you have the possibility to lend our expedition boxes for free. The boxes are available for a couple of days and up to four weeks as required.
Besides expedition boxes with marine topics such as plankton, benthos, plastic or marine mammals, we have boxes with the topics soil, water bodies and insects. Students can film movies with the stop motion box from the art:lab.

Expedition boxes on natural scientific topics:

  • Plankton (1x)
    The material of this box helps students to classify phytoplankton and zooplankton and measure the density of plankton, for instance.
  • Benthos (2x)
    The benthos-box helps students to classify animals. Moreover, they can carry out experiments on the filtration of mussels or on the camouflage abilities of prawns. Therefore, they are provided with a small aquarium with filters. Additionally, two different grabs for soil samples (Ekman-Birge-grab und van-Veen-grab) and nets for the collection of benthic organisms as well as waders can be borrowed.
  • Marine chemistry (2x)
    The material of this box allows measurements of oxygen, nitrogen, nitrate and phosphorous. Further, this box helps students to carry out experiments on ocean acidification.
  • Marine physics (1x)
    With this box, students are able to look at Baltic Sea models. Additional equipment for measurements is included as well.
  • Plastic (2x)
    The plastic-box helps to investigate macro- and microplastic.
  • Fish (1x)
    This box contains material for a fish autopsy, such as washing bowls, a dissecting set, white coats and gloves.
  • Marine mammals (1x)
    This box helps to carry out fascinating experiments on diving physiology, plastic pollution or acoustics under water.
  • Skeleton of a harbor porpoise (1x)
    With the help of a computer simulation, boys and girls can construct a real skeleton of a harbor porpoise.
  • Soil chemistry and physics (1x)
  • Soil compaction measuring instrument (1x)
  • Soil biology (1x)
  • Fresh water chemistry (1x)
  • Fresh water biology (1x)
  • Flower-visiting insects (1x)

Equipment of the expedition boxes

All boxes contain material for an extensive school project. Additionally, microscopes and binoculars can be lent. We can also provide you with different lecture notes on numerous experiment suggestions and reference books.

Stop motion boxes

Besides the natural scientific boxes, the art:lab lends five stop motion boxes with all the equipment for a simple cartoon. This includes tablets, crafting material, extension cable, power supply units and scripts.