Field Trips to the MSC

The centerpiece of the MSC Outreach Program is the rocky shore field experience. Scientists have been studying the rocky shore at Nahant for over 150 years, and this two to three hour student experience introduces students to both marine life and how scientists conduct field study in this pristine coastal setting. Contact Carole McCauley at with any questions, or fill out the registration form for the program.


Although this is highly dependent on grade level, typical field experiences include the following, with younger students tending to focus more on biodiversity and older students tending to focus more on field research skills:

  • What Lives Here – Identification and classification of common marine invertebrates and algae
  • Why Does it Live Here – Hypothesizing, testing, and analyzing how abiotic factors affect the distribution of life on the rocky shore
  • How Does it Live Here – How species adapt to these challenging conditions
  • How Do We Know All This – How scientists collect data and conduct field research on the rocky shore

Students will collect real data in the field that will be available to teachers to bring back to their classrooms. Students will also get a chance to visit our touch tanks and interact with species they may not have found on the shore. If time permits, students will be escorted across the dramatic geology of East Point and learn about the area’s unique and renowned natural and human history.


Programs are offered year-round, but typically take place between April and November. They are booked to coincide as closely as possible with low tides, consideration of which is important for the intertidal field experience. Bookings and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and may be made at any time.

Programs are offered during the MSC’s regular hours of operation, which are 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.


Programs will run rain or shine, and will only be cancelled in the event of strong winds or lightning. You may cancel or reschedule your program more than 30 days prior your program. Cancellation after that time may incur a $100 charge, unless we are able to rebook another program in your time slot.


A minimum of three weeks is required to ensure that all of the liability paperwork is in order. However, many schools book months in advance to secure the most ideal dates.

A 1:10 ratio of chaperones to students is required for all school groups. Chaperones must be physically able to accompany students onto the rocks.

Closed-toed shoes are a requirement of all visitors to the rocky shore. Those without close-toed shoes will need to remain on the beach while the rest of the group conducts its field study.

Cost & How to Pay

The cost for a 3-hour program is $300 for up to 30 students. Up to 3 groups may be booked simultaneously if space is available.

You will be invoiced after-the-fact for outreach programs, but in the event that you choose to pay in advance, please note that all checks must be made payable to NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY.

Additional Information

There is no swimming allowed at the MSC at any time, although participants’ feet may get wet in the tidepools.

Restrooms are available for use in the main building for guided programs. Unless previously arranged or as part of a guided program, access to laboratory and research areas is prohibited. Use of the restrooms must be supervised by teachers or chaperones, and in a manner respectful of the faculty, staff, and students who work in the building.

Most groups choose to have lunch either during or after their field program, and the MSC hosts a large lawn that is perfect for picnicking.

Collection or removal of ANY items (e.g., live animals, sand, shells, seawater) from the grounds is strictly prohibited without prior permission from the MSC Director. Visitors should not cause harm to any living organism at any time. Disruptive, dangerous, or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.

The weather in Nahant is usually a bit cooler and windier than on the “mainland”. Layers of clothing, a change of shoes and clothes, and/or rain gear is highly recommended. A hat is advisable.


To request a program, please fill out the contact form. A member of our team will be in contact with you with additional instructions and paperwork.