Category Archives: Science at Sea

Ultimate Science Vacations – Science at Sea Takes an Up Close Look at Alaska

For the third time, the Steve Spangler team and award-winning naturalists explored the inside passage of Alaska. The group, along with teachers and science enthusiasts boarded a Holland America cruise ship earlier this week for a special Science at Sea excursion.

Science at Sea -  Cruising in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Alaska is known for its spectacular scenery, glaciers, mountains, untamed wilderness and vast wildlife populations. Science abounds in the largest U.S. state. Cut Alaska in half, and each half is still larger than Texas.

The state not only boasts the biggest land size, but also holds the smallest population of the 50 states. Only 650,000 people call Alaska home. Twice as many tourists visit every year.

Google Maps
Courtesy: Google Maps

Alaska contains more coastline, more lakes, more streams and rivers, more National Parks, more wildlife refuges, more natural resources, more forests, more glaciers and more wildlife than any other state in America. Seventeen of North America’s twenty highest mountains, including the tallest, Denali at over 20,000 feet, are found in Alaska. It is also home to the largest National Forest and largest National Park in the 50 states.

Alaska has more earthquakes, more volcanoes, more glaciers, more mountains than anyplace in North America. – John Scheerens, naturalist.

The crew cruised the famous Inside Passage of the the Pacific Northwest Coast or southeast Alaska for one week. They viewed spectacular, rugged, high mountains cloaked in lush temperate rainforests, enormous ice fields and glaciers, scenic 1,000-foot deep fjords, and a plethora of marine mammals and sea birds. Alaska also has a rich human history and social sciences story anchored by Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast that have lived in the area for over 8,000 years, and also includes the great Gold Rush of 98 and World War II.

Some of our guests for Science at Sea 2013
Some of our guests for Science at Sea 2013

The tour included visits to some of Alaska’s most popular towns and cities. Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, enjoys perhaps the most scenic setting of any state capital in America; Sitka, a most charming village on Alaska’s outer coast once known as the Paris of the Pacific, ancient home of the Kiksadi people and seat of government and administration for Russian America; spectacular Glacier Bay National Park, home to half the tidewater glaciers in North America; Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world known as Alaska’s First City; and Victoria, a lovely small city on the southern coast of Vancouver Island and provincial capital of British Columbia. Native traders, fur trappers, gold seekers, and sightseers have all marveled at the magnificence of the Inside Passage.

Global Warming is at work in Alaska and you can witness it firsthand. Glaciers and the sea ice are melting at a rapid pace, so fast, that some glaciers are in danger of becoming extinct. New shipping routes have opened in the Arctic making it easier to travel between Norway and Asia, specifically. The wildlife is also suffering. Polar bears are drowning while swimming and looking for food.

Glacial Ice Melting in the Arctic - Global Warming

Alaska is full of geography and geology lessons as well. When asked where the most northern and western extremes of America are found, Alaska is an easy answer. The eastern part of the 50 states is also found in Alaska. The state’s Aleutian Islands cross the dateline so the eastern extreme of the U.S. is also in Alaska.

The Aleutians were the first parts of Alaska settled by Europeans. Two of the larger islands, Dutch Harbor and Kodiak are two of the largest seafood producing communities in the world.

Geology dictates the natural environment of Alaska. Particularly the southeastern part is one of the most geologically active places on earth. There are more earthquakes, more volcanoes, more glaciers, more mountains than anyplace in North America.

Plate tectonics is also a huge part of the Alaskan geology. The North American Plate is riding over the top of the Pacific Plate in a process called subduction under Alaska. The Pacific Plate is moving north and counterclockwise against the western moving North American Plate causing a shearing action. The subduction causes Alaska’s massive mountain features and volcanic activity. The mountains are grow taller at a rate of about an inch or more a year. The shearing action creates earthquakes along the coastline.

Can you spot the kayaker?
Can you spot the kayaker?

Glaciers are also an incredibly important part of Alaska’s past and present. They are responsible for thousands of islets, fjords and waterways. A large part of our tour included visits to the largest and most spectacular glaciers.

Finally, Alaska has abundant wildlife on land and in the water. Long daylight hours in the summer encourages a lot of vegetation growth on land and algae or plankton in the water. Marine life teems in the oceans, mammals large and small thrive in the forests and tundra and millions of birds nest along shorelines and in forested areas.

A whale breaching in Alaska - Science at Sea from Steve Spangler Science

Scheerens adds “Alaska offers some of the finest habitat and food resources on the planet to support some of the largest wildlife populations anywhere in the world.”

Many thanks to our naturalist John Scheerens for the research and information included in this article and for all of his knowledge, insights and enthusiasm about the great state of Alaska.

John is considered the teacher of teachers in Alaska serving as the training consultant for most of the major tour companies throughout Alaska. John has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, ESPN’s Outdoor Adventure Series, and Outdoor Channels Pathfinder’s Series, and his educational tours have received the highest praise among his peers. We cannot think of the better tour leader for our Science at Sea experience.


All Aboard for Science at Sea in 2013

Spangler Seminars heads out to sea for the third time in June 2013 for Science at Sea in Alaska. Come aboard Holland America with our award-winning naturalist and Steve Spangler to explore the inside passage of Alaska. Travel to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Ketchikan and Tracy Arm while experiencing one of a kind excursions and lectures only available to Science at Sea participants.

The roundtrip leaves from Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 22, 2013 and returns on June 30, 2013.

This trip isn’t just for teachers – it’s for anyone who wants to learn more about the geography, history, wildlife and more. This is an educational experience of a lifetime, so bring your children, your friends, significant others and extended family. This is a family affair.

To come along with us on this special interactive and educational trip, you need to register in two places. First, register for Science at Sea on our website. Our Science at Sea seminars and naturalist-led excursions are unique and are only for our group. You will also get a special pre-cruise kickoff class with Steve and our Naturalist,  John Scheerens, to prepare you for the trip on June 22nd.

The cost of the Spangler part of the event is $1695 per person. This includes the cost of all of our customized shore excursions in each port, ground transportation, the onboard instruction with our naturalists, and a few surprises that are part of any Spangler experience. You may register additional people under your primary registration for the discounted fee of $1495 per person. Remember… this fee includes the price of all of the shore excursions and entitles family members and friends to participate in all of the onboard workshops and experiences.

Next, choose your cabin aboard the Holland America Zuiderdam. The Spangler Science team has partnered with Holland America to offer special group discount pricing to everyone registered for Science at Sea (a fee structure not available to the public). The rate for your room will be separate from your event registration fee above and will be paid directly to Holland America Line. Once you’ve registered for the Science at Sea event, our personal Holland America Line cruise consultant will contact you to help guide you through the cabin selection.

Why Should I Travel with Science at Sea? 

You can expect the same high level of support and professionalism that you’ve come to count on with all Steve Spangler Science experiences.

This is an experience with the elite Steve Spangler staff and time with Steve himself. We have people in place to make sure you have an amazing experience, hands down.  Every detail is planned and organized ahead of time. All you need to do is get on the boat and the rest is taken care of for you. We will take excursions as a group, but also allow for time on your own for souvenir shopping or exploring.

Make sure you bring a camera to record your personal experiences, but don’t worry about documenting everything. The entire experience is recorded by our Emmy-Award winning videographer, edited and distributed to all Science at Sea guests.

Our naturalist, John Scheerens, is extremely knowledgeable about Alaska, especially the science side of Alaska. From the marine life to geology, to glaciers and the history of the area, John knows it all. Ask him any question you may have about Alaska and he will either know it or be able to get an answer in a short time.

While at sea, we offer exclusive educational opportunities where John share information on the science of the area – wildlife to look for, points of interest and helpful sightseeing tips. John knows all of the secret spots to eat, where to visit, what to see and what not to miss.

Our excursions are unique and special to our group. No one else on the cruise gets the opportunity for the same experiences. Our tours are in-depth and travel to remote locations.


Science at Sea 2011 – How do Teachers Get Excited About Teaching?

Our staff along with almost 100 teachers just returned from an amazing hands-on learning experience on a cruise to Alaska.

Great teachers will go to extreme measures to get kids excited about learning, but how do you get teachers excited about teaching? You put them on a cruise ship in the middle of southeast Alaska for Science at Sea.

The cruise immerses the teachers in the environment, culture and the science of Alaska.

It’s a seven-day program where teachers across the country meet with the best naturalists in Alaska to learn about ecosystems, wildlife and how we effect the world we live in. The teacher take that experience back to the classroom.

The best teachers take time during their summer break to learn and prepare for the next school year. What has your teacher been up to this summer?

Coolest Field Trip Ever – Winners Announced

In July, my team of naturalists and I will lead a group of about 120 science enthusiasts on an educational cruise to Alaska. Our Science at Sea 2009 cruise was sold out and this year we’ve added more space and taken our custom shore excursions to a whole new level.
I wanted to offer free registration for our second Science at Sea trip to a Facebook fan who could tell us why they wanted to join us on the coolest field trip ever this summer.
Contestants had to submit a video giving us a creative look at why they should win the free registration. After much deliberation, five pots of coffee, and two breaks to go out into the parking lot and blow something up, the judges have decided to announce three winners…

Win a $995 Registration to Science at Sea 2011

Science at Sea Registration Contest

We are packing our bags and setting sail for Alaska and Science at Sea this July. And we want you to join us for FREE.

Enter the Coolest Field Trip Ever Contest to win registration to Science at Sea 2011. This covers the cost of all our customized shore excursions in each port, ground transportation, six onboard seminars with our naturalists, Steve Spangler’s pre-cruise kick-off workshop in Seattle on July 16 and a few surprises that are part of the Spangler experience. You will be responsible for booking your own cabin on Holland America and airfare.

The deadline to post your video on our Facebook page is February 16, 2011. The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on February 25, 2011.

It’s Easy to Enter…

  1. Open your calendar and clear the dates of July 16-24, 2011.
  2. Buy a few sweaters.
  3. Make a 1-2 minute video telling us why you should win a free registration to Science at Sea 2011.
  4. Upload the video to your YouTube account and post the link on our Facebook Fan Page -
  5. “Like” us on our Facebook at to receive contest updates.

About the Video

Here’s your chance to be as creative as possible and tell us why you should win a free registration to Science at Sea. Be creative – star in your own music video, produce a news story, perform a skit with your students, but find a way to grab the judges’ attention and make them remember your entry. Your video must be between 1-2 minutes in length. Upload your video to YouTube and post a link to your video on our Facebook page at

Read complete contest rules >

About Science at Sea

Steve Spangler and his instructional team have assembled an award-winning group of naturalists and teachers who will lead you through an unforgettable learning experience July 16-24, 2011. The Science at Sea Alaskan cruise sets sail from Seattle, Washington, and stops in Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, and the Inside Passage in Alaska before wrapping up back in Seattle.  Learn more about Science at Sea.