10,000 Islands Dolphin Project's
Environmental Studies Program
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About Our Program

Our mission is not only our core research of the bottlenose dolphin population
in Southwest Florida, we strive to share our experiences and educate students from
any location in the world on the environment and its importance by using modern technology
that allows us to bring nature into the classroom.


The Program is composed of up to 20 Lesson Plans targeting third to seventh graders. We have aligned the Program to the Common Core State Standards. Each of the Lesson Plans addresses an individual element, structured to be 45 minutes to 1 hour in length of which 15 minutes is live from one of our survey vessels.

The class is provided a program calendar with the live schedule (eastern standard time) and can tune in to
watch our LIVE broadcast channel, The Dolphin Explorers. If they can't watch it at that moment they can go back and watch the archived video ANYTIME after it airs or watch the next live session. This allows flexibility for the teachers in case there is no school or testing interfering with the program. Students can even chat questions directly to the survey team. The rest of the lesson content can be taught at any time surrounding the live session. Everything included is easily accessed using the teacher log in on our site. 

We offer a variety of Program units to choose from, see "our programs" tab. 
Choose the Florida Explorers Unit which is aligned with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards as well as FL Common Core State Standards if your school is located locally in Florida! If you are interested in doing a different package not listed or something specific please contact us.

Environmental literacy is essential in younger generations. This program will model for students how to care for the environment. Showing the class the real world in real time brings an added excitement to learning. The surprise’s Mother Nature provides us with captivates the students curiosity about what they’ll see next. Experiences like this help children develop a sense of responsibility for our water, land and wildlife.


Studying the environment also teaches the students how to integrate critical thinking with science, technology and reading skills. By including the class as part of the survey team during the program, it provides a sense of importance. With an increased knowledge of conservation it will arm students with the tools to go out into the world and make a difference.

Add Ons:
  • School visit from a member of the Survey Team (for Collier and Lee County only)
  • Live Question and Answer Skype session with the Survey Team (see requirements below)
  • Field Trip on the Dolphin Explorer 3 hour tour to Keewaydin Island and back while participating hands-on in teams observing dolphin sightings, recording data, taking photographs and more.

Program Requirements:
  • Internet connection
  • Access to our website (Note: videos are from our YouTube channel but will play on our page)
  • Classroom whiteboard and projector or smart board to display live session/videos to class
  • For added Question & Answer session with our Survey Team you will need a Skype account, speakers and a microphone, and a webcam set up.


Lesson Themes:

This program uses Southwest Florida’s natural habitat to explain five different themes:



This theme teaches the students the importance of conserving and protecting natural habitats and wildlife. They will learn about endangered species and ways they are being protected. This theme also shows the class “hands on” ways that they can help and how to spread the word and raise awareness. Solving environmental problems inspires creative and critical thinking.

Relationships in the ecosystem

A great introduction to ecology, this theme will begin to show students how everything is interconnected. It will demonstrate the importance of relationships between all plants and animals in an ecosystem. It also stresses to the students that as humans they have the most important relationship to the environment.

Science and Research

Since February 2005 we have compiled data that relates to our daily dolphin surveying. We incorporate the research into the lesson plans to give the students a unique and accurate perspective of the coastal bottlenose dolphins and the world they live in.

Water Properties

This theme teaches the importance of the waters and how factors such as temperature, flow and quality affect all of the plants and animals in and around it.


The environment of Southwest Florida encompasses many types of habitats. This theme describes the individual habitats, how they are connected to one another and which animals rely on them.


Check out our sample lesson plan to view the following...

Classroom Activities:


Live Lesson: Each lesson will have a live broadcast from one of the Survey Team members for about 15-20 minutes. This will include the lesson information but also any "real time" wildlife sightings or surprises out on the water.


Videos: Lesson Video, Vocabulary Video and a Conversation with the Survey Team Video. 


Prezi: A fun way to reiterate the vocabulary words and view more photos.


Breaking News: Any breaking news that was captured on camera from on board the Dolphin Explorer will be shared on the Program blog. It may include video of bottlenose dolphins in the wild, discovery of a newborn dolphin, sea turtle nests or anything else exciting we may have come across recently and want to share with the students. Videos are all archived on our YouTube channel. It keeps the students involved, connected and current in our project.



Worksheet, Word Search Puzzle, Review Questions, Additional Handouts/Activities

We provide up to 30 complimentary Dolphin Project patches with each unit upon completion of the Program (except the school subscription which can be separate at .75 cents each) and
a printable Certificate of Completion for the teacher to award to each student. 


Resources and Further Reading:


The Dolphin Study website: This website is extremely informational and a great tool for research. All of the survey data from the beginning of the project until now is accessible with the click of a button. The students can use Google earth from here to see the range of specific dolphins. Also available is the catalogue of all the dolphins so they can look up each one by name and see its unique markings on their dorsal fins and learn to identify individuals just like real scientists!


Student/Teacher Program blog: Students have the option of completing "blog challenges" throughout the Program or posting questions for the Survey Team. Teachers can also connect between schools. 

The Dolphin Chronicles blog: The blog is written by one of the survey team members. Some of the articles posted in sequence follow the rescue of Seymour, the young sub-adult we discovered with an entanglement last year. Other articles discuss our local dolphin population and their environment. Teachers, parents and students can use this blog to gain even more insight into what is happening on a current basis.


Books to read: We provide a list of children’s books we recommend for each lesson topic. A favorite book of previous classes involved in our program was Dolphin Tale: The Junior Novel by Gabrielle Reyes.

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