High School Programs

“Varsity Research” is the heart of the CSCR student research experience.

Varsity Research Teams are small, dedicated groups of students committed to the team’s research goal(s). Our rich history of engaging students in authentic, community-driven research has taught us that this is the best way to run our high school research teams– our Varsity Research teams. These are teams comprised of students committed to team goals, ready to build their “54 hour portfolios,” and resolved to publicly share their findings with community stakeholders. If this is the right fit for you or your family’s student, please register today.
Varsity Research Teams begin each season with spring meetings that occur as frequently (or infrequently) as student availability allows. The bulk of research, portfolio work, and data management takes place during the summer months, followed by regular (as schedules allow) fall and winter meetings dedicated to data analysis and preparation for publishing team research at our annual State of the Harbor Community Forum. This is the research cycle, the authentic rhythm of professional research teams. Given that we engage students in authentic research, we are beholden to this tried and true rhythm.


Varsity Research Projects (Summer 2023)

Click Here To Access Registration 2023

Bacteria Monitoring: Our bacteria monitoring program engages students throughout the South Shore. We are working with high school and college students from Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, Scituate, and Weymouth to conduct a comprehensive analysis of enterococci and e.coli bacteria in water bodies from the Weymouth Back River to Musquashicut Pond in Scituate. Contact Jack Buckley (jbuckley@ccscr.org) for information about this project; however, note that this project is being co-run by CHS Science Dept Chair Ed Savage and veteran sage of microbiology, retired CHS Biology teacher, Pattie Thompson.

Eelgrass and Estuarine Ecosystem Research: Relevance, findings, engineering challenges, and student participants may overlap for this project’s 3 threads, below. No prior experience, (other than a friendly collaborative attitude), is necessary to jump into these cutting-edge learn-by-trying-it projects, but the schedule rotates based on tides (not shown on the graphic above) so you’ll need to check our session reservation schedule to sign up for the ones you can make, or contact Susan Bryant (sbryant@ccscr.org) with questions:

  1. Eelgrass Field Survey: We will continue our surveying of the eelgrass meadows using various combinations of gopro cameras, ArcGIS, gps trackers, snorkeling and kayaking. Outer-harbor boat-based activities are scheduled around the low tides.  
  2. Eelgrass Tanks:  Designing, building and testing sensor systems and tanks of eelgrass at CSCR to find out if seagrass wasting disease will impact eelgrass more depending on salinity.
  3. Bassings Dune Grass: Testing, coding, photographing and counting dune vegetation on Bassing Beach Island to see if drones and a neural network of machine learning can survey dune grass effectively.  

Watershed (Water Quality Monitoring): Our water quality work this summer will once again focus on the Gulf River and the influences of tributaries that cross, connect and unite the towns of Cohasset and Scituate in their concern to promote and protect the ecological integrity of the Gulf River system. We continue to investigate sources of pollution by measuring nitrates, phosphates, bacteria, pH, chlorophyll-a, and optical brighteners (detergent), among others. This project is once again led by Dr. Ann Thomae, CSCR’s chief scientific officer and recently retired chair of the Cohasset Science Dept. Contact Dr. Thomae (athomae@ccscr.org) for information about this project. 

Harbor Oceanography: This is a new initiative (by name) in 2021 that combines some prior research activities measuring salinity, temperature, and current flows in the harbor (physical oceanography) with some new research activities– plankton tows to identify phytoplankton and zooplankton species in our waters (biological oceanography). This project will be skippered by CSCR Board Member and professional mariner, the inimitable Francis Collins. However, contact Jack Buckley (jbuckley@ccscr.org) for information about this project.

Salt Marsh Study: This is a project that grew out of work initiated in 2020 by a small team of Cohasset and Scituate High School students interested in documenting the health of salt marshes in the Gulf River and Cohasset Harbor. It morphed into the Picture Post project featured in our State of the Harbor presentation and will continue along that track. Contact Jack Buckley (jbuckley@ccscr.org) for information about this project.

GIS Field and Lab Training: GIS is Geographic Information Systems. GIS tools are mapping tools that allow users to visualize and communicate data in unique ways. GIS is used throughout all CSCR projects; therefore, we have created a dedicated time and space for students who wish to explore GIS more, develop more skills, and discover new ways to apply the tool to community-driven research topics. Environmental Justice, watershed mapping and exploration, demographics, and the suite of tools found in ESRI’s ArcGIS Online platform will be explored in this course. Although students interested in this course should contact Jack Buckley (jbuckley@ccscr.org), students and families should know that this course will be co-taught by others (students and adults) with specialized GIS skills.

Engineering: Formerly a program called Drifters where students designed, built, and deployed ocean drifters equipped with salinity and temperature probes that track surface currents and the flow of salt and fresh waters that swirl throughout the harbor. This year Scituate High School’s Robotics Club advisor Ralph Perrotto will lead our engineering program. We have also partnered with Particle which is generously supplying materials and advice.

Independent Research: One of the great benefits of being a member of a Varsity Research team is that we offer our Varsity Research students guidance and mentoring about designing independent research projects. Generally, this takes place in March and April, months aligned with application deadlines established by foundations that fund student research. For more information about independent coaching and short-term independent study email us.