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Fishing, STEM and more at Sanibel Sea School

By Staff | Aug 20, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED The Sanibel Sea School is currently taking sign-ups for its After School Programs.

Registration recently opened to families for the Sanibel Sea School’s After School Programs.

For the fall, the non-profit organization will offer “After School Fishing” for children ages 8-13 and “After School STEM: The Magic of Magnets” for ages 6-13 at its flagship campus on Sanibel. In addition, the Sanibel Sea School will offer “After School Ocean Art” during the winter for ages 6-13.

“Most of our campers are local,” Director of Communications Leah Biery said.

As island and Fort Myers residents, families begin requesting a few years ago that the non-profit provide programming to keep students engaged during the school year and on days off from school. She explained that they implemented the after-school programming in response to those requests.

The following programs and related sessions are being offered in the fall:

PHOTO PROVIDED Sanibel Sea School participants use a seine net to explore what is under the ocean's surface. As part of its fall programming, the organization will host a session on “Seining & Cast Netting” on Sept. 3.


Learn about the history and advancement of fishing, the basic skills required to start fishing on one’s own, and some of the habits and preferences of creatures. Participants may even get to bend a rod.

– Sept. 3: “Seining & Cast Netting” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Seining is a form of net fishing used by the Calusa, so come learn how to do it. Seine in seagrass beds and other habitats. Potential creature features include: seahorses, pipe fish, comb jellies, pin fish and crabs. After seining, move on to cast netting. Instead of pulling nets, launch them into the air.

– Sept. 10: “Fly Tying” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

For years, fly fishers have been masters of trickery – creating crabs from feathers and fish from deer hair – to lure in wild creatures with their ties. Come learn how to tie flies with local experts, including fly designer and author Drew Chicone. View some of his work on Instagram @drchicone.

– Sept. 17: “Fly Casting” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

After tying flies, learn how to cast them. Learning how to cast with a fly rod takes patience, but fret not, because participating students will learn from the best.

– Sept. 24: “Spin Fishing” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Explore all things spin fishing. Students will learn the basic skills required to start fishing on their own and the biology behind where and when to catch that prized fish.

“One of the most requested things that we get from families is to teach fishing,” Biery said.

She explained that it can be difficult to accomplish in the organization’s regular camps, however, because of the size of the groups and because not all campers want to fish or want to learn. The after-school sessions are limited to about 10 students, so the instructors can provide personal attention.

“Which is a really great size to teach fishing,” Biery said.

The program will delve deep into skills that serve as the basic tools for youth to go fishing on their own. It will teach them how to fish effectively, but also what is safe for them and for the environment.

She also noted the “Fly Tying” session with local author and expert Chicone.

“He’s a really well-known fly tying artist nationally,” Biery said. “That’s kind of a special session, so we’re really excited to have him come and work with the kids.”


Investigate forces that attract or repel. Through experimentation and hands-on activities, discover the difference between natural, electromagnetic, temporary and permanent magnets.

– Oct. 1: “What is Magnetism?” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Magnetism is a physical phenomenon produced by the motion of electric charge. Every magnet has a positive pole (north) and negative pole (south), which create a magnetic field around the magnet. What better way to explore these forces than by making everyone’s favorite ooey gooey substance – slime – but this time with a magic magnetic twist.

– Oct. 8: “Electromagnets” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Electromagnets are magnets that run on electricity. The strength of the magnet is controlled by the amount of electricity running through it. Students will explore how they function and create their own trains powered by electromagnetism.

– Oct. 15: “Magnets in Motion” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Let’s convert magnetism to mechanical energy. Because of the attraction and repulsion between magnets, one magnet has enough force to push another magnet along a track without actually touching it. When two “like-ends” of a magnet face each other, they are repulsed, which causes them to move apart. Create mazes and use the repelling forces of magnets to navigate through them.

– Oct. 22: “Compasses – Natural & Man Made” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Earth’s inner and outer core repel and create a spinning magnetic field with positive and negative ends. There is magnetic force flowing from the North Pole to the South Pole. Compasses work by interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field, attracting the “north” end of the compass magnet to the North Pole and the “south” end of the magnet to the South Pole. Before technology, a compass was the only tool available for exploring both land and sea. Learn how to read a compass and then use one to complete a scavenger hunt.

“Our STEM sessions are sort of our approach to fill a gap in STEM education,” Biery said. “There’s not a lot of STEM education available outside of school in the United States.”

In the past, the Sanibel Sea School has offered programs on topics like physics, volcanoes and earthquakes, and weather. It is intended to supplement school instruction with hands-on activities.

She pointed out the scavenger hunt in the Oct. 22 session.

“That will give them an opportunity to learn about magnetism, but also participate in a really fun scavenger hunt using a compass,” Biery said.


In addition, the Sanibel Sea School will host “After School Ocean Art” during the winter.

Open to ages 6-13, students will get creative and use everything from shells to coconuts to make art pieces to take home or give as gifts for the holidays. All of the art materials needed for the sessions will be supplied, and the instructors will guide them through a new ocean-inspired art project each week.

The sessions are set for Oct. 29, Nov. 5, Nov. 12 and Nov. 19.

They will also take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the flagship campus.

“The Ocean Art, we always schedule it in November-December,” Biery said. “We try to plan crafts that could be given as holiday gifts, so that’s our program that leads up to winter break (for students).”

“In the past, we’ve done things like shell picture frame, sand dollar ornaments,” she added. “They have done some really cool sand art where they’ve made colored sand and used it to make sand paintings.”

All of the fall and winter after-school programs cost $20 per youth per session.

A $5 discount is available when registering for all four sessions.

“We always offer scholarships,” Biery said.

Families are encouraged to sign up.

“This year’s after-school sessions are all new and different from anything we have offered in the past,” she said. “Our education team has put so much thought and creativity into planning fun educational experiences for participants, and every program is different, so there is something for everyone.”

“We hope you will join us for all or part of the season,” Biery added.

With the start of 2020, the Sanibel Sea School has the following planned: “After School Survival Skills” in January, “After School STEM: Engineering Challenges” in February, “After School Ocean Art” in March, and “After School Gheenoe Paddling” in April. The details will be available later.

For more information or to register, visit sanibelseaschool.org/afterschool or email info@sanibelseaschool.org.

The Sanibel Sea School’s flagship campus is at 455 Periwinkle Way.