Young Scientists Program

The Young Scientists Program (YSP) offers ocean-loving high school students the opportunity to explore their passion for science by conducting hands-on research projects in conjunction with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s Aquatic Nursery. Aquarium staff mentor students through scientific investigations on local marine topics with an emphasis on conservation and aquarium science.  

Students spend nine months developing a project, learning safe lab practices, and conducting their research before presenting at our annual Young Scientists Symposium. This symposium has served as a celebration event for our students to share their projects with program supporters and the greater community. After this nine-month journey, participants will have learned how to design, propose, experiment, analyze, and share scientific research. Throughout the program, students will be led by a team of CMA staff, helping them every step of the way. At its most fundamental level, this program hones a Young Scientists communication skills and understanding through this scientific journey. At a higher level, these programs offer our members and visitors an opportunity to learn about the important research and conservation conducted at the Aquarium.  

2023-2024 Young Scientists Symposium

We are happy to announce that the Young Scientists Program is back, with our in-person student research program taking place for the first time since the pandemic. We have students currently conducting research projects within the Aquatic Nursery, along with a number of other students participating in field research projects throughout the surrounding Cabrillo Beach Coastal park. These projects include: students conducting experiments  with our various microalgae cultures, assessing how varying photoperiods affect red abalone growth, understanding the salt marsh’s effect on the local water quality, highlighting and evaluating the impact of microplastics on our local waters, and so much more! 

To learn more about the awesome work this year’s group of Young Scientists have been working on during their time in the program, please be sure to join us this Spring for the annual Young Scientists Poster Symposium. This event showcases each participating student’s research poster reflecting the incredible work conducted as part of their project. (Official date to be announced soon). 

And if you or someone you know is interested in applying for our next round of YSP beginning in Spring 2024, please send an email to for more information on the application process. Our annual YSP Ice Breaker event will take place in April 2024, where students will have the opportunity to meet our staff, learn more about the program and the application process, and  interact with previous participants to learn more about their experiences in the program. We hope to see you there!