Frequently Asked Questions
We welcome all students who have a strong desire to learn and who demonstrate an interest and aptitude in science as evidenced by their teacher recommendation. Due to the extensive work in the field and on board boats however, students with severe emotional, physical or learning issues will have difficulty with the program. Though many students with ADD, ADHD and other mild learning disabilities have done very well at AIO, we are not equipped to appropriately handle more severe issues. Since we want to ensure a memorable experience, academically and personally for all students, we ask that you seriously consider what is best for your child before registering.
How do I get to Seal Harbor? When should I arrive/depart?
Students can be driven by a parent, take a bus into Bar Harbor or Bangor or fly into the Bar Harbor or Bangor Airports. We will pick students up from the bus stop or airport for no additional charge. Arrival and departure days are those listed as the first and last days of each session. Students should plan to arrive between 12 noon and 5 pm on the first Sunday and depart on the last Friday between noon and 5 pm. Please don't plan to arrive prior to noon on Sunday as the staff is off duty until that time. Most students not flying will stay the rest of the day and leave with their parents after the Family cookout offered from 4:30 pm until approximately 6:00 pm. Departure after this time will incur an additional fee (see refund policy).
No. Our sessions are broken into introductory, intermediate and advanced. The introductory session is for students 10-12 years of age, the intermediate for students 12 to 15 while the advanced sessions are for students who have completed a minimum of a high school science course (preferably biology or chemistry) typically 15 -19 years of age.
Yes! We can accommodate many food allergies and choices but please read the following carefully.
• Students will receive two home cooked and well-balanced meals at breakfast and dinner each day. For lunch, students are given the choice of many different items to make their own sandwiches and we bring fruit, cookies, crackers, juice and water for a picnic lunch eaten near the end of the morning activity. At breakfast, we always offer cereals, fruit, bagels/toast, milk, juice, hot chocolate and a hot meal option.
• If you have checked any box on the registration indicating a food allergy or restriction, we will purchase food for the session accordingly. For this reason, it is assumed the child will follow the menu created for their allergy. For example, if you have checked "peanut-free" then we assume they will eat the peanut-free meal prepared for them. It is very difficult to make last minute changes once the food is ordered for the program so please let us know no less than two weeks prior to the start of the session. Changes made after that time may require you to bring special meals for the participant.
• Though we are able to accommodate food allergies and many food restrictions, you will need to discuss them with the Director prior to attendance. We are able to keep the cooking nut-free, if necessary, and we always offer vegetarian alternatives at meals. We cannot, however, control the food that is sent to students in care packages or the food they purchase while away from the building. We have also found that peanut butter is a staple food for many people, especially vegetarians so it is offered as an option for lunch. Still, we can and have successfully included students every summer in our program with life-threatening allergies to nuts by strictly controlling where the peanut butter is used and by separating the allergic student's lunch from others.
• If the participant is choosing to limit gluten in their diet, please plan to bring two loaves of their favorite gluten-free bread and two weeks of snacks (such as cookies and crackers) that can be used in their picnic lunches. Since meals are made fresh each day, there will only be one hot gluten free option available at dinner. It is assumed that participants will make the best dietary choices for their health and choose to eat the gluten-free option offered. A gluten free cereal and fruit will be available at breakfast in case the hot meal isn't gluten free.
• We are not a kosher facility.
• Due to the number of individual meals already required to accommodate allergies, we are unable to offer a strict vegan diet.
• "Picky eaters" are encouraged to try the food but if they choose not to, you will want to send some additional non-perishable snacks for their snack box and they may eat them after the meal.
Though our weekend schedule will differ, a typical weekday might look like this:
7 AM: students wake up for showers or morning lab
8 AM: breakfast
9 AM - 1 PM: morning activity (usually academic: boat trips, tide pool, etc)
2-5 PM: afternoon activity (recreational or academic)
5:15-5:45 PM: mini-seminar on various topics offered or free time
6 PM: dinner
7-8 PM: recreation (i.e. volleyball, basketball, soccer, etc)
8-9 PM: evening lectures to prepare for the next morning activity
Yes, but most students come on their own. If you are attending with a friend, let us know if you want to be in the same dorm or group splits by writing it on the application in the appropriate space. The dorms are separated by gender and the splits are created according to age so we'll do our best to accommodate your request. Once the dorm arrangements and splits have been organized, it’s impossible to change it without affecting several other students so please make your requests prior to the start of the session.
No, though some students may require additional services.
Additional costs could include:
• Returned check= $35 per incident
• the cost of the college credits (if you registered for that program)= $613 in 2021; tba for 2022
Due to Covid-19, until further notice we won't be allowing anyone outside of the program into the building during the session in order to keep exposure to a minimum. Parents will be dropping their students after an intake outside of the building and will pick them up at the end of the program in the same manner. You are welcome to call, write or send emails since students will have access to a landline and the internet. We also welcome parents to join us at the end of the session from 11am-noon for a family cookout. There is also a tour of the facility available at this link
Cell phones and tablets have become a part of everyday life but they have also become a big distraction for many of our students during lessons and in the dorms at night. For this reason, we have instituted a NO ELECTRONICS policy. If you have a cell phone with you when you arrive, we’ll keep it in a safe place until the end of the program. This includes: cell phones, Ipods, Kindles, video games, etc. Plan to bring an inexpensive camera for pictures. You also have access to a free landline (for calls in the US and Canada) and a computer to check email.
Currently, AIO is able to offer two on-site residential options. We have overnight dorm space for those presenting and identifying as female and dorm space for those presenting and identifying as male. We also have two shared bathrooms and shower facilities that accommodate students who present as either male or female. We are considering options to add non-binary residential dorm and bathroom facilities in the future.
Each year, a few students choose to attend our program as non-residential participants and live offsite. For our non-residential participants, we can provide a space and bed to rest, change, and keep a limited amount of personal belongs on-site. These students also receive and participate in the same meals, activities, and resources as our residential students. Therefore, AIO tuition is the same for residential and non-residental participants.
AIO staff uses housing and demographic information from the application, availability of space, staffing, and the needs of all program participants to determine dorm assignments.
The Executive Director reserves the right to make initial and final dorm assignments. Participants are allowed to attend AIO as non-residents and will have access to the same resources and activities as residential participants.
AIO offers a limited number of rising juniors and seniors the option of taking the first advanced session of the summer as a 4-credit oceanography course (ENV 103) through the Early College Program at the University of Maine Machias. This is a graded course, based on the UMM grading system. The cost of the credits was $613 in 2021 and is yet to be announced by UMM for 2022 (though in past years, the cost has only gone up a few dollars). This amount is over and above the AIO tuition and will be billed by UMM after you create an account for payment and transcripts. The AIO tuition for that session includes a $100 registration fee which is non refundable after May 1. You'll receive a link in the spring to create an account at UMM and will receive a bill directly from the University. Beside participation in the existing AIO program, you will be expected to attend some additional labs, lectures and be given an end of session lab practical and final exam. You have until Tuesday of the first week at noon to drop the course and monies paid for the credits will be refunded.
•Withdrawal before May 1: full refund.
•Withdrawal starting May 1 until 14 days before start of session: credit of tuition, minus deposit, given towards summer 2023.*
*Refunds will only be given after May 1, 2022 if the program is forced to close for reasons outside of AIO’s control.
•Withdrawal within 14 days of start of program: no refunds or credits.
•Full tuition must be received prior to beginning of the scheduled session or student will not be allowed to attend.
•The cost of the credits from UMM is refundable until Tuesday of the first week at noon if the student no longer wishes to take the program for credit. After that time, the cost is non-refundable.
Participants are expected to report to all scheduled activities on time, to abide by all rules of conduct explained upon arrival at AIO, and to behave in a manner to bring credit upon AIO and themselves. This conduct includes but is not limited to:
--- treating staff and fellow students with proper respect
--- using appropriate language
--- refraining from improper relationships with other students or staff
--- not possessing tobacco, alcohol or any illegal substances
--- never leaving the property without a staff member
--- respecting the property of AIO and other students (you must replace property willfully destroyed)
--- respecting the local community members
Infractions of the above guidelines could result in immediate dismissal without refund.