Field Trip Checklist

Questions? At any point in this process if you need assistance, contact our Education Scheduling team at or (858) 534-7336. 

Before Your Visit

Getting Started

  • Create or Login to your school or group’s affiliate account
  • Make a reservation for your desired program using our online system
    • Check your email for confirmation. Thoroughly review all attachments including program itinerary and important field trip policies. Some policies may change each year, so be sure to read all the information even if you have visited before
    • Share the information with all other participating teachers, as only the teacher who books will receive the confirmation email
  • Begin recruiting chaperones (being mindful of the chaperone policy), and organizing transportation. Plan to arrive no later than 15 minutes before your Discovery Lab or Self-Guided Visit entry time.

Reserve your free teacher pre-visit to begin planning your learning experience by calling 858-534-7336


Three Weeks Before Your Trip

  • Your deadline to book your trip or cancel without a fee
  • Review and distribute the transportation information to bus drivers and/or parent drivers. Create a drop off and pick up plan with bus drivers, as buses are not permitted to park in the Birch Aquarium parking lot.
  • Interested in buying boxed lunches? Contact The French Gourmet to arrange lunches for pick up at Splash! Café.


Two Weeks Before Your Trip

  • Look for an email from Education staff with final reminders and, if you are doing a Discovery Lab, a form to gather information about your group. Share all information with the other participating teachers.
  • Confirm your chaperones
    • Email education staff to add extra chaperones to your reservation, if needed. Extra chaperones may also purchase their own general admission tickets individually in advance. Walk-up sales for extra chaperones cannot be guaranteed
  • Determine one method of payment for the whole group. We cannot accommodate multiple payments. Cash is not accepted
    • Invoice: The easiest way to pay- no transaction required day of! An invoice issued by UC San Diego Central Accounts Receivable Office will be emailed 5-7 days after your program date. Checks are due 30 days after the last program date to the address listed on the invoice. Do not mail checks to Birch Aquarium
    • Check: One check can be written and accepted day-of. We recommend not writing the check in advance as changes in student or chaperone numbers could change your total
    • Credit card: One credit card payment can be accepted onsite day-of


One Week Before Your Trip

  • Print and complete the Behavior Contract (one per school per day). Bring this with you on the field trip
  • Print Aquarium Activity Sheets for each of your students and Teacher Guides for you and your chaperones. Bring your own clipboards and writing instruments!
  • Prepare your students
    • Booked a Discovery Lab? Some of our programs have pre-trip activities to compliment their learning
    • Review the provided Field Trip Guidelines with your students 
  • Prepare your chaperones
    • Assign a chaperone to each small group
    • Review the field trip behavior guidelines will all chaperones


Field Trip Day

  • Check In
    • Buses should drop off in the traffic circle by the whale fountain. Parent drivers should park in the parking lot. 
    • Gather your group by the Whale Fountain while the lead teacher checks in with Education staff at our NEW School and Youth Group Entrance, located to the left of the main entrance
      • *During the summer, groups may need to enter through the main entrance
    • Be prepared with the total number of students and adults for the entire reservation. Let our staff know if you have any school nurses or aides with you. School nurses and aides are always free and will not be counted towards your total number of chaperones
    • Education staff will:
      • Collect your signed Behavior Contract
      • Calculate total cost based on student and adult numbers
      • Provide you with a check-in receipt OR collect payment as one check or credit card
      • Distribute teacher and chaperone badges and small aquarium maps to the lead teacher
    • Store small brown bag lunches/lunch boxes in our provided lunch cubbies located in the lunch area to keep birds out. Consolidate lunches to as few bins as possible to leave space for other groups. Avoid storing backpacks, water bottles, or other large items in the cubbies. Coolers or bins with secure lids can be kept next to the cubbies
  • Visiting the Aquarium
    • Enter the aquarium through the School and Youth Group Entrance. Chaperone and teacher badges serve as tickets for the students and adults, allowing for reentry throughout the day from the main entrance
    • If you booked a Discovery Lab and your start time is within 15 minutes of your arrival, an educator will meet you at the Education entrance and escort you into the classroom. Groups exploring the aquarium before arrival should meet their educator at the Discovery Lab check-in sign 5 minutes before their program
    • All chaperones are expected to enforce the student behavior expectations throughout the visit
    • If a student gets lost, ask anyone wearing a Birch Aquarium name tag for assistance or go to the Guest Services office
    • Students must be accompanied by a responsible chaperone at all times in the gift shop in groups no larger than 10 students per chaperone. Groups may be asked to enter one at a time to moderate capacity
  • Lunch
    • Location
      • Eat at the designated school picnic tables or amphitheater-style seats by the Whale Fountain. Please consolidate your group to take up as few tables as possible to leave space for other groups and avoid eating at the Splash Café tables or inside the aquarium. 
        • *During the summer, school picnic tables may not be available 
    • Keep it clean
      • After lunch, inspire your group to take care of our environment by cleaning up. Use the provided trash and recycling bins to discard any waste. Empty the lunch cubbies of all items and trash when your group is finished. To report large spills or full trash cans, notify anyone with a Birch Aquarium name tag.