Book an Aquarium Express Outreach

Aquarium Express Outreach

September 2017-February 2018 Registration: Now Available

The Aquarium Express van can travel to your school, bringing with it the wonders of the ocean, Earth, and atmosphere. Students will experience a variety of hands-on programs, all in the comfort of their own classrooms. Available weekdays, year-round, between the hours of 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Classes by Grade

Ages 3-5   Grades K-2   Grades 3-5   Grades 6-8   Grades 9-12

All Birch Aquarium classes are Next Generation Science Standard aligned, those marked with an asterisk indicate that the class has been updated with the new standards in mind. 

School Programs Brochure

Our School Programs Brochure provides information about classes at the aquarium, classes at the beach, aquarium express outreaches, and features a poster for your classroom.

Download School Programs Brochure


Frequently Asked Questions

Seasonal Pricing

September – February: $205/two half-hour programs, Grades K–12: $205/program*
March – June: Ages 3–5: $235/two half-hour programs, Grades K–12: $235/program*
*Book more than one program per day at the same school and receive a discount.

Teacher & Room Policy

Our programs involve the transportation of many materials and sometimes include live animals. To reduce set up time and stress on the animals, one consistent space/classroom is required for all sessions. Instructors cannot go classroom to classroom.

At least one supervisory teacher must be present during the entire outreach program. Parent volunteers are encouraged to help.

How to Register

Reservations can be made online, by phone at 858-534-7336, or by email.
Reservations are required four weeks in advance and are on a first-come, first-served basis. We recommend that you register as soon as possible to ensure a visit on the date of your choice.


Ages 3-5 

Student min/max: 10 students minimum, 16 students maximum
Program Duration: Two 30-minute lessons

Introduce pre-Kindergarten students to ocean habitats and organisms. Through guided explorations, students observe how animals feel, move, and behave while building investigation skills. 

Sea Stories (Ages 3-4)

A children’s story comes alive with puppets and interactive play, with a visit from live hermit crabs and other shelled ocean animals.
Science Concepts: 
Properties and Characteristics of Living Things, Observation and Investigation

Meet and Greet the Sea (Ages 4-5)

Learn how different sea creatures move and survive in the tide pools through puppet demonstrations, role-play and live animal interactions.
Science Concepts: 
Properties and Characteristics of Living Things, Observation and Investigation

Note: Accepting bookings for only the September 2017-February 2018 period.

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Grades K-2

Student min/max: 20 students minimum, 25 students maximum
Program Duration: 60-minute lesson

Explore the wondrous ocean habitats of the Kelp Forest, Sandy Shores and Tide Pools. Students in the early elementary grades put their observation skills to use to understand patterns of how different animals survive in these unique habitats. 

Colossal Kelp (Grades K-1) 

Dive into the wonderful world of kelp as students learn about the kelp bed habitat and meet the amazing critters that call this underwater forest habitat home. 
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: LS1.C: Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms, ESS3.A: Natural Resources
CCC: Structure and Function, Patterns, Systems 
SEP: Argument from Evidence, Constructing Explanations

Fascinating Fish (Grade 1) 

What makes a fish a fish? Through dress-up and exploration of real fish, students will investigate the unique characteristics of fishes. 
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: LS1.A: Structure and Function
CCC: Patterns, Systems
SEP: Constructing Explanations

Sandy Shores (Grade 2*)

How does water affect the sandy shore habitat? Students explore what sand is made of, how it is created, and the animals that live in the sand.
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans, ESS2.A: Earth Materials
CCC: Cause and Effect, Stability and Change 
SEP: Argument from Evidence, Constructing Explanations

Tide Pool Treasures (Grades K*, 1*)

Students explore the world of tide pools and learn how tide pool creatures find food, protect themselves, and move about in these dynamic habitats.
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms, ESS3.A: Natural Resources 
CCC: Structure and Function, Patterns, Systems 
SEP: Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Argument from Evidence 

Note: Accepting bookings for only the September 2017-February 2018 period.

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Grades 3-5

Student min/max: 20 students minimum, 36 students maximum
Program Duration: 60-minute lesson

Let your students get their hands on an understanding of structure and function with our Dissection Discovery Labs, or learn how we are connected to and impact the creatures of the ocean.

Creatures of the Kelp (Grades 3-5)

Discover the largest and fastest growing algae and learn about its importance to marine organisms and humans through explorations with live animals, food webs, and the types of algae found in our foods.
NGSS Alignment:
DCI: (Gr. 3) LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms, (Gr. 4) LS1.A: Structure and Function, (Gr. 5) LS1.C: Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
CCC: Systems and System Models
SEP: Developing Models, Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Fish Dissection (Grades 4*, 5*)

Examine fish inside and out! Through external examination and internal dissection of Pacific mackerel, students will discover the structures that help a fish to swim, eat, and protect itself in the open ocean habitat. 
NGSS Alignment:
DCI: (Gr. 4) LS1.A: Structure and Function, (Gr. 5) LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, LS2.B Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
CCC: Systems, Structure and Function 
SEP: Constructing Explanations, Argument from Evidence

Fish Diversity (Grades 3*, 4*)

Through hands-on exploration of biofacts and specimens, students will develop an understanding of the roles that adaptations in body shape, coloration, and teeth play in enabling fish to survive in diverse habitats. 
NGSS Alignment:
DCI: (Gr. 3) LS4.C: Adaptation, (Gr. 4) LS1.A: Structure and Function 
CCC: Patterns, Cause and Effect 
SEP: Constructing Explanations, Argument from Evidence 

Squid Dissection (Grades 4*, 5*)

Through scientific observation and dissection, students discover the unique structures that squid have to survive in an open ocean habitat. 
NGSS Alignment:
DCI: (Gr. 4) LS1.A: Structure and Function, (Gr. 5) LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, LS2.B: Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems 
CCC: Systems, Structure and Function 
SEP: Constructing Explanations, Argument from Evidence

Note: Accepting bookings for only the September 2017-February 2018 period.

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Grades 6-8 and 9-12

Student min/max: 20 students minimum, 36 students maximum
Program Duration: 75-minute lesson
Chaperone Ratio: One chaperone per five students (1:5)
Start Times: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12:30 p.m.

We’ve lengthened our middle- and high-school Discovery Labs to deepen the learning, so now students can explore ocean science and engineering concepts for 75 minutes. 

Earth Rocks! (Grades 7*)

And it rolls! Through the analysis of authentic data, students will explore geological processes and the resulting natural hazards.
NGSS Alignment:
DCI: ESS2.B: Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions, ESS3.B: Natural Hazards, ESS1.C: The History of the Planet Earth
CCC: Patterns, Stability and Change 
SEP: Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Argument from Evidence

Energy Engineering Challenge (Grades 6*,8*, 9-12*)

Examine the use of natural resources for energy and the impacts of human activities. Students investigate alternative energy sources and engineer solutions for the energy needs of a growing world.
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: (Gr. 6, 8) ETS1.A: Defining an Engineering Problem, ETS1.B: Developing Solutions, ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution 
CCC: Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World
SEP: Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Fish Dissection (Grades 6*, 7, 9-12)

As scientists, students use the Pacific mackerel as their model subject to explore defining fish characteristics and the crucial adaptive anatomy and physiology that allow fish to survive in a marine environment.
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: (Gr. 6, 9-12) LS1.A: Structure and Function, (Gr. 7) LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
CCC: Structure and Function, Systems, Cause and Effect 
SEP: Argument from Evidence

Squid Dissection (Grades 6*, 7, 9-12) 

Students dissect a common market squid in order to explore both external and internal anatomy, while discovering the structural and behavioral adaptations that enable squid to live in the open ocean environment.
NGSS Alignment: 
DCI: (Gr. 6, 9-12) LS1.A: Structure and Function, (Gr. 7) LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
CCC: Systems, Cause and Effect 
SEP: Argument from Evidence 

Note: Accepting bookings for only the September 2017-February 2018 period.

Book Now


Thank you to our Education Donors! With their continued support, Birch Aquarium is able to promote ocean literacy in the classroom and in the field.