Book an Aquarium Express Outreach

Aquarium Express Outreach: 2019-2020

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 September 30, 2019-June 5, 2020, between the hours of 8 a.m.–3 p.m.

Classes by Grade

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

All Birch Aquarium classes are Next Generation Science Standard aligned.

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.

2019-2020 School Programs Brochure


Program Cost: $250/session
Program min/max: 2 sessions, 4 sessions
Extra Mileage Fee: $2.50/extra mile

Program Minimum and Maximum

To ensure the best use of our resources, we require booking at least two (2) program sessions per outreach day. Up to four (4) program sessions may be booked per day, depending on distance and length of day. Some program titles are able to be combined to serve multiple grades per day, with up to two (2) different titles per day.

Program Travel Distance Requirements

We are unable to provide programs that involve transportation of live animals outside of a 50-mile radius. The following programs can travel outside of 50 miles:

  • Fascinating Fish
  • Fish Diversity
  • Fish or Squid Dissection
  • Energy Engineering Challenge

Extra Mileage Fee

Outreach costs include travel to school sites within a 30-mile radius of Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Schools located more than a 30-mile radius of Birch Aquarium will be charged an extra mileage fee of $2.50/mile for every additional mile of roundtrip travel.

Teacher & Room Policy

Programs involve many materials and sometimes include live animals. To reduce set up time and stress on the animals, one (1) consistent space/classroom is required for all sessions. Instructors cannot go classroom to classroom.

At least one (1) supervisory teacher must be present during the entire outreach program. Parent volunteers are encouraged to help.

Outreach Program Schedule Needs

We can work with your school's bell schedule to design a program schedule that meets our instructing needs and yours! In general, we ask for the following:

  • We ask for a minimum of 15 minutes between multiple sessions for our instructors to reset the materials and maintain live organisms.
  • A minimum of 30 minutes is needed to reset materials when switching between two (2) different program topics.
  • When booking 3-4 sessions per visit, we require a 30-minute lunch break for our instructing staff (in addition to 15 minutes for reset).

How to Register

Available weekdays September 30, 2019-June 5, 2020, between the hours of 8 a.m.–3 p.m.

Reservations can be made by an email request only. We will respond via email in a timely manner. Reservations are required four (4) 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.

In your email request, please provide the following information:

  1. School Name (Full) & District
  2. School Address
  3. Primary Contact Teacher: Name (Full), Email, Phone
  4. Number of Classes
  5. For each Class: Grade Level, Student Count, Outreach Program Topic
  6. Three (3) potential program dates to check for availability
  7. The school's Bell Schedule (start time, recess, lunch, dismissal)

How to Cancel

Email at least 4 weeks in advance of your program date to cancel your reservation. Please keep in mind that your programs will not officially be canceled until your email has been reviewed by someone in the office.

In order to receive a full refund, you must cancel your order at least 4 weeks prior to the date of your programs. Anything canceled less than 4 weeks before your programs will have a fee of $50 per program. No refunds are provided within 48 hours of your program date and you will be responsible for full payment.

Ages 2-TK 

Student min/max: 15 students minimum, 24 students maximum
Program Duration: 50 minutes 

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

Meet and Greet the Sea 

Swim, crawl, walk: there's a lot of ways to get around in the sea. Learn how different animals move through play and live animal interactions.

Science Concepts: 

  • Properties and Characteristics of Living Things
  • Observation and Investigation

Email Your Outreach Request

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

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 

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

Email Your Outreach Request

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.

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 

Creatures of the Kelp (Grades 3, 5)

Discover an underwater forest and its importance to marine organisms. How can changes in the environment affect this ecosystem?
NGSS Alignment:

  • DCI: (Gr. 3) LS2.C Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience, (Gr. 4) LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience, (Gr. 5) LS1.C: Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
  • CCC: Systems and System Models
  • SEP: Developing Models, Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Fish or Squid Dissection (Grades 4, 5)

Examine fish or squid inside and out through dissection of the animal. Grade 4 students will discover the structures that help the animal to swim, eat, and protect itself in the open ocean habitat. Grade 5 students will explore the role of the animal in the food chain based on their body structures and functions.
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

Email your Outreach Request

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)

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. 

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

As scientists, students use the mackerel or squid as their model subject. Grade 6 students will identify animal structures and their functions, as well as determine the system to which they belong. Grade 7 will explore how the adaptations of the animal help them avoid predation and compete for resources within their ecosystem. Grades 9-12 students deepen the exploration of animal structures and their functions to discuss how the interactions of their systems help the animal survive.
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: Constructing Explanations, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Email Your Outreach Request

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.