Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? 

Below are many of the frequently asked questions we hear from teachers. If you don't find your answer, please don't hesitate to email us, or call 858-534-7336. 

General   Cancel/Change   Registration   Payment   Financial Aid   Confirmation  


Chaperone Policy

What is the chaperone ratio?

Upon booking a field trip at the aquarium, we provide a given amount of chaperones for free. The ratio is dependent on the number of paid students coming on the day of your visit and there are separate ratios based on the age of the students. 

  • Ages 2-TK groups are given a 1:2 ratio. This means for every 2 paid students you bring into the aquarium, you receive 1 chaperone for free.
  • Grades K-12 receive a 1:5 ratio. This means for every 5 paid students you bring into the aquarium, you receive 1 chaperone for free.
  • Special needs groups receive a 1:1 ratio. This means that for every paid student, one chaperone gets in free.
  • Additional chaperones are $16 (keep in mind that this price cannot be discounted upon receiving financial aid. Financial aid only applies to student prices). This admission is available for purchase in our Visitor Services Office.

All teachers, staff, and parents with your group are categorized as chaperones. Chaperones are required for the purpose of supervising students. Chaperones within the recommended ratios will be given free admission. 

Can I bring additional chaperones?

Due to current reduced capacity, groups are limited to the allotted number of chaperone tickets. If additional adults are planning to come, they may purchase an Extra Chaperone ticket for $16.00. Tickets are subject to availability and are not guaranteed, so we recommend purchasing additional tickets in advance.

When is the best time to visit?

Any time is a great time to visit! Explore the aquarium during a quieter time in the fall. 


Change or Cancellation of Programs

How do I change a scheduled program?

Please email birchaquariumprogram@ucsd.edu or call 858-534-7336 at least 4 weeks in advance of your program date. If you send an email or leave a voicemail, keep in mind that your program will not officially be changed until you talk to someone in the office.

Programs changed within 4 weeks of the program date will be charged 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.

How do I cancel a reservation?

Please email birchaquariumprogram@ucsd.edu or call 858-534-7336 at least 4 weeks in advance of your program date. If you send an email or leave a voicemail, keep in mind that your program will not officially be changed until you talk to 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 trip. Anything cancelled less than 4 weeks before your visit/program 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.


Registration

How do I register?

Please stay tuned as we make improvements to our current booking system! Questions? Call 858-534-7336, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily. 

What if I don’t know my final number of students?

We recommend booking your program for the maximum number of students that might attend (per our policies). Changes to the number of students on your order must be made at least 1 day prior to your field trip date. Due to our capacity limitations, increases to the number of students are not guaranteed. No refunds are provided on the day of your visit for any decreases in the number of students attending. You will be responsible for the number of students on your order.

What if I want to do a lab, but I do not have enough students?

Our labs here at the aquarium do have a minimum amount of students that are required in order to book. These minimums are listed in the class descriptions. You are still more than welcome to do a lab; you would just have to pay for the minimum amount of students.

What if I have too many students for a lab?

We do have a maximum number of students that are allowed per discovery lab. We ask that you please be respectful of those allotted numbers. Once we start going over maximum class sizes, the labs become less interactive and engaging for students. We are more than willing to try to accommodate your class sizes with multiple labs.


Payment

How do I pay?

There are several payment options: cash (onsite programs only), credit card, check, or purchase order. Keep in mind that you do not need to pay at the time of your booking. Simply choose the payment pending (credit card, check, PO) option to secure your reservation and let us know how you plan to pay.  For onsite programs you can pay with cash or a credit card when you check in at Visitor Services. Do you want to pay beforehand? That is great too! We accept credit card payments over the phone (858-534-7336).

When is payment due?

For onsite programs and visits, payment is due on the day of your visit when you check in. Credit card payments for offsite or virtual programs are due 3 business days prior to your program date. Check payments (including orders for which a purchase order is submitted) are due 30 days after the last program on your order is completed. 

How do I pay by check?

If you are paying with a check, you will be emailed an invoice after your program or field trip is completed. Billing is done through UC San Diego Central Accounts Receivable office. Please DO NOT send checks to Birch Aquarium. Refer to the payment instructions on your invoice. Please make all checks out to The Regents of the University of California, and include your invoice number on the check.

Do you accept purchase orders?

Yes, we accept purchase orders although they are not required. You can fax your purchase order to 858-534-6692 or email it to birchaquariumprograms@ucsd.edu. If a purchase order is received, you will be sent an invoice after your program date and must pay with a check. The PO number will be included on the invoice. 

What address do I put down on the billing page?

If your school is paying for your program, use the same address. If it is the school district or another organization, provide that information, including a contact person for billing. 


Financial Aid

How do I get financial aid?

Schools with the ability to show need can apply for financial aid through our website. Don’t forget to mention if you are a Title 1 school. Once you have been approved for financial aid, the only way to book your program is to call and reserve over the phone. The prices will not be adjusted if you book online.


Program Confirmation

How will I know my program has booked?

Once you have completed the registration process, you should receive an email. This email ensures that your program is booked. If you did not receive an email, it could be because of a few different reasons:

  • The email went to your spam folder (sometimes they like to do that, so check there first before we continue to other possibilities).
  • The email address was entered incorrectly.
  • The registration process was not fully completed. If you have checked your spam folder and you do not have an email from birchaquariumprograms@ucsd.edu, then please call 858-534-7336

How do I receive a full refund?

In order to receive a full refund, you must cancel your order at least 4 weeks prior to the date of your trip. Anything cancelled less than 4 weeks before your visit/program will have a fee of $50 per program. If you need to change your field trip date within 4 weeks of your reservation, then a fee will be charged. Please call 858-534-7336 if you have questions. 

Can I book a class not in my grade range?

Our discovery labs are specifically designed to follow the standards of each grade level. Typically, we ask that you do labs that are within your class’s grade range, but some are flexible.