School Programs

School Programs

Teachers! Want to teach your students about our marine environment? Cabrillo Marine Aquarium offers numerous programs and classes designed to share the wonders of our local ocean, from guided Aquarium tours, to Ocean Outreach programs that bring marine life right into your classroom, to naturalist-led whale watching programs. Our programs are LAUSD Board of Education approved and are aligned with the State of California grade-level science standards.

Download our yearly Education Poster 2023-2024 - White Shark.

The Aquatic Nursery is a working laboratory where visitors have access to active scientific research, and to the scientists-in-training who are conducting projects under the guidance of CMA staff. Exhibits describe scientific principles and processes for visitors of all ages. Look carefully, exhibits and projects change often and there is always something new to see.

Visit the interpretive exhibits in the Aquatic Nursery as topics focus on growing and caring for young animals. The laboratory is composed of open research benches displaying more than 40 marine species, which focus on four major aquaculture themes:

Growing Live Food – Clear plastic tubes filled with living cultures bubble away in the kitchen. Cultures of rotifers, copepods and newly hatched baby brine shrimp provide important live food for animal health and research projects in the Aquatic Nursery.

Farm to Table – Raising aquatic animals for human food is big business in many countries and a growing industry in the United States. Red abalone, purple sea urchins, and spot prawns are cultured in the Aquatic Nursery to show examples of sustainable aquaculture for human consumption.

Saving Endangered Species– Raising animals to help threatened and endangered species has become an important mission of zoos and aquariums worldwide. White abalone, Pacific seahorse, and giant sea bass raised in the Aquatic Nursery demonstrate the efforts necessary to help preserve these Southern California natives whose populations have become depleted.

Conservation and Research Education – Grunion, pipefish and moon jellies raised in the Aquatic Nursery are shared with aquariums, zoos and educational institutions for public exhibition. By raising marine animals in the lab, our conservation efforts can reduce the demand to collect from the wild to display for public education and research.

Research Projects – Throughout the lab, students conduct research projects under the guidance of CMA staff. Research results displayed in the Aquatic Nursery show the hard work of these future scientists. Visitors will experience science that is accessible, understandable and fun.

The Susanne Lawrenz-Miller Exhibit Hall showcases five major environments: Kelp Forests, Rocky Shores, Mudflats, Open Oceans and Sandy Beaches. Explore interpretative and live exhibits to learn about the many animals and plants that live in each habitat. From worms to whales – all are adapted to protect themselves, find food and reproduce. Programs are adaptable to grade-specific Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Exhibit Hall Tour - Onsite                         
Program Length: 90 minutes                         
Month(s) Offered: October - March                         
Days and Time offered: Tuesday - Friday, 10-11:30am                         
Grades: K-12th                         
Program Cost: FREE. CMA wants a clean LA! Your students can help us with this goal through in-class activities or service-learning projects in support of our free programs. Information will be provided upon registration.                         
Description:                         
Students receive an introductory tour of our main exhibit hall, with a stop at the touch tank and surrounding exhibits that detail the natural history of local southern California marine life.

Challenge your students to investigate science concepts along the seashore using the tools of a naturalist. During our 90-minute program, your students will be engaged in hands-on investigation of our local habitats and marine organisms outside in the Coastal Park.

Students work together to learn about the challenges facing life along the shore and our role in its conservation. During their visit, students explore and answer questions integrating physical, life, and earth sciences. Each program is designed to address grade-level standards and promote inquiry based learning.

Days offered: Friday                       
Dates offered: October 6-December 15; January 12-June 7                     
Length of program: 90 minutes                       
Times offered: 10-11:30am                       
Grades: K-12th                    
Fee: FREE. CMA wants a clean LA! Your students can help us with this goal through in-class activities or service-learning projects in support of our free programs. Information will be provided upon registration.                    

Maximum number of participants: 60 (1 adult per 5 students max)

Learn how you can be the “Key to the Sea!”                      
This outdoor beach-based program encourages students to learn about watershed stewardship, coastal ecology and how we are all connected to the ocean.                      
Teachers are required to attend a "Key to the Sea" Workshop prior to their field trip. For more information, and to sign up for a workshop, please visit: www.healthebay.org/key2sea/

Grades: 1-5                      
Month(s) Offered: October – June                      
Days: Friday (Days may vary due to availability)                      
Time: 10-11:30am                   
Where: Cabrillo Coastal Park, on the sandy beach                      
Length: 90 minutes                      
Program Fee: FREE. CMA wants a clean LA! Your students can help us with this goal through in-class activities or service-learning projects in support of our free programs. Information will be provided upon registration. 

Please call Our Reservation Team for more information (310) 548-7562.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's Ocean Outreach program is designed to enhance your students educational experience through hands-on exploration, specimen investigation and student participation. All of our topics are tailored to grade-level and designed to spark your students' curiosity for the ocean and the extraordinary life in it!

Program Length: Up to one hour; maximum of four (4) sessions with up to three (3) topics per site per day.  After-school programs:  maximum of two (2) sessions with up to two (2) topics per site per day.                                  
Month(s) Offered: Year-Round                                
Day(s) Offered: Tuesday - Friday                                 
Time(s) Offered: Between 9:30am and 2:30pm; after-school programs until 4:00pm (Pick start time option below)                                 
Maximum Participation Limit (per session): 30 students*                                 
Fee: $170 for the first session, $70 for each similar session at same site on same day. After-school programs (after 2:30pm): First session $230, second session $90

Topics offered include:                      

The Adventures of C. Weed the Snail and His Friends***,<> Pre-K (3 Years and Older)
At Home in the Sea <>  Grades K-1
The Greatest Fish Story Ever Told     Grades 1-4 
“Thar She Blows” – A Whale of a Lesson  Grades 2-6  
Treasures in the Tidepool <>     Grades 2-8   
Shark!  It’s O.K to Go into the Water    Grades 3-6  
What’s Plankton Anyway? <>     Grades 3-6   
Ten Arms and an Attitude: A Squid Dissection     Grades 3-8 
No Guts, No Glory: A Fish Dissection   Grades 3-8 
Fish Printing: Gyotaku in the Classroom  Grades 3-8


* Sessions are designed for small groups to maximize engagement and instructor to student interactions                               
***  C. Weed the Snail program is not available in March, April or May      
<> These classes feature a touch tank and live animals during the visit

For more descriptions on our available programs, please click here.

Sea Search Marine Biology Workshops provide interactive and engaging experiences that focus on a wide range of marine biology topics.

Each class includes an introduction with a presentation specifically designed for that topic, in addition to interactions with the live animals at the Aquarium. Conservation issues are incorporated in all classes. All programs are adaptable to grade-specific Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).                                

Program Length: 3 hours                                
Dates Offered: October 3 through December 15, January 9 through June 14                                
Day Offered: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday                                
Time Offered: 9am-12pm, 9:30am-12:30pm, or 10am-1pm                                
Program Cost:  $350 for up to 35 students, $10 for each additional student. Scholarships available.*                                
Maximum number of participants: 50

Topics offered include:                              

What Lives on the Sandy Beach      Grades K-12th
Life on the Rocky Shores ** Grades K-12th
Habitat Comparison Grades K-12th
Salt Marsh and Plankton Grades 3rd-12th
Ichthyology Grades 5th-12th


*Grant-funded support and scholarships are available for financial assistance.     
**Life on the Rocky Shores is only available on low tide dates; please see specific options on the Reservation Form. 

For more descriptions on our available programs, please click here.

Our programs can be made accessible to all audiences.  Persons with disabilities are welcome to participate. Reasonable accommodations will be made with prior arrangements.

With our ideal location, the beach is transformed into an outdoor classroom for children to learn about sea life! This program will give students the opportunity to learn about tidepool animals, whales, jellyfish, and grunion hatching. Students will learn about sea life through hands-on activities and colorful teaching aids.

Program Length: 90 minutes to 2 hours                              

Dates Offered:                              
     PreK - K*                              
       April 2 - April 12, 2024                              
         *This Preschool session is suitable for students ages 4 and 5 only. This program takes place on the grass.                              
                                   
     K - 5th Grade**                              
      April 16 - May 3, 2024,  May 14 - June 7, 2024                              
        **This program takes place on the sandy beach, weather permitted.

Days Offered: Tuesday - Friday                              
Time: 10am                              
Program Cost: FREE. CMA wants a clean LA! Your students can help us with this goal through in-class activities or service-learning projects in support of our free programs. Information will be provided upon registration.

Go Whale Watching!                         
Go to sea any day of the week in search of migrating Pacific gray whales, as well as humpback and fin whales, a variety of dolphin species, sea lions, pelicans and other marine life. Cabrillo Whalewatch volunteer naturalists accompany you on two-to-three-hour boat trips from various landings.       
Month(s) Offered: Daily through mid-April               
Program Cost: Varies by landing