Browse All Field Trips

Overview

Browse All Field Trips

Outdoor Education Field Trip 5 hours

A Day in the Chaparral: Leadership Institute (NEW)
Grades 4-12

Spend a day at Lazy W Ranch exploring Southern California’s wilderness while building a strong learning community. This program inspires an interest in science and a passion for the natural world through team building challenges and guided nature observation. After hiking our Chaparral trail and successfully completing leadership activities, students will have a strong foundation upon which to build positive relationships and will have developed a much deeper appreciation of the natural world.

Science Field Trip 1 hour

“A House for Hermit Crab” Lab
Grades K-1

Students will learn the difference between fact and fiction as they use lab equipment and our aquariums to compare and contrast live organisms with literary creatures from the book A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.

Science Field Trip 4 hours

Advanced Floating Lab
Grades 9-college 

Student oceanographers apply sampling and research protocols for water chemistry and biological monitoring. This course is flexible and can be modified to meet individual teacher requests. For advanced students, an optional research component can be added as students participate in a chlorophyll productivity analysis. Equipment available includes an otter trawl net, plankton net, benthic grab sampler, water capture bottles, secchi disk, forelule scales, and a weather navigation station.

Science Field Trip 17 hours

Advanced Life in the Abyss Overnight
Grades 7-8

This overnight adventure combines our Advanced Living Systems Lab/Cruise with an in-depth study of the unique ecosystem of the abyss. Students examine how animals have adapted to the extreme conditions of the deep through a series of inquiry-based activities. They will also dissect a cow eye, study the physics of light through a bioluminescence experiment, and investigate the food chain of a hydrothermal vent community.

Science Field Trip 2-4 hours

Advanced Living Systems Lab/Cruise
Grades 7-8

This is an advanced version of our Living Systems program. The lab includes a fish dissection, water chemistry, invertebrate classification, and Jelly biology. Aboard the R/V Sea Explorer, students examine benthic and pelagic habitats by deploying oceanographic sampling equipment to collect a variety of marine specimens.

Lab and cruise may also be booked separately.

Maritime Field Trip 18 hours

Before the Mast Overnight
Grades 4-5

Travel back in time in this award winning program to the seafaring world of Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s Two Years Before the Mast. Students sign aboard as greenhands for a two year “voyage” from Boston to Alta California in the 1830s. While immersed in early California history and working with a variety of dynamic historical characters, students gain skills in cooperative learning, teamwork, and communication as they hoist cargo, row long-boats, raise sails, stand night watch, swab the decks, and sing chanteys.

Science Field Trip 2 hours

“Big Al” Goes to Sea
Grades 2-3

“Big Al” comes to life on the R/V Sea Explorer, on a brief trip outside of the harbor to view the local sea lions. Student scientists learn about oceanographic equipment such as a drop camera, plankton net, and a benthic sampler while investigating marine habitats.

Science Field Trip 1 hour

“Big Al” in the Lab
Grades 2-3

Meet our “Big Al” fish as he searches for friends. Interact with interesting ocean creatures while conducting investigations in underwater adaptations, camouflage, and different types of habitats that exist below the surface of the sea.

Outdoor Education Field Trip 2 days

“By the Great Horn Spoon”
Grade 4

In this exciting program, students travel from the “Eastern Seaboard” to the “Gold Fields” of California to seek their fortune. Students must band together to fulfill their dreams as they re-live the Gold Rush on this educational journey! This overnight adventure takes students on a “voyage around the Horn” sailing on our historic tallship, the Spirit of Dana Point. The students then travel to our mining camp at the Lazy W Ranch to barter for supplies and pan for gold in a mountain stream.

Outdoor Education Field Trip 6 hours

California Time Capsule Day
Grade 4

At the Lazy W Ranch, students explore California’s cultural time periods (Native American, Spanish, and Gold Rush) through hands-on, interactive activities including adobe brick making, identifying uses of native plants, and panning for gold. This program dynamically examines social, political, cultural, and economic change throughout California’s rich history. A tour of the Mission San Juan Capistrano may also be added to this program for an additional fee.

Outdoor Education Field Trip 2 days

California Time Capsule Overnight
Grade 4

Beginning at the Mission San Juan Capistrano and continuing to the Lazy W Ranch, students investigate the cultural eras of California’s history. Students step into the lives of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo people to learn about daily life, customs and cultural practices. Activities include building a Native American shelter, making tortillas and candles, and panning for gold in a mountain stream!

Maritime Field Trip 1-2 days

Catalina Island Ecology Safari
Grades 4-8

This program is an educational adventure offering participants an opportunity to explore the ecology of Catalina Island, both on land and in the surrounding waters.  Students will develop a unique perspective and gain in-depth knowledge of this popular Channel Island.

Maritime Field Trip 3-5 days

Catalina Odyssey: A Voyage of Discovery
Grades 4-adult

Embark on an exciting voyage to Catalina Island. On this dynamic sailing adventure, students are trained to work as crew of a 100-ton schooner Spirit of Dana Point. They explore Catalina and surrounding waters while they snorkel, hike, and live the life of a tallship sailor. This program is adaptable to fit curriculum needs in the fields of ecology, water quality, oceanography, biology, and history.

Outdoor Education Field Trip 2-3 days

Chaparral to Ocean Science School
Grades 4-6

At the Lazy W Ranch, students use hands-on data collection and analysis to study the relationships between living and non-living components of six unique California ecosystems (riparian, oak woodland, chaparral, intertidal, benthic, and pelagic). Evening activities include a nocturnal investigation and campfire skits and songs. Then, a trip to the Ocean Institute concludes the experience and allows students to explore food webs, water quality, life cycles, and tide pools, with an optional trip on our research vessel.

Science Field Trip 4 hours

Earth’s Changing Climate Lab/Cruise
Grades 8-12

Students conduct an in-depth study of the relationship between Earth’s dynamic geologic history and global climate change. They investigate the creation of the Isthmus of Panama and its effect on global currents and climate, look for clues in deep-sea sediment cores, and explore the effects of the burning of fossil fuels on ocean acidity and marine ecosystems. Onboard the R/V Sea Explorer, students use marine sampling equipment to retrieve a sediment core, conduct water chemistry testing, and investigate plankton productivity.

Maritime Field Trip 5 hours

Gold Digger’s Express!
Grades 4-5

Students embark on an exciting adventure reenacting the voyage of those who risked it all for the gold fields in 1849. Through the use of role-play, students explore the events of the great California Gold Rush and interact with characters who offer different historical perspectives. At the end of their voyage, students must decide their own destiny by either electing to stay aboard with the Captain or jump ship and seek potential riches in the gold fields. Activities include moving cargo, sail handling, and panning for gold.

Science Field Trip 1 hour

Good Tide Pooler Lab
Grades Pre-K - adult

A one hour lab program ideal for small groups (up to 25 participants) including homeschools, scout troops, and special education groups. The curriculum is based on the Good Tide Pooler Rules.

Maritime Field Trip 2 hours

Helm’s Alee! Extension
Grades 4-5

Expand your dockside living-history program by casting off and heading out to sea aboard the tallship Spirit of Dana Point. This non-role playing sailing adventure is the perfect extension to your dockside day or overnight experience with curriculum specifically designed to complement the shore-side programs. Activities include sail handling, helmsmanship, and a firing of the ship’s cannon.

Science Field Trip 4 hours

Human Impact on Coastal Ecosystems Lab/Cruise
Grades 9-college

This is an advanced program designed for high school and college students to investigate impacts on our local marine ecosystems. The lab includes ocean chemistry, invasive species of Dana Point harbor, and a fish necropsy. Students will use scientific tools including water quality probes, iPads, quadrats and microscopes to determine the magnitude of ecological disturbance.

Distance Learning Site visit

If a Dolphin Were a Fish
Grades 2-6

Students investigate how a dolphin might be similar to a human, but different from other marine animals. Live animals, artifacts, and interactive activities allow the students to discover which characteristics are unique to mammals.

Distance Learning

Invertebrate Investigation
Grades 4-8

Observe and learn about the amazing adaptations of different marine invertebrates. Hands-on activities with live animals and a squid dissection highlight the similarities between these animals. Engage in several explorations of the marine environment, emphasizing adaptations and abiotic/biotic relationships in ocean communities.

Maritime Field Trip 3 hours

It’s a Sailor’s Life
Grades 4-5

Take an imaginary voyage aboard a tallship in the 1830s. During this fun and educational introduction to early California history and the world of a merchant sailor, students explore a tallship, work together to hoist a cargo barrel, and learn to raise sail.

Science Field Trip 2 hours

Junior Scientific LiteraSEA
Grades 2-3

Consulting the literature before conducting an investigation is a common practice among scientists. After exploring four very “kid friendly” scientific papers, students use microscopes to learn about organism lifecycles, and dissect a squid to study adaptations and anatomy.

Science Field Trip 17 hours

Life in the Abyss Overnight
Grades 4-6

This overnight adventure combines our popular Living Systems Lab/Cruise with activities that explore the fascinating world of nocturnal and deep-sea animal adaptations. In the evening, students investigate shark adaptations, pilot our remotely operated vehicles, dissect a cow eye to look at low light adaptations, and visit the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center where our squid light attracts animals of the night.

Science Field Trip 2-4 hours

Living Systems Lab/Cruise
Grades 4-6

This classic program is one of our most popular and explores the relationship between biotic and abiotic components of the marine ecosystem. The lab includes a fish dissection, water chemistry, aquarium science, and studying the oceanic food chain. Aboard the R/V Sea Explorer, students examine benthic and pelagic habitats by deploying oceanographic sampling equipment to collect a variety of marine specimens.

Lab and cruise may also be booked separately.

Science Field Trip 2 hours

Marine Mammal Cruise
Grades 4-6

Dolphins, whales, seals, and sea lions are the focus of this exciting voyage on the open ocean! Students investigate the natural history of our local marine mammals using a benthic grab sampler, plankton net, and marine biofacts.

This program can be adapted for older students.

Science Field Trip 1 hour

Marine Mammal Lab
Grades 2-3

In this program, the book The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler will be used to explore fact and fiction about whales. Students use microscopes to look at plankton and krill as they explore the diets of marine mammals, sort mammal and non-mammal artifacts, listen to sounds of whales, and look at fascinating whale “hitchhikers.”

Maritime Field Trip 1 hour

Pilgrim Tour
Grades Pre-K - adult

This walking tour explains the mechanics of the vessel and the voyage around Cape Horn as described by Richard Henry Dana in Two Years Before the Mast. Explore the ship in detail while learning about the shipboard life of sailors of the past.

Maritime Field Trip 3.5 hours

Revenue Cutter Sailing Program
Grades 4-5

Smugglers, pirates, and French privateers threaten our country’s new freedom! Students explore the critical era after the American Revolution as they serve as members of the Revenue Cutter Service aboard the schooner Spirit of Dana Point. During the voyage, historical characters offer a variety of American Revolution perspectives while introducing students to sail handling, helmsmanship, naval strategy, and navigation.

Maritime Field Trip 18 hours

Revolutionary Voyage
Grade 5

Participating as a new “greenhand” sailor transporting much needed supplies to General George Washington’s army in 1777, students will appreciate the bravery and spirit of those who risked their lives, facing countless dangers as they pursued the American ideals of free trade. Working together, learning how to defend and maintain the ship, handle sails, navigate, provide provisions and medical care under the looming threat of British attack, students will reflect on the political, social, and economic ideas and interests that affected the colonists during the Revolutionary War.

Maritime Field Trip 5 hours

‘Round the Horn
Grades 4-5

Students recreate the challenging world of a merchant sailor in the 1830s as they embark on a dynamic voyage “around Cape Horn” to early California. Students work together to gather cattle hides, raise sails, and load cargo as they strive to fulfill their contract with the ship’s Captain.

Science Field Trip Classroom modules and a 17 hour overnight

ROV Distance Learning Program 
Grades 6-8

This module-based program introduces students to the captivating world of ocean exploration and engineering through an authentic-learning experience. Students learn scientific fundamentals and use their new knowledge to think critically through the engineering challenges of designing, building, and testing their own ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles). The experience culminates in an overnight field trip to the Ocean Institute where they are engaged with hands-on activities and experiments on deep-ocean exploration.

Distance Learning Site visit

Safari into the Intertidal Zone
Grades Pre-K - K

Learn about the adaptations necessary for animals to survive in this harsh environment. Students interact with live sea stars, urchins, hermit crabs, and other local residents of California’s tidepools in this hands-on experience!

Science Field Trip 4 hours

Sea Floor Explorer Lab/Cruise
Grades 6-8

Students study the dynamic effects of plate tectonics through the investigation of sea floor geology, sediment cores, microfossils, underwater seismology and more. Aboard the R/V Sea Explorer, students get a chance to take part in scientific sampling and exploration. Students will survey the sea floor using scientific equipment including a gravity corer, and side scan sonar.

Science Field Trip 17 hours

Sea Floor Explorer Overnight
Grades 6-8

Students become sea floor scientists and are immersed in challenging research activities that focus on coring/ micropaleontology, underwater seismology, hydrothermal vent communities, and more. They delve into deep-sea technology as they design and test their own ROV. Their experience culminates in a morning research cruise aboard the R/V Sea Explorer where students will survey the sea floor using scientific equipment including a gravity corer, and side scan sonar.

Distance Learning Site visit

Smiley the Shark
Grades 1-3

Join us on this exploration that compares the feeding strategies of local marine organisms. After reading Smiley the Shark, students examine what and how different marine animals eat. Live tidepool animals and artifacts showcase the diversity of adaptations in the marine environment.

Distance Learning Site visit

Special Needs
Grades Pre K-12

Nine different programs are designed to meet your students’ interests and ability levels, whether you want the excitement of live marine animals or the challenge of a squid or fish dissection. Through observation and interaction, students will dive into the world of hands-on science! 

Science Field Trip 2 hours

Tidepool Exploration in the Dana Point Marine Conservation Area
Grades 4-6

Students measure physical factors using scientific sampling equipment, identify adaptations of local tidepool species with the aid of an experienced naturalist, and conduct population studies of hermit crabs, turban snails, and barnacles using low-impact exploration techniques.

Distance Learning Site visit

Turtle Tracks
Grades 1-2

Using children’s literature, we present the challenges that need to be overcome for a turtle hatchling to survive. Students will learn about the efforts made around the world to maintain and improve sea turtle populations. The program includes a live freshwater turtle, a preserved sea turtle, live intertidal animals, and appropriate hands-on activities.

Science Field Trip 1 hour

Undersea ABCs Lab
Ages 4-5

Come learn the ABCs while exploring life in the ocean. Students will look, listen, and feel tidepool, kelp forest, and sandy bottom animals in our aquariums while learning their letters. Program activities include touching sea star Arms and Barnacles in the discovery pool and listening to unusual ocean sounds like Crashing waves and Dolphin squeaks. Program modeled after the book Into the A, B Sea by Deborah Lee Rose. 

Distance Learning Site visit

Visiting Mate
Grades 4-5

Put the books aside as a piece of living history walks into your classroom to engage students in guided hands-on activities. An eighteenth or nineteenth century sailor travels to your classroom to spin yarns, teach sea chanteys, scrimshaw, lines and knot tying. The Visiting Mate will also discuss shipboard life, helping history come alive for your students.

Distance Learning Site visit

Visiting Sea Camp
Grades K-6

Available June through August – Let Us Bring the Ocean to You!

Taught by our instructors at your facility. 
Experience the fascinating marine environment with the Ocean Institute’s Visiting Sea Camp Series. The Ocean Institute staff brings our hands-on science programs directly to your school or childcare center. Each program takes advantage of small class settings to maximize the level of interaction and learning. Let us foster an awareness and appreciation of the many amazing creatures found in our oceans.

Science Field Trip 4 hours

Watershed Lab/Cruise
Grades 4-5

Students explore the science of watersheds. In the lab, students learn scientific techniques as they perform a fish dissection, conduct water chemistry tests, examine global water distribution, and discover potential sources of pollution. They complement their lab research onboard the R/V Sea Explorer, where they form research teams to test the offshore nutrient levels, complete a bioassessment of the sea floor habitat, and examine the local plankton population.

Science Field Trip 17 hours

Watershed Science Overnight
Grades 4-5

In this overnight program, students embark on an in-depth exploration of the science of watersheds. Students learn scientific techniques as they perform a fish dissection, conduct water chemistry tests, work on a biological assessment, and examine global water distribution. Student research teams conduct a soil study within the Dana Point Harbor to assess current conditions. In the morning, students’ land-based examinations are complemented by research activities offshore aboard the R/V Sea Explorer.

Distance Learning Site visit

Welcome to Our Watershed
Grades 5-8

Students learn about the hydrologic cycle and what lives in a watershed. A hands-on demonstration with a model of a watershed shows the effect of human impact on our fragile environment. An interactive discussion and examination of live tidepool animals reinforce the connection between pollution and a healthy ecosystem, including what can be done to maintain the health of a watershed. The program drives home why everyone needs to understand how we all affect our local watersheds.

Distance Learning Site visit

Your Shell is Swell
Grades Pre-K - K

Explore the beauty of shells from a variety of different creatures focusing on their size, shape, and their importance to the animals who live inside. Students will read Moving Day, a story about a hermit crab looking for a new home. They will then touch and observe live animals, all of whom live in a shell, and learn about why they need shells to survive.

Science Field Trip

Adult Ocean Awareness

Open to all Senior Centers, Associations, and Residential Communities

Take a journey into the world of science with a series of programs designed for seniors. Whether at the Ocean Institute or at your facility, five unique educational and interactive programs can be selected to meet the interests for your group.