Ocean Institute Tidepool Junior Naturalist Program
Grades Pre-K - 6th

Science Field Trip 1 hour

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 good tide pooling rules.

This program does not go to the tide pools. The group will receive a tide pool brochure to take home for future self-guided tide pool excursions.


Program Description

The inter-tidal area is a very harsh habitat, a rough place to live and with increasing environmental pressures from the ocean and the land it is important that tide pool explorers are gentle and know the Tide Pool Exploration Rules.

  • Students study animals in the discovery pool and discover how they move, why they attach to rocks, what they eat and why disturbing them could injure them or worse!
  • The Ocean Institute’s surge tank is a great place to demonstrate the physical problems that these animals face from crashing waves, the hot sun, people and trash.
  • Additional stations will depend on the ages of the students.


Introduction: Review gentle exploration rules.

Discovery pool: Students will observe animals in the tank to explore how they move, attach to rocks and eat. How do they protect themselves from being washed away by waves? Students will touch animals following gentle touching rules.

Habitat tanks: Students observe animals in the different habitats. Could all these animals survive in the tide pools? – Why, why not? Students compare and contrast all of the habitats. How are these habitats different from the tide pool habitat? The bubble tanks allow students to observe from inside the tank.

Surge tank: The surge tank gives students the opportunity to observe and discuss the physical factors that affect the animals that live there. (Physical factors include; Waves, tides, sun, water quality changes)

Human impact: How do people affect the tide pools? A “tide pool” hopscotch game is fun and demonstrates human impact and a distinct strategy for a human observer to explore and avoid damaging the fragile habitat.