Welcome to Ocean Institute Virtual Field Trips!

We are adapting some of our most popular programs into Virtual Trips for schools to enjoy. While this is something new we are very excited to be bringing our programs to students in a new and different way!

These will be LIVE virtual field trips. Meaning an instructor will be in-front of a camera that is LIVE streaming over ZOOM to a classroom of students

Instructors will be going through activities and demonstrations, while also engaging and asking questions to the students. 

Science Virtual Field Trips:

  • Ecosystems: K - 4th
  • Smiley the Shark: K-4th
  • Marine Mammals: K-4th
  • Living Systems: 4th - 8th
  • Watershed: 4th - 8th
  • Water Quality & Conservation: 8th - 12th
  • Renewable Energy: 8th - 12th

Maritime Virtual Field Trips

  • Before the Mast: 4th & 5th
  • California Gold Rush: 4th
  • Time Capsule - Cultures of California History: 4th
  • Revolutionary Voyage: 5th


  • Set up: 30 minutes
  • LIVE: 1 hour
  • Clean up: 30 minutes

Below you will find the challenge sheets for each program and a recording, if we have one. Please prepare before hand by reviewing them. We will also have them printed and available during the program.

If you have any questions please reach out to Kristin or Riley

  • kmcgowan@oceaninstitute.org
  • rrussell@oceaninstitute.org

Explore the different cultures of California history.  When learning about a culture we will focus on 5 different parts: food, shelter, beliefs, materials and language. In this program we are going to learn about the local native american tribe, the Acjachemen,  and the Spanish cultures.  To learn about the acjachemen we will build a kiicha and create a sand painting. For the Spanish Culture we will make our own adobe bricks and grind corn as they did on the Mission.    

Go back in time and experience the life of a sailors in the 1800s. Based off Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s book Two Years Before the Mast, learn about the hardships of the life of a sailor and the hide trade in alta California. Activities include: hide trade, barrels, capstan, sea shanties and a short "dog watch" with the students. 

 Step back in time and fight the British during the American Revolution. Program starts off in a colonial town hall meeting in 1776 where the people of Boston answer the 2nd Continental Congresses call to become privateers.  Learn about life in the American Revolution as a privateer.  Activities include: shipboard directions, rigging (intro to mechanical advantage), Capstan, gunnery, and navigation.  

Students will explore the various habitat tanks and the animals that live in them. We will match various animals to the habitats they live in and how they are adapted to live there. Next, we will discuss what an exoskeleton is and why various sea animals have one. After, students will help us match, count and graph sea shells based on size and shape to see what is most popular.

In this program students will be introduced to the importance of food chains in the ocean. When different elements are removed, students will see the food chain shift and eventually collapse. Students will have the opportunity to observe animals from the Discovery Pool as well as our Horn Shark Touch Tank.  Students will compare the animals to the animals in the book. Theemphasis at this station will be how the animals feel and how those textures help them survive and protect themselves. Next, students will examine the jaws of bony fish and sharks, along with the beak of an octopus, mouth of a sea star, and mouth of a sea urchin to compare the mouths in the story to real-life mouths. 

What is a Mammal, what are the characteristics? Students will observe artifacts from different marine animals such as birds, sea otters, and our very own Grey Whale Skeleton. After, we will explore the different feeding strategies between our toothed whales and baleen whales. Lastly, students will listen to different sounds of the sea and identify what is making the sound; is it a boat, a lobster, a dolphin or a whale?

What is a System? Join us to learn about the various living systems in the ocean. We will start by learning about the Jelly life cycle. Here at the Ocean Institute we grow our own moon jellies from larval to adults. We will go through the different life stages and the importance of each one. Next, students will observe the anatomy of a Pacific Mackerel during a dissection and discuss the different systems that make up the internal anatomy. Lastly, with our knowledge about moon jellies and living systems we will build a food chain from top to bottom and discuss the importance of the different trophic levels. 

During this program students will see how water travels above ground and below ground through different sediments while talking about permeability and porosity. After, we will test the water in Dana Point Harbor and discuss what can change water chemistry and if your harbor is healthy. Lastly, we will build an aquifer model using different sediments like clay, rocks, and sand. Our challenge is to see how much ground water it can hold.

What is renewable energy, how can we use it, and is it better than non-renewable energy sources? Learn about ocean acidification and why renewable energy is becoming a more popular topic worldwide. Next we will test Bernoulli’s principle and create a turbine that will generate power by lifting washers or even putting off an electrical current that can be measured. Lastly, students will help build a solar car with limited supplies. Our challenge is to engineer a car that will harness energy from the sun to move. We will test different models to see which one works best.

Students will learn the importance of water quality and how to conserve it. We will talk about Eutrophication, what causes it, and how it can be prevented in bodies of water. Next students will help us build a water filter for bioremediation on an area that has been affected by poor water quality. We will discuss naturally occurring water filters and how we can preserve or restore them along bodies of water. Lastly we will engineer a green rooftop and explore what green rooftops are and why they are becoming more popular in urbanized areas where run off is a problem.