Book An Aquarium Field Trip

Remember: We will only accept reservations from school and organization officials. If you are a parent or an unofficial coordinator, please have an official representative reach out to book your appointment.

Our 2022-2023 field trip bookings are open, and our morning spots are filling up fast! Check out our different program options (including Key to the Sea), program availability, and book a field trip below to reserve a spot today.

Heal the Bay Aquarium offers one-of-a-kind field trips, and they can be booked online easily.

Aquarium Science Field Trips

Each 2-hour, in-person field trip experience involves touch tank exploration in our gallery, a brief lesson based on your chosen topic, and an outdoor beach exploration or beach clean-up (with waivers signed). Lessons and activities support Next Generation Science Standards, Ocean and Environmental Literacy Principles, and a student-centered approach to science instruction.

When: Monday – Friday, 9:30-11:30am & 12-2pm

Virtual Field Trips

In order to accommodate schools that can’t travel, or those distance learning, Heal the Bay will continue to offer our Virtual Field Trip experience, which covers all the same topics as our In-Person programming and last for 1 hour.

When: Monday – Friday, 12pm & 1pm

Teachers, please view our available dates and times, book a field trip reservation, and cancel/reschedule your trip up to 3 weeks in advance of your booked date. If you cannot find a date or time that works, or you have a larger group that needs to be accommodated with multiple reservations, please let us know. You can also now pay online by credit card, or mail a check (made out to Heal the Bay).

If your school is Title 1, Heal the Bay also offers grant funded scholarships, which cover the cost of your field trip as well as a transportation stipend of $400 if needed. Grant funding is limited, so funding will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis to trips of at least 40 students. If interested, be sure to select “Yes” when prompted as you book your trip, then we will send you a confirmation email as scholarships are allocated. You are responsible for booking your own transportation.

Heal the Bay's education team hosts a virtual event

As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, Heal the Bay is prioritizing the health and safety of our patrons and staff. In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are asking all students, teachers, and chaperones to wear a mask while in the aquarium. While outside on the beach, mask wearing is at your own discretion. Our newest COVID-19 protocol is to follow the mandates for youth settings: 

  • All guests over the age of 2 are required to wear a face mask covering both mouth and nose while inside the Aquarium.
  • Guests will maintain a 6ft distance from others when able and feasible. 
  • Guests will not attend if they are sick with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms. 
  • No food or drink is allowed.   
  • Our staff will wear masks at all times.   
  • Hand sanitizer is available at our exit, and we have restrooms on site for guest convenience and use.   

Field Trip Components:

  1. Tank Exploration: interact with local species including those at the touch tanks
  2. Engaging lesson: supports Next Generation Science Standards
  3. Beach Exploration (in-person only): The beach exploration portion of our field trips is a unique offering which allows students to learn while directly interacting and connecting with nature. This section of our field trip may vary depending on your chosen topic and directly coincides with that topic. Some substitutions can be made with specific requests. This could look like:
    • Scientific Observation: Students are taken onto the Santa Monica beach, where they dig in the sand, identify marine life, and learn how to view nature with a scientist’s perspective.
    • Pico/Kenter Walk & Talk: Students are taken to the Pico/Kenter outfall, about a 10 minute walk away, to discuss positive and negative human impacts on our local waterways and the ocean through the lens of both natural and urban watersheds. Along the way, students participate in a Walk & Talk, during which they share ideas with their peers about the most prominent impacts humans have had on our oceans, as well as possible solutions. 
    • Data Collection: Students are taken onto the Santa Monica Pier where they experience what it’s like to gather scientific data using professional equipment such as plankton tows, Van Dorn bottles, and anemometers. They will also discuss the purpose of gathering data and what makes data “relevant”. *6th grade + only* 
    • Beach Cleanup: Students discuss the various forms of pollution in our oceans and the impact they on nature as well as human society. They are then provided materials and move in teams to participate in a beach cleanup. They are also encouraged to fill out data cards which track each form of trash found to help Heal the Bay, and many other organizations, quantify data on pollution.
      • Note: All beach explorations end in a Mindful Moment, where students are led in group meditation meant to bring them to a more present mindset, so that they can fully experience the nature all around them.
  4. Reflection: helps to internalize science concepts discussed during the field trip

Topics Include:

Habitats: Discover the natural diversity of local marine ecosystems! Together, we will explore four unique ecosystems that exist off the coast of Southern California, while highlighting the adaptations some creatures have developed in order to live there. We also take a look into how humans are connected to the natural spaces around them.

*Includes Scientific Observation (see Beach Exploration)* 

Plants vs Algae:  What’s the difference between plants on land and algae at sea? Join us as we learn how to make scientific observations in order to accurately compare and contrast these organisms. We will also discuss the chemical process of photosynthesis and the major components necessary to carry it out.

*Includes Scientific Observation (see Beach Exploration)* 

Food Webs:  What did you have for breakfast this morning? The answer is probably much different than that of your favorite ocean animal! Join us as we learn about the cycling of matter and energy throughout an ecosystem.

*Includes Scientific Observation (see Beach Exploration)* 

Human Impacts:  Humans are as much a part of nature as nature is a part of them. In this lesson, students discover major impacts humans have had on natural spaces. We will also discuss potential solutions to environmental problems such as pollution, and the steps humans are taking to make these solutions a reality.

*Includes Pico/CaKenter Walk & Talk (see Beach Exploration)* ; *Beach Cleanup optional (see Beach Exploration)* 

Careers in Science:   Have you ever wondered how to turn your passion for science into a career opportunity? Join Heal the Bay educators and staff as we challenge the idea of a “scientist” while illuminating various career paths in STEM.

*Includes Data Collection (see Beach Exploration)* 

Coastal Cleanup Education:  How is the trash on your street making it all the way to the ocean? Together, we discuss how watersheds connect your homes with several different ecosystems, including the ocean. Beach exploration component is a beach clean-up (with waivers signed). 

*Includes Pico/Kenter Walk & Talk (see Beach Exploration)* ; *Beach Cleanup optional (see Beach Exploration)* 

Key to the Sea

Looking for an even deeper dive into environmental education? Consider joining our Key to the Sea program.

In partnership with Cabrillo Teaching Aquarium, USC Sea Grant, and Roundhouse Aquarium Teaching Center, Heal the Bay is proud to provide our Key to the Sea program! This interactive environmental education program for elementary school classes (K-5) covers a wide range of topics, including our local watersheds, pollution prevention, and marine conservation.

The 2-hour Key to the Sea field trip program takes place almost entirely outside on the beach, providing the perfect setting for students to explore the sandy beach ecosystem with tools like sifters and binoculars. Students also get to meet the aquarium animals up close with touch tank exploration.

Participation in this program requires teachers to attend two FREE professional development workshops over two years, teaching them background knowledge and collaborating on how to use provided classroom activities and curriculum through the lens of environmental stewardship and preservation. Interested in watershed and environmental stewardship curriculum?


How to Book: 

  1. Select “Virtual Field Trip”, “Aquarium Field Trip”, or “Key to the Sea Field Trip”. 
  2. Select a month, date, and time slot 
    • Only emboldened dates are available for booking. 
    • Time slots are 9:30AM-11:30AM and 12PM-2PM. If you select a date and either slot is unavailable, then it has already been booked. 
  3. Completely fill out the intake form. 
    • Be sure to include personal and school contact information 
    • Include the number of students coming and if there are any special accommodations required for your class
      • Please fill out the most accurate information when you book, however, if you have updates later in the school year, please use the “Edit Forms” button at the end of your confirmation email. 
    • If you’re a Title 1 school and would like to apply for grant funding, select “yes” when prompted. 
      • If you are a non-profit, please note, that you only qualify for grant funding if you serve the same community of students as Title 1 schools, particularly 40% or more of the student body comes from underserved communities. We usually base this off of low-socioeconomic status, but can include at-risk students, students with English as a second language, or students with differing abilities. 
    • If you select “yes”, you will receive an email from our Education Department to confirm details 
  4. Payment can be made online using the “Pay Now” button at the bottom of the intake form 
    • You may select the “Pay Later” button as well, but all payments must be paid in full before you arrive on the day of your field trip 
  5. Rescheduling or canceling your trip must be done at least two weeks before your field trip date to avoid any fees or loss of stipend.   
    • Select “Change/Cancel Appointment” button at the bottom of your confirmation email to reschedule or cancel your appointment 

Questions? Please contact Robert Ramos with any questions or concerns at With advance notice, many of our programs can be customized for your class.