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School Programs

School Programs

School Programs

Discovery Lab
Discovery Labs take place at or near our facility and allow teachers to choose from a variety of exciting and informative marine science lessons and experiences.
Floating Lab
The Floating Lab is a scientific exploration of the ocean and is, by far, our most popular offering. Students will be amazed at the diversity of life above and below the surface of San Luis Obispo Bay.
Marine Life Monitoring
Join the Central Coast Aquarium as we take part in biological monitoring studies at various habitats along the central coast. This program's goal is to actively engage students in real-life scientific investigations and the scientific process.
Pre-K Program
This program is designed to be a fun marine science introduction for three and four-year-olds. Groups are kept small to maximize the benefit of our hands on learning environment.
Tidepools On Tour
Can't make it to the Central Coast Aquarium? We'll bring our live animals to you!
Discovery Lab

Discovery Lab

Discovery Lab programs take place at or near our facility and allow teachers to choose from a variety of fun and informative marine science lessons (see list below). Along with rotating through a few of these lessons, students will  get an in-depth tour of our aquarium which includes touching a lot of our rocky intertidal species, and touching our sleeping sharks.

Squid Dissection

By far one of the favorites — Students will learn about various types of mollusks (including squid of course) and their adaptations in the ocean. Working in pairs, the students will identify various organs and parts of the squid and learn how this fascinating animal lives, eats and moves!

Plankton: Sink or Float Competition

Students delve into the world of microscopic organisms as they view and learn about plankton and their importance to the global ecosystem. Students will construct their own plankton model based on the features of real life plankton and adaptations to achieve “neutral buoyancy.” Adaptations are incorporated into their model and students test them out to see which model works best, followed by a friendly competition.

Water Chemistry

Students become scientists and learn how to measure water density, temperature, salinity and pH. They’ll hypothesize how these factors will vary throughout the estuary and then go outside to sample. Students will  learn how important the ocean’s chemical balance is to the life below and how scientists keep watch on our ocean's health.

Rocky Intertidal

Invertebrates are the stars of this show. Students will have the opportunity to see and touch local tide pool invertebrates. They’ll learn about life on California's rocky shores and will find out how animals have adapted to living in such a stressful environment. Another favorite!

Marine Mammals

Students participating in this lesson learn what makes a mammal a mammal and what makes marine mammals so special. Students will enjoy a slideshow highlighting characteristics of local species and they will have the opportunity to view and touch various education props such as baleen, marine mammal furs, and various bones from dolphins, whales, seals and otters.

Sharks and Rays

Sharks are the number one attention getter at most aquariums. This class will separate fact from fiction and show students what makes a shark especially different from other fishes. Students will get to meet, greet and touch some of our friendly sharks and rays!
 
 
Pricing:  
1 Hour $250
1.5 Hours $300
2 Hours $350 
3 Hours $450
4 Hours $550**

If your school is interested in a Discovery Lab, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

* Pricing is per class for up to 30 students. For classes with more than 30 students, please call for pricing.
** includes 30 minute lunch break

Floating Lab

Floating Lab

The Floating Laboratory is a unique marine sampling experience on San Luis Obispo Bay that successfully transforms your students into young marine scientists. The trip starts with an introduction into the rich cultural and natural history of the area. Next, students set and pull a bottom trawl net to capture the fish and invertebrates that live in the bay. The captured animals are then sorted, identified, and counted by students and the collected data becomes part of our monitoring dataset. After collecting all of the data, we release them back to their home.

To better understand the food web in the bay and the water quality conditions that the animals experience, students use various oceanographic sampling equipment to collect plankton and measure the water chemistry.  Throughout the trip the students are able to take in the sights and sounds of marine mammals and birds in their natural environment.

The remainder of the program takes place at our aquarium facility, during which, the students will view and discuss the species of plankton caught on the boat with an emphasis on the role they play in the marine food web. The students also dissect squid and learn about the adaptations that make them a successful predator of the sea. 

 

Single Lab (one class)

4 Hour Program ($1000)
Up to 30 students

Double Lab Discount!

2 Classes Same Day ($1500)
Up to 30 students per class

If your school is interested in a Floating Lab, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Floating Labs are available September through May, Tuesday - Thursdays only. Inquire for summer Floating Lab availability.


Marine Life Monitoring

Marine Life Monitoring

Join the Central Coast Aquarium as we take part in biological monitoring studies at various habitats along the central coast. This program's goal is to actively engage students in real-life scientific investigations and the scientific process, while also collecting data that will be used to better understand the marine communities found along our coast.

There are several habitat options for this program including:

Sandy Beach - held at the beach & Central Coast Aquarium: up to 30 students, $500

Rocky Intertidal - held at Shell Beach: up to 30 students, $500

Students participating in these programs will learn the sampling methodologies used by scientists to study the habitat of interest and the species found there. The data collected during each monitoring program will be added to our databases and will be made available to the participating classes, so that they can explore the patterns in catch. Local scientists also use this data for their own research. 

Come and join us for one of our exciting marine life monitoring programs and take science to a whole new level. 

 

If your school is interested in a Marine Life Monitoring Program, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Pre-K Program

Pre-K Program

Our Pre-School programs introduce your little explorers to the exciting world of marine life! This program is created for three and four-year-olds and groups are kept small to maximize the benefit and experience of our hands on learning environment. We focus on learning through the senses, as we explore slippery sea stars, spiny sea urchins and more!! During this 1 hour program, students will have the opportunity to learn through different hands-on lessons, including marine mammals, sharks, and tidepools. 

Programs last 1hr. Cost: $200 for a class of 20 students

If your school is interested in a Pre-K program, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Tidepools On Tour

Tidepools On Tour

Tidepools on Tour is a new program offered by the Central Coast Aquarium. With our new mobile aquarium tanks, we can bring our live animals to you! We provide formal presentations and informal programs. During this hands-on lesson, participants learn about the tidepool habitat, the animals found there and how they survive in this ever-changing environment. The types of animals we typically bring are: hermit crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea anemones, gumboot chitons, keyhole limpets, sea snails, mussels, scallops, decorator crabs, and a variety of algae. All of these animals can be touched.

Typically we bring 1 or 2 lessons to accompany the Tidepool Discovery lesson. Other lessons we can provide are: Marine mammals, Sharks and Rays, Plankton, Hermit Crab Investigations, Water Chemistry, and others upon request.

Program Details

There is a minimum of 1 Hour to purchase.
We recommend 1 hour per class or 30 participants.
If location is more than 10 miles away, travel fee is $0.54/mi.

School Groups

1 Hour ($450)
2 Hours ($550)
3 Hours ($650)

Non-School Groups

1 Hour ($500)
2 Hours ($600)
3 Hours ($700)

If your school or facility is interested in a Tidepools on Tour program, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(805) 595-7280

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

50 San Juan Street, Avila Beach, CA 93424