Teachers > Field Trips

Plan a Trip

Field Trip Program Options for Academic Year 2014-2015

There is plenty to do at the Academy!

Most activities require no reservations:

  • Wander through any of our exhibits
  • Engage with docents stationed throughout the museum
  • Watch a daily program, such as the coral reef dive
  • Touch ocean creatures in the Aquarium’s Discovery Tidepool
  • Assign a worksheet from our lesson plan database
  • Stop by the Naturalist Center starting at 11am
Liittschwager warthog skull

Our newest exhibit: Skulls

May 16, 2014 – November 30, 2014

Every skull tells a story.

As unique as a thumbprint, skulls act as roadmaps in the scientific quest to understand how vertebrate animals live, die, and ultimately, evolve.

In this new exhibit, explore the science of skulls—from teeth and jaws that allow animals to hunt and consume food, to eye sockets that support advanced vision to escape predators. Walk along a wallscape of sea lion skulls, watch a live colony of dermestid beetles demonstrate just why they’re known as “bone cleaners,” and discover how scientists use the Academy’s collection of skulls to uncover evolutionary clues about our natural world. Read more

Book a field trip for this summer or fall before the exhibit closes on November 30, 2014!

Reserved Programs

The following programs require advanced reservations, and are entirely optional. On the online application form, you may rank the following options for each class attending the field trip:

Option 1: Student Lab Program (Grades 2-8)
Labs are booked on a first-come, first-served basis, and sell out quickly. The early bird gets the worm!

Option 2: Planetarium Student Show (Grades K-8)
These astronomy-related shows are delivered by a live presenter, and are now offered for grades K-2, 3-5, or 6-8, respectively.

Option 3: Planetarium Public Show (Grades 3-12)
Starting spring 2015, we’ll have room for elementary school students in our newest Planetarium show produced in-house! Although these showings are designed for general audiences, your class may attend as long as you reserve seats in advance of your visit.

Reservation Option 1: Student Lab Program

instructor and students in lab

A class of students in grades 2-8 can conduct a scientific investigation with Academy instructors in our Education Lab. Focusing on scientific processes and content, lab programs involve students in collecting and interpreting evidence, making careful observations of museum specimens, defending claims, and manipulating scientific equipment.

Advance reservations are required, and a non-refundable fee of $120 applies per 90-minute session. Two sessions are delivered each morning, with start times at 9:30 am and 11:30am. Each student lab program can be delivered for one class, with a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 36 students.

You can rank the following programs on the online application, but remember that they sell out quickly. To find the exact dates when each program will be taught, read the details. By matching your preferred visit dates with those when programs are offered, you’ll have a higher chance of being booked for a lab!

lab

California Geology (Grades 2-3)

Students will carefully observe and describe unknown rock samples; sort a collection of California rocks; and learn the differences between the three major classifications of rocks: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic.

READ ME

student

All About Microscopes (Grades 3-8)

Students will learn the basic parts of a microscope, while distinguishing between a compound and stereo microscope. As they investigate insect specimens fixed to a slide and pinned like our entomological collections, students will refine their scientific drawing and observational skills.

READ ME

water and rock

California Geology (Grades 4-6)

Students will carefully observe and describe a specimen and a microscope slide of an unknown rock sample; learn the differences between the three major classifications of rocks: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic; practice map-reading skills and analytical thinking; and explore other rocks and minerals mined in California.

READ ME

plant

Plants and Carbon (Grades 5-8)

Students will learn how plants play an important role in the movement of carbon throughout our planet. Using microscopes, students will investigate stomata on the leaves of plants – pores that open and close to allow carbon dioxide to come in and oxygen to get out. Students will also examine coal specimens to understand how plants are turned into fossil fuels via the rock cycle.

READ ME

Reservation Option 2: Planetarium Student Show at 10:30am

planetarium

Planetarium shows are free, but advance reservations are required for student groups. Classes will begin entering the Planetarium dome 15 minutes prior to showtime.

The Planetarium is pleased to offer exclusive shows for students at 10:30am, tailoring content to local science standards. All other showtimes present a public show to the general visitor; passes will not be distributed to school groups for these presentations.

Please note: Students who are uncomfortable with heights may experience some anxiety in the Planetarium due to the steeply-raked seating area. We also recommend informing your class that although the audience is not moving during the show, the immersive visuals may make it seem as if they are.

Moon

Sun, Moon, and Stars (Grades K-2)

We’ve developed a special presentation for younger viewers. The show focuses on the difference between day and night, the motion of the sun and moon, and the patterns of stars in the night sky. 200 seats available in each show.

READ ME

planetarium

A Tour of Our Solar System (Grades 3-5)

We invite your students to become virtual space travelers and explore the solar system. Find out what a planet is, get a close-up view of the planets in our solar system, and examine features that they have in common, as well as those that make each planet unique. 270 seats available in each show.

READ ME

Milky Way

Our Solar System and Beyond (Grades 6-8)

Follow our spacecraft to explore the solar system and discover our place in the Milky Way. Learn how we use light to study distant objects, such as planets, stars, and galaxies,and glimpse the mind-boggling size of our incredible Universe! 270 seats available in each show.

READ ME

Reservation Option 3: Planetarium Public Show at 11:30am and 1:30pm

Limited seating is available for school groups at the 11:30 am and 1:30 pm public showings of our current production, but advance reservations are required. Note that public shows are designed for and shown to general visitors on the day of your field trip, and are not tailored for student groups. 150 seats available in each show.

Classes will begin entering the Planetarium dome 15 minutes prior to show time.

Our fall production, Dark Universe, is only available to secondary students due to the abstract nature of the astronomy content. However, because our spring production will focus on ecosystem concepts, we’ve opened the grade range to include upper elementary students!

proto-planetary disk

Dark Universe (Grades 6-12)

Runs through January 15, 2015

Explore how the Universe originated and what might become of it. On a virtual journey from our home planet to the most distant galaxies, your students will learn the evidence for the Big Bang as well as the questions that still remain—about the nature of dark matter and dark energy as well as the fate of the Universe as a whole.

READ ME

sea otter

Habitat Earth (Grades 3-12)

Opens January 16, 2015

We live in a connected world. This brand-new show produced by our in-house team of visualization experts will have you diving with sea otters, exploring the life forms hidden within soil, and migrating the oceans with whales. Stay tuned for more information—but do reserve your seats in advance! This show is available daily to classes of grades 3 and above.

Field Trip 101

Prepare you and your students for a successful field trip by watching this video. Learn about the bus drop-zone, building navigation, and important Academy guidelines.

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High-definition Quicktime Version [MOV 600MB]

Booking a Field Trip for Academic Year 2014-2015

Before You Apply

Who can apply for a field trip?
When can we visit?
How much does it cost?
My school is from out-of-state. Can we still receive discounted admission?
How many students can I bring?
How many chaperones should I bring?
Can I bring more chaperones if I’ve exceeded the limit?
How can we see a Planetarium show?

In Preparation for Your Visit

I can’t find my confirmation email! What do I do?
What kind of payment do you accept? What if our visit numbers have changed?
Should I arrange for the bus to arrive exactly at the entry time noted on my confirmation?
Do you issue refunds for cancellations?
Do you issue refunds for students or chaperones that don’t end up attending?
Some of my chaperones are Members. Can they get in free with some of the kids?
What’s the parking situation?
Help me plan – what are the recommended exhibits and activities for my grade?

On the Morning of Your Visit

What paperwork do I have to bring to the entrance?
What if we’re running late?
How can I prepare my chaperones?
What drop-in programs are available on the day of my visit?
Where can we eat lunch?
Can we take photographs?
Can we exit and re-enter the museum on the day of our visit?
What happens if we lost a student, or need first aid?
What other services do you provide that might be useful?

Before You Apply

Who can apply for a field trip?

Field trip reservations are available for formal California school groups of students in grades pre-K through 12, including preschool. Youth groups, afterschool programs, and traveling clubs may qualify for discounted rates offered for Youth Groups. Homeschoolers have their own special events two days per year – check out the last event!

When can we visit?

Generally, field trips can be scheduled on all dates with the exception of Free Days, holidays, and other peak admission days. You can even book a weekend visit! On the online application itself, you will find a calendar displaying dates with available space.

How much does it cost?

San Francisco school groups are admitted free, and other California school groups are only $6.95 per person! Most field trip programs are free, but the Student Labs do require a $120 flat fee per class.

My school is from out-of-state. Can we still receive discounted admission?

Yes! Non-California school groups receive a discount off of general admission for groups of 10 or more people. Click here to be directed to Group Tickets.

How many students can I bring?

You can include up to 5 classes of 36 students on each online application. If you need to bring a larger group, simply submit a second application for the extra classes, using the same preferred visit dates.

How many chaperones should I bring?

A minimum of 1 adult chaperone for every 8 students is required, which the exception of high school groups that require less adult supervision. A maximum of 1 adult for every 4 students will be enforced, with the exception of certain special needs classes, and of course, groups of preschoolers.

Can I bring more chaperones if I’ve exceeded the limit?

Yes, in fact, you may. However, you must pay the full admission price per extra adult. On the application, you will have the option of paying full price in advance for up to 10 extra chaperones per class, which will be helpful if there is a line at the Box Office on the day of your visit. Note that any chaperones in excess of our maximum ratio are not eligible to attend at a discounted group rate for adults.

How can we see a Planetarium show?

School groups may attend a Planetarium show only if they have a reservation, so be sure to rank this highlight on your application if interested. Astronomy-related shows are available for grades K-8 at 10:30am, and middle and high school students are invited to watch the public show at 11:30am. (Please arrive approximately 15 minutes before your scheduled time in order to be seated.) All other showtimes present a public show to the general visitor; passes will not be distributed to school groups for these presentations.

In Preparation for Your Visit

I can’t find my confirmation email! What do I do?

To receive a copy of your confirmation email, contact , or call the Teacher & Youth Education hotline at 877.227.3311.

What kind of payment do you accept? What if our visit numbers have changed?

Payment must be received prior to your visit day to be admitted to the museum upon arrival. The Academy accepts payment by credit card or mail-in check; we regret that we cannot accept purchase orders. Additional tickets may be purchased on the date of your visit, but will be done so at the general admission rate. Therefore, we encourage you to make any headcount changes prior to your visit by contacting or 877.227.3311.

Should I arrange for the bus to arrive exactly at the entry time noted on my confirmation?

To facilitate bus drop-off and minimize lines out front, we’ve created tiered entry times at 9:30am, 10:00am, and 10:30am, respectively. You will be slotted into one of these times based on availability and your expected time of arrival, as noted on the online application. Please aim to arrive at (or even slightly before!) your entry time, but rest assured that you will be allowed in regardless!

If you have reserved seats in the 10:30am Planetarium student show, you must arrive by 10:15am to give us time to process your order and escort you to the show. Note that we cannot place your class in later public shows if you missed your reservation.

If you have reserved a Student Lab, there is a 15-minute grace period before we may have to cancel your program to prepare for the next.

Do you issue refunds for cancellations?

Just be sure to cancel 30 days in advance of your visit to receive a full refund. Refunds will not be issued due to inclement weather or other day-of circumstances; however, a credit may be extended to a future trip within the same school year – let’s just reschedule you in!

Do you issue refunds for students or chaperones that don’t end up attending?

Discounted admission is given in part because you are a large group; as such, refunds are not given for students or adults who do not attend on the day of your visit. However, you can adjust your headcount as your visit date approaches to more accurately reflect expected participation. Just give us a call at 877.227.3311.

Some of my chaperones are Members. Can they get in free with some of the kids?

Alas, no. Member benefits for individuals or families do not apply to field trips, as these orders are taken on behalf of the school itself. Also, your class(es) enter the building via group entry, rather than the Membership door. You must reserve a space for any Members, and pay any associated admission fees.

What’s the parking situation?

Cars may park on surface streets for a limited time (up to 4 hours in Golden Gate Park) or in the underground city garage, but we cannot validate parking. The bus loading/unloading zone is located at the front of the Academy. City parking for buses is available behind the Music Concourse Bandshell for a low fee.

Help me plan – what are the recommended exhibits and activities for my grade?

We’ve created suggestions for grade-specific learning pathways to make it easy for you! Click on the ‘Program Options’ tab at left.

On the Morning of Your Visit

What paperwork do I have to bring to the entrance?

Bring a copy of your confirmation email, and please have your Field Trip Admission Form ready. A Guest Services associate will meet and direct your group to the appropriate line. Expect entry to take up to 10 minutes.

What if we’re running late?

Please aim to arrive at (or even slightly before!) your entry time, but rest assured that you will be allowed in regardless! Remember that your entire group must be present before you can be admitted to the museum, so plan accordingly when carpooling.

If you have reserved seats in the 10:30am Planetarium student show, you must arrive by 10:15am to give us time to process your order and escort you to the show. Note that we cannot place your class in later public shows if you missed your reservation.

If you have reserved a Student Lab, there is a 15-minute grace period before we may have to cancel your program to prepare for the next.

How can I prepare my chaperones?

Download a chaperone guide for ideas on how to facilitate student learning! The Chaperone Guide is available in English, Spanish, or Chinese.

What drop-in programs are available on the day of my visit?

Schedules for daily presentations can be obtained in the lobby on the day of your visit. Don’t forget the tide pool in the Aquarium, the Naturalist Center on Level 3, the Project Lab outside of the Rainforest, or the main docent carts stationed throughout!

Where can we eat lunch?

We recommend eating lunch in the Academy East Garden. We regret that storage for lunches is unavailable, but you can also purchase food at the Academy café. Tables on the West Garden patio are reserved for café guests.

Can we take photographs?

Yes! Please avoid using a flash and do not take pictures where signs forbid it. Tripods can be set up in certain locations, but not in a thoroughfare (e.g., the ramp up the Rainforest dome).

Can we exit and re-enter the museum on the day of our visit?

Yep! If anyone in the group wishes to leave the building and re-enter, they must get their hand stamped at the exit door. Students may not leave or enter the Academy without a teacher or chaperone.

What happens if we lost a student, or need first aid?

For lost children or first aid, please go to the Security Office located near the Alligator Swamp or flag down the closest Security guard or Guest Services staff on the public floor.

What other services do you provide that might be useful?

For lost and found items, go to the Coat Check in the front lobby. An ATM is also located nearby. Wheel-chairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis for those in need. A family restroom is located on the main floor near the Swamp.

Tips for the Online Application

Use an email address you check regularly, as this is where we will send a response to your application. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first served basis.

You can include up to 5 classes of 36 students on each online application. If you need to bring a larger group, simply submit a second application for the extra classes, using the same preferred visit dates.

On the online application itself, you will find a calendar displaying dates with available space. Note that reserved programming may not be available on all dates, and is not available on weekends.

Bring an appropriate number of chaperones to help facilitate the experience. A minimum of 1 adult for every 8 students is required, with the exception of high school groups. A maximum of 1 adult for every 4 students will be enforced, with the exception of certain special needs classes and groups of preschoolers.

Apply for a field trip for this summer or for the 2014-2015 academic year!

If you don’t receive an official confirmation email within six weeks, please call the phone number listed on the email message sent automatically to you upon submission. Normally, you should receive your field trip confirmation email within 3-4 weeks of submission, if not earlier.

Apply Now

4TH & 5TH GRADE TEACHERS IN SAN FRANCISCO

Family Science Adventure Guide
You and your students may be eligible for an Enhanced Museum Visit sponsored by the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Fund.
Learn More

ESSENTIAL PRINTABLES

Here you'll find convenient resources to print before your trip.

To find an activity or scavenger hunt with a focused learning objective, browse through our Lesson Plan Database.

LEARNING PATHWAYS

Here we recommend exhibits and activities that align to grade-specific learning goals. Print for yourself or for chaperones. Adapt as necessary!

EDUCATOR EXHIBIT GUIDES

Use our comprehensive guides to plan your field trip, learn about exhibit content, and link to exhibit-related activities for your classroom. Check them out at the bottom of our resource page.

BILINGUAL ACTIVITY GUIDES

Originally created for families participating in the Rock Program, these activity guides contain colorful pages that teachers can print as ready-to-go worksheets. The guides were designed for upper elementary school students, and are conveniently bilingual!

Family Science Guide - Chinese

WE THANK OUR SPONSORS

School & Youth Field Trips in FY14 are sponsored by Sakana Foundation and The Stanley S. Langendorf Foundation. Student Education programs and activities are generously supported by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

CONTACT US

If you have any questions or comments about our programs, resources, or educator events, please feel free to email us at .

To make changes to a reservation or to receive a copy of your confirmation email, contact , or call the Teacher & Youth Education hotline at 877.227.3311.

TOUR EXHIBITS USING YOUR IPHONE

The “Academy Insider” iPhone app includes museum floor plans, self-guided tours, and a live list of daily programs. Learn more about Academy exhibits through fun facts, quizzes, video, and audio clips. You can even create a customized tour!

Academy Insider app

Read more

EXPLORE THE ACADEMY

Tour the California Academy of Sciences with interesting explanations of exhibits from our Aquarium Biologists and Research Scientists.

HD Quicktime Version [MOV 958MB]


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