We recognize that bringing a group to the Academy can be intimidating: the learning environment is stimulating and the list of daily events staggering. To assist you with trip planning, we have a few suggestions for selecting daily activities, and we've designed resources for structuring learning.
Make a Plan!
Choose Your Own Pathway
We recommend aligning your visit with a singular learning objective. Less is more!
- Select your learning objective.
- Find one exhibit that fits this goal well.
- Design a simple self-guided or group activity, or browse through the Academy's scavenger hunts. Emphasize concepts rather than facts. Use things you can observe directly rather than focusing on text. Consider using these scaffolds for field trips that involve a tiny bit of pre-work in students' science notebooks.
- Scan through the daily calendar and interactive exhibits. Would you like to instruct your chaperones to make sure students get to experience one or more?
- Leave time for student exploration, social interaction, and memory-making! Academy staff and docents are scattered throughout the building. Encourage your students to talk with them!
- Consider reading this Social Story to prepare younger students for their visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost?
San Francisco school groups are admitted free. Other California school groups and some youth groups may be eligible to receive heavily discounted rates subsidized by donations to the Academy for All fundraising effort. Prices may vary based on time of year.
Can I explore the Academy before the field trip to plan?
Yes! Field trip organizers can bring their order confirmation to the Service Desk outside the entrance, and we'll print one complimentary admission ticket for you. As long as you have an upcoming field trip, you can get into the building to plan!
Educator Exhibit Guides
Consider planning your trip around a particular exhibit that complements your science curriculum. We've developed Educator Exhibit Guides to help you:
- Plan an Academy field trip around a specific exhibit.
- Learn about an exhibit’s themes and key concepts to guide students’ experience.
- Discover Academy-written activities related to the exhibit.
- Find out about scientific research happening behind-the-scenes.
Feedings & Presentations
No two visits to the California Academy of Sciences are alike. Explore the presentations, animal feedings, and other activities scheduled for the day you plan to visit.
Most are daily, and are appropriate for all ages. Programs tend to last 15 minutes, and we encourage you to stay for the duration.
- For the 10:30am Penguin Feeding and 11:30am Coral Reef Dive, we recommend arriving early for a seat!
- Docent carts change daily, so you won't be able to plan around them. Simply be on the lookout for orange lab coats!
Scavenger Hunts & Museum Worksheets
Educators are always looking for worksheets and activities to guide student learning. These museum worksheets don't involve finding "the answers," but rather serve as tools to structure your visit around a given theme.
Encourage your students to slow down, make careful observations, and engage in science discourse with their peers!
Sensory Bags & Social Story
If you have children in your group with sensory needs, head over to Coat Check to borrow a bag containing noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, and other anxiety-reducing touchables.
You can also plan to visit museum areas that are less likely to be loud, smelly, or visually complex, using the Sensory Guide on the interactive floor map.
Consider reading this Social Story to prepare students for their visit.
Field trips are on hold through summer 2021. We anticipate being able to welcome groups starting in the fall 2021 semester. Stay tuned!
Available for formal school groups bringing grades preK-12, including preschool.
Summer camps and afterschool programs qualify for discounted visit rates, too!
The Rock Fund Program is open to K-5 classes in the city of San Francisco. This unique opportunity includes free field trip programming and needs-based transportation scholarships.