A flock of birds fly across a blue sky

Animals don't use GPS to navigate the world around them, so how do they do it? Join us for a night featuring some of the amazing science behind communication and wayfinding in nature.

  • Sharks routinely make long-distance migrations, sometimes spanning entire ocean basins to their targeted locations. How do they maintain such incredible navigational success? Dr. Bryan Keller, Foreign Affairs Specialist at NOAA Fisheries, shares the story of a group of bonnethead sharks off the coast of Florida, and how they may be using the earth's magnetic field as a navigational aid.
  • Bats are skilled at echolocation, producing soundwaves to pinpoint their surroundings, but when it comes to navigating mid-flight they might not rely on echolocation as much as previously thought. Dr. Aaron Corcoran, Head of the Sensory and Aerial Ecology Lab at the University of Colorado, reveals the nighttime-navigation strategies of the hoary bat.
  • Ever taken a second to look closely at the marvels of an ant trail? Learn about the communication ecology of these insects as Jaime Mathew Chalissery, Master of Pest Management, shares the secrets of how little ants traverse a big world, and how one species of pavement ant coordinates its vast network of trails.



NightSchool is live on the first & third Thursdays of every month.

All NightSchool virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.



Missed the party? Just want to relive the magic? Watch the recorded livestreams on YouTube!


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Upcoming events

May 23rd at 6:00 pm

Why is California so special? Find out at the opening of our newest exhibition, California: State of Nature.

May 30th at 6:00 pm

Calling all creatures of the night! Explore the Academy's nocturnal side. Sounds by: DJ Mark Maiden.

June 6th at 6:00 pm

We’re bringing the spice at our hottest event of the year. Hear from spicy savants, sample fiery foods, & more.

June 13th at 6:00 pm

Honor Black contributions to global dance with a special Juneteenth edition of the Make History dance battle.

June 20th at 6:00 pm

Inked is back at NightLife! Explore the wonders of ink from cephalopods to live tattoos–yes, the real kind!

June 27th at 6:00 pm

Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with a night dedicated to community, activism & joy. Featuring drag by Oaklash.