55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Careers in Science 

August 9, 2010

Husbandry with the Vultures


One of the most exciting opportunities we have being an intern is when you’re a level 2 intern or higher you get to work with a biologist at the Academy. I have the chance to work with Vicki McCloskey, a biologist who specializes in taking care for birds. Every Thursday and Friday, I meet my biologist at 7 o’clock in the morning. We walk over to the kitchen and get food for the birds in the rain forest, including the parrots, are in the rain forest and the raptors out in the east garden. Once we’ve collected all of our food we head over to the rainforest. Three different feeding stations have to be set up for the birds along with two feeding stations filled with nectar for the butterlfies. While we are doing all of this we have to keep a keen eye out and mark down all the birds we spot. There are over 30 birds in the rainforest and we have to eventually spot all of them. We mark down the birds we don’t see. After everything in the rain forest is taken care of, we head over to the raptors while being fully equipped with some tasty rodents. Once in the aviary with the three Turkey Vultures just roaming around, I have to clean the sleeping quarters of the loose feathers that might have fallen off during the night.

By Robbeen

Filed under: Conducting Science,General News,Learning Science,Uncategorized — CiS Interns @ 1:00 pm

Botany with Tom Daniel!


Last Monday, the interns received a presentation about the Acanthacea family better known as “Shrimp” plants. We learned that the characteristics of the Acanthacea family are:
• Leaves are opposite, estipulate
• Cystoliths
• Capusles with Retinacula
Tom Daniel also told us about the systematics of these plants and how he personally studies them. He creates whats called “Monographs”. Monographs are really detailed and consist of illustrations, descriptions, and identification keys. After Tom Daniel presentation we were able to do plant dissections. We reviewed the main parts of a flower (stamen, pistil, perianth, etc) and learned the functions of each. We sketched our plants and counted the number of stigma on each one and the number of petals. Later during the actual dissection we measured the length of pistil and the filament. The interns were excited for the dissection and a couple even took some flowers home. We are excited for our next Botany lesson!

By Maria

Filed under: Conducting Science — CiS Interns @ 11:25 am

New intern orientation week

The week of New Intern Orientation, or the first week of the summer semester, is not only exciting for the new interns, but for the “seasoned” interns as well. The whole week was filled with engaging trainings for all of us ranging from field work to even the Academy’s history.


The next training day was all about science in general and conducting science. It started with a training led by Eric, Careers in Science Manager, who taught us all about science- what it is and how it is executed -to introduce everybody to the concept of “conducting science” and the multiple processes within. Our definition of science is “the process through which knowledge of the natural world is built, and and also the knowledge itself. Science relies on the testing of ideas with empirical evidence gathered form the natural world.”

A vital part of “conducting science” is taking field notes so Jack Dumbacher, Chairman and Assistant Curator of the Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, generously come in to talk to us about taking field notes and the importance of it. We ended the day about field work and conducting science by actually going out to do some field work, we monitor Pacific Mole crabs (sp. Emerita analoga) down in Ocean Beach.

The third training day was all about Invertebrate Zoology. Maya Walton, assistant manager of the program revealed the newly completed outreach station called Human Impacts on Corals. Interns Jasmine, Dina, and Noelani taught the station to us the same way they would teach the middle school students, so we can get a feel of how the station works.

All in all we were super excited to start working with these twelve new interns and are ecstatic to start the year with such great training topics.

Filed under: Conducting Science,Learning Science — rdarawali @ 9:57 am

April 27, 2010

Externship excitement

Kiana working in the Aquarium as her research experience.


As a fresh Level Two intern, I’m looking forward to the new breadth of opportunities I have in store for me. I am especially looking forward to one opportunity the intern program is notable for, working with research scientists or husbandry experts here in the Academy.

There are a whole lot of research departments I could work in, including Entomology, Ichthyology, Herpetology, Ornithology & Mammalogy, Anthropology, Invertebrate Zoology, Geology, Botany, and the Academy’s Library. There are also divisions in the husbandry department in our Aquarium that include Herps and Birds, Horticulture (plants), Marine tropical (corals, jellies, etc), Marine temperate (California coast, tidepool), and our famous African Penguins.

Interns are already working in these departments and we switch departments when the semester ends so we get the full experience and find which area of science we would maybe pursue in our future careers. The head start we get as interns is something we are extremely proud of and I am definitely excited about it.


By Renn

Filed under: Conducting Science,Learning Science — CiS Interns @ 5:42 pm

December 21, 2009

Project Groups!

Interns have been working on four projects for the fall semester of the Intern Program. We refer to them as ‘Project Groups,’ which is a small group of interns that work on a project for the Intern Program. We use project groups so that everyone gets to work as a team to reach a common goal and get a defined understanding of a specific subject. Project Groups can work on things like making new stations, learning new skills, or the Intern Program’s newsletter. The four projects that are in progress now are Extreme Mammals, Parasites, Entomology, and Newsletter.

The Extreme Mammals and Parasites Project Group are on their way to becoming new demonstration stations for the interns. We have five stations that we presently teach on the public floor; Food Webs Demonstration, Beetle Dichotomous Key Station, Limb Homology Interactive, Penguin Interpreter, and Touch Tank. All of these stations relate to the Academy’s mission statement to explore, explain, and protect the natural world. The Extreme Mammals group will be about extinct, extreme, or big, California Mammals. The Parasites group will be about different types and kinds of parasites that affect ecosystems. They have and are going through several revisions so that they’re ready to be taught on the floor.

The third project group was created because of our trip to Trinity Alps this past July where we collected insects and other organisms with Roberta Brett from the education department. The Entomology group is helping Roberta identify and pin the specimens collected from this trip. The majority of the specimens are insects, but we also have some spiders and larvae included. Once all of it is sorted through, it will be added to the Academy’s entomology collection. This project also relates to our Beetle Dichotomous Key Station where we help guest identify beetles from different parts of the world, but instead the interns are using their knowledge of the dichotomous key to identify the specimens collected.project-groups-jp

Finally there’s Newsletter group. I’m apart of newsletter this semester and have helped put together the fall edition of Spotlight.


By Jasmine

Filed under: Conducting Science,Group Building,Uncategorized — CiS Interns @ 5:43 pm

July 8, 2009

Spiny dogfish shark dissections!

During the month of March, interns had special trainings about the processes of science. We were taught about the external morphology of the spiny dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias) by Careers in Science Manager, Eric Godoy. These trainings were really cool. It was our first time in the lab and the dissections and observations we were conducting made me feel like a real scientist.
Eric talking about science

Eric talking about science

The Spiny Dogfish is a bottom-dwelling shark that may be found in temperate waters close to shores worldwide. It feeds on smaller fish, octopus, squid, crabs and jellyfish and becomes sexually mature between six to twelve years old. Before starting the lab, we were split into pairs and used various tools to learn about the exterior of the shark. We learned that it has pectoral fins, which help it swim more efficiently. The Dogfish also has spiracles, which are these very small openings that force water across their gills allowing them to remain stationary at the bottom of the ocean. The lateral line, which is common in most sharks, allows the Dogfish to feel vibrations and detect its prey. We were taught about the various planes and directional terms of the Spiny Dogfish. At plain sight, not a lot of physical characteristics can be seen but when an in depth look is taken, many of the small details come to life. You could actually see the spine of the Dogfish along its back!

The following week, Dr. John McCosker, Academy Sr. Scientist and Chair of Aquatic Biology and Dr. Meg Burke, Director of Education, taught us about the inside of the Spiny Dogfish as we dissected (cutting into) the shark. Intern Nicolette Ng made a startling discovery, “I opened up the dogfish’s stomach and inside I found a smaller fish compacted into the same shape as the stomach!”

The idea that people make these kinds of discoveries everyday as marine biologists is very interesting. It provides us with a first hand experience of what breakthroughs we could be a part of when we have a career in science. These trainings were very exciting to me because I have never dissected a shark before. Being a biologist seems like it would be a rewarding career due to the fact that you are able to discover something new everyday!

Yoni and Dina taking measurements

Yoni and Dina taking measurements

Filed under: Conducting Science — CiS Interns @ 3:03 pm

October 16, 2008

Conducting Science – Sand Crab Monitoring

Beginning in 2004, the intern program has worked with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and their LiMPETS program (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) over the summer to collect Pacific mole crabs (Emerita analoga), otherwise known as sand crabs, at Ocean Beach.

Pacific mole crab, aka sand crab

Pacific mole crab, aka sand crab

The two main reasons we participate in this monitoring program are:

We collect and monitor the sand crabs because they are an important link in beach ecosystems; they are prey for shore birds, fish and sea otters. More importantly, sand crabs are intermediate hosts to Acanthocephalan parasites. If the sand crab is infested with parasites and then is consumed by a bird, fish or sea otter, then this new host becomes infected as well, which can lead to death.

The parasite in the body of the sand crab

The parasite in the body of the sand crab

Interns get hands-on experience in performing real research, such as collecting and dissecting specimens as well as data entry.

 Samples are collected once a week between June and August from the same area on Ocean Beach. We take ten samples from five random transects in this area. If the Interns find any sand crabs, we record the sex and length. After we finish, we pick fifteen sand crabs of varying size and sex to bring back and dissect.

Surveying the scene at Ocean Beach

Surveying the scene at Ocean Beach

Collecting a sample

Collecting a sample

Examining the sand crab

While we are dissecting the sand crabs, we record information such as the size, sex of the crab, where and when it was collected, and how many parasites are found. When we finish dissecting the sand crabs, we send the data to the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. They receive data from many other volunteer and school groups. This helps the researchers see the bigger picture and observe long-term changes and trends.

Dissecting the sand crab

Dissecting the sand crab

Filed under: Conducting Science — CiS Interns @ 1:32 pm

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