• Field trip students
  • Activity cart inside the California Academy of Sciences
  • Youth in the museum
  • Demonstration about pollinators
  • Kids exploring skulls

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 drop-in 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!

  1. Select your learning objective.
  2. Find one exhibit that fits this goal well.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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!


Apply Online
Field Trips

Dates through August 2016 are now available. After submitting your application, you can expect to receive a confirmation email within a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you access the Planetarium?
The only activity that requires advanced reservations is viewing a show in the Planetarium. You can select a show on your online application, and if space is available on your visit date, we'll book your group seats at a scheduled time. School groups may request seats in live astronomy presentations at 10:30 am which are designed specifically for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8, respectively.

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
california coast exhibit guide

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
african penguins in their exhibit

No two visits to the California Academy of Sciences are alike. Explore the drop-in presentations, animal feedings, and other activities scheduled for the day you plan to visit. Most are daily, and are appropriate for all ages.

  • 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
boy looks closely at skull specimen

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!

For Chaperones
kids handle a snake skin and feather at a docent cart

Download our one-page Chaperone Guide for ideas on how to facilitate student learning! The Chaperone Guide is available in English, Spanish, or Chinese.

Then, browse through more tips that encourage students to engage all five of their senses as they observe and discover the wonders in front of them. If you like any of them, share them with other adults in attendance!

Tips for Planning a Visit Date

The majority of the Academy's exhibits and programs will be available all year, including the Rainforest, Aquarium, African Hall, Earthquake, and Human Odyssey. However, you may want to plan your visit around temporary exhibits or the Planetarium show schedule.

Color of Life will remain open for several school years.

In the Planetarium, ​Habitat Earth (Grades 3-12) runs through February 25, 2016. Then, Incoming! (Grades 6-12), our new astronomy show, opens to school groups on March 14, 2016.

3D Earth: Rainforests opens February 5, 2016 in the Forum Theater.
Explore the rainforests of the world like never before with an all-new live 3D show that transports viewers from the lush forest floor to towering treetop canopies—and beyond.
Weekdays at 11am, 12noon, 1pm. Approximately 25 minutes.
This show does not require reservations, but we recommend getting in line early! While all viewers are welcome, the content might be best for upper elementary and secondary grades, and all guests will wear 3D glasses to enjoy the film.

Twilight Zone: Deep Reefs Revealed opens June 10, 2016 in the Coral Reefs of the World gallery.
Step inside a realm known as the twilight zone—a narrow, dimly lit band of the world's oceans more mysterious to scientists than the surface of the Moon. In this new aquarium exhibit, discover the beauty and importance of the little-known reefs that exist between 200 and 500 feet below the ocean's surface. Meet spectacularly colorful fish and rarely seen invertebrates, learn about the innovative technologies that are enabling Academy scientists to study this new frontier, and discover what you can do to help protect these amazing—and vitally important—ecosystems.

Apply Online

Dates through August 2016 are now available. After submitting your application, you can expect to receive a confirmation email within a week.

School Groups

School field trips are available year-round for school groups bringing grades preK-12, including preschool.

Youth Groups

Summer camps and afterschool programs qualify for discounted visit rates, too! Your form is brief.


Educators of homeschooled children can also plan a trip at discounted admission rates! Come on by.

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