Teachers’ Lounge

Archive for February, 2012

Spring 2012 Homeschool Day, April 17th

by rochelle on Feb. 27th, 2012 4 Comments

Homeschool Day October 18, 2011HOMESCHOOL DAY

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Join us on this special day of presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on programs, when we invite homeschooling families to explore the Academy at reduced admission prices.

Download and print the FAQ and Registration Guide, which includes everything you need for planning your experience and reserving a spot for your family.


San Francisco Homeschool Families
Two adults may attend with their children (ages 4-17) for free.

Homeschool Families from outside San Francisco
Two adults may attend with their children (ages 4-17) for only $6.95 per person.

Free Admission for Infants and Toddlers
Children ages 0-3 are free, but please include them in your reservation so that we may monitor attendance.

Additional Chaperones
Reservations for additional adult chaperones may be made at general admission prices ($29.95 for adults; $24.95 for college students and seniors).

Reserved Programs
Although most Homeschool Day events are drop-in and covered in the price of admission, our reserved programs involve pre-registration due to capacity limits. These instructor-led classes involve a participation fee to cover the cost of materials. Fees are per participant, whether child or adult.


Registration is taken over the phone on a family by family basis. We set aside more than sufficient space for all interested families, yet still experience high call volume on the first day of registration. To minimize wait time for all callers, we will process orders with reserved programs two days earlier than open registration.

  • Tuesday, March 27, 2012: registration begins for families interested in paying additional fees for Reserved Programs (pg. 3) – seating is limited
  • Thursday, March 29, 2012: registration begins for families interested in purchasing general admission, which includes all exhibits and Drop-in Programs (pg. 2) – plenty of room

Pre-registration is required for all attending family members for general admission and any reserved programs. Walk-ups will not be admitted at these discounted rates, but we will continue to register interested families through April 16, 2012. Print-at-home tickets will be issued to you by email, and your confirmation will list any reserved programs. Bring these printouts with you on the day of the event to gain admittance.

Fill out the attached Registration Guide with key information before placing your call to the Contact Center at 877.227.3311. Registration is not available online or via email.

Contact Center Hours
8:00 am – 5:00


Take your time exploring our exhibits. Note special hours for the following:

Rainforests of the World
Level 1, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Morpho butterflyExperience what it’s like to walk in a living rainforest. Our dome contains 1,600 live animals, including 600 free-flying birds and butterflies, 100 exotic reptiles, and amphibians. You’ll descend in an elevator to the Amazonian flooded forest on the Lower Level.

Morrison Planetarium: Life: A Cosmic Story
Level 1, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm on the half hour
EarthThe Academy’s new planetarium show is a high-speed ride through the history of life. Come explore the age-old mystery: How did life on Earth begin? Passes are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the kiosk at the Planetarium entrance to select your show time. For ages 7+. Ages 3 and under not permitted.

Naturalist Center
Level 3, 11 am – 4 pm
Naturalist CenterWith books, specimens, and online access, this space is a great place to learn more about the natural world with one-on-one help from naturalists. Visitors with shared interests can sit and chat; browse books, and curriculum guides. Scavenger hunts available upon request.

Early Explorers Cove
Level 1, 10 am – 5 pm
Early Explorers CoveIn this space reserved for toddlers and their caregivers, guests can learn through active participation in several themed areas. Imagine what it was like to be a scientist on the child-sized model of the research schooner Academy, shop in our mini farmers market and explore the hidden burrows in the faux California backyard. For ages 5 and under.


Discover with Docents
Level 1, Throughout the Day
Docents are amazing!Be on the lookout for enthusiastic, knowledgeable docents in orange lab coats. Investigate specimens up-close, watch a volcano explode, build an ice-cold comet, or meet a live animal ambassador. Docents stationed on the floor are ready for your questions. You’ll find most docents on Level 1; visit others at the hands-on Discovery Tidepool on the Lower Level.

Penguin Feeding
10:30 am and 3:00 pm in African Hall
PenguinThe Academy’s African Penguins are always especially animated during meal time. Watch the birds dip and dive in their tank in African Hall as a biologist dons a wet suit and hands out vitamin-stuffed herring and capelin.

Swamp Discovery
11:00 am at the Swamp
Claude in the SwampLearn more about these wetland ecosystems of the Southeast United States. Listen to sounds of swamp inhabitants as we follow the life of the American alligator from hatchling chirps to the booming bellows of mature adults, all beneath the moss-draped limbs of a bald cypress.

Specimen Spotlight
11:30 am and 1:30pm in the Naturalist Center
SpecimenLearn about a different Naturalist Center specimen in each of these focus talks. Note that seating is limited. Recommended for ages 6+.

Coral Reef Dives
11:30 am and 2:30 pm at the Philippine Coral Reef
DiverTalk with a diver who descends into the exhibit to introduce you to the world’s deepest living coral reef exhibit. What question will you ask? Bring along a Coral Reef Color Wheel, or try your hand at some Fish Family Identification.

The Sweet Side of DNA
12:00 pm at the Project Lab
Strawberry DNA extractionHave you ever wondered what “the essence of life” – DNA – would look like? In the course of this 15-minute program, we will crush up fresh strawberries and extract their DNA in order to see it up close and personal.

Discovery Nature Walk
12:30 pm
California PoppyJoin us for a 30 minute nature walk, exploring gardens and groves that surround the Academy. Learn about the importance of native plants and trees and how they support animals in Golden Gate Park.

Ssssnake Encounter
1:00 pm in the Piazza
SnakeMeet some of the Academy’s live snakes in-person! While viewing these fascinating (and harmless!) animals in the flesh, we will learn about snakes’ unique natural history, their predatory behavior, and their special senses.

Shark Feeding
1:30 pm at the Coral Reef Lagoon
Coral Reef LagoonSharks and rays are some of the most compelling and misunderstood animals on the planet. Learn more about the Mangrove Lagoon’s shallow reef residents, including sharks and rays, and watch a feeding.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Naturalist Center
Naturalist CenterA limited amount of printed worksheets will be available here, so we recommend printing your favorite from home. Complete your quest while touring the exhibits, then pick up a prize from the Naturalist Center!


These programs involve pre-registration due to room capacity. All of the courses taking place in the Classroom and Education Lab are hands-on activities designed for both individual and group learning.

Registration is subject to availability. Any associated fees are per participant and due upon registration. Because seating is limited, parents may not audit classes — if you’d like to participate, please register for yourself as well.

Honey Bees
Level 3, Classroom, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Bees Fanning the HiveHow do bees cooperate so well, when they cannot talk to each other? In this active learning activity, students will learn about the type of communities bees live in and experience how bees use a dance to communicate where to find pollen. Parent participation is highly recommended for younger learners.For ages 5-8. $7.95/person.

Owl Pellets
Level 3, Education Lab, 10:30 am – 11:30 am
OwlStudents will learn how to use the scientific method to answer questions, collecting class data from their owl pellet dissections to determine the diversity and percent composition of species preyed upon by barn owls of the Pacific Northwest. Each participant may take home their collection of discovered bones! For ages 7+. $7.95/person.

Moon Phases
Level 1, Hohfeld Hall, 10:40 am – 11:10 am
MoonThe moon can be observed almost every day, yet the reason it has phases can be elusive. Is it the clouds, the Earth’s shadow, or something else? Using science visualizations in Hohfeld Hall, an interactive space connected to the planetarium, students will discover why the moon has phases.
For ages 10+. $3.95/person.

African Biomes and Skulls
Level 3, Classroom, 11:45 am – 12:45 pm
African AntelopeTake an expedition to Africa. In this program, the concept of adaptation is taught through the study of predator-prey interactions in seven African biomes. Students will draw, measure, and interpret a skull from an African animal just like a researcher would in the field. Students will identify their skull and then construct a food web of their biome. Follow up with a visit to African Hall, and you’ll notice the diverse biomes found on this continent!For ages 9+. $7.95/person.

Family Shark Dissection
Level 3, Education Lab, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Spiny DogfishAfter learning about the spiny dogfish shark, your team will explore the internal and external anatomy of this ever-popular specimen. The dissection will highlight how shark morphology showcases the unique abilities of these fish. Gain a great appreciation for shark anatomy, ecology, and conservation! Adult participation is highly encouraged and required for students ages 6-9. For ages 6+. $11.95/person.

The Amazing Carbon
Level 3, Classroom, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
CoalCarbon is a vital element in all living things and found in many other unexpected places. In a series of activities, students will learn that carbon can be found in many forms, in both living and non-living things. Using an active role play, students will also demonstrate how carbon moves around in the environment from one form to another. For ages 8+. $7.95/person.


What time should we arrive at the museum?
Families can arrive at their convenience; drop-in programs are scheduled throughout the day! However, if you have scheduled a reserved program, please check in for your program 10 minutes prior to your program.

Is parking available at the Academy?
The Music Concourse Parking Facility is a public lot that often fills to capacity early in the day, and tickets cannot be validated by the Academy. However, free street parking is available in Golden Gate Park. Note that many spaces are limited to 3-4 hours. An adult can certainly leave the building to move the family car — just remember to receive a hand stamp at the Guest Services desk for re-entry.
Map and Directions >>

What if we bring more people than originally stated on our reservation?
If you arrive with more people in your group than indicated by your reservation, you will be asked to pay the full admission price for these individuals at the door.

What should we do for lunch?
You may carry your own bag lunch or purchase food from the Academy Café. No food or drink is allowed on the exhibit floor, but tables are provided in the West Garden and the East Garden.

What other services might be helpful to know about?
Wheel-chairs are available at the Coat Check for those in need. For lost children or first aid, please go to the Security Office located near the Swamp or flag down the closest security guard in the exhibits. Restrooms are available on all levels next to the staircase/elevator leading to the Living Roof, as well as in the basement-level Aquarium. A spacious family restroom is located on the main floor near the Swamp.

Are there Mobile Apps to help enhance our experience?
Head over to our Mobile Apps page where you can download one of our three Academy mobile apps: Pocket Penguins, Academy Insider, and the Golden Gate Park Field Guide.

How should our family prepare for the museum? Where can we find scavenger hunts?
pencilsThe Academy website features information on our exhibits and the scientific disciplines explored by our researchers. We highly encourage homeschool families to check out our lesson plan database full of activities fit for the museum and the home.

Here is a handy list of sample activities:

Troubled Tree Frogs Scavenger HuntReady-to-go Worksheets

» Insect Anatomy Hunt
» Surrounded by Rocks and Minerals
» Our Chart of Body Parts
» Living Fossils Scavenger Hunt
» Troubled Tree Frogs Scavenger Hunt

 Anytime Lessons

» Marine Invertebrate Anatomy
» How Big is Big?
» Rock Cycle Roundabout
» Google Earth Geology Field Trip
» Go Bug!

How do I register with my child to attend one of the reserved programs?
Tell us the program name and the number of family members that you would like to register. You can register a child for more than one program, assuming age-appropriateness. Adult attendance is highly encouraged for the Honey Bees program for younger learners, and required for students 6-9 in the shark dissection lab.

What are the expectations for adult participation?
If you choose to register for a program with your children, we expect you to be an active participant. You’ll get to use all of the materials, too! Attendance is encouraged or required for programs designed for younger students; alternatively, you may check your child in for a program and return when it ends.

Where are the Classroom and Education Lab located? When do we meet?
Line up on the Level 3 balcony next to the Naturalist Center, and don’t forget to bring your Confirmation Letter as proof of registration. Please arrive 10 minutes early for check in.

Where is Hohfeld Hall located? When do we meet for the Moon Phases program?
The entrance to Hohfeld Hall is on the Lab Junior side of the Planetarium dome, and don’t forget to bring your Confirmation Letter as proof of registration. Please arrive 10 minutes early for check-in.

My child is advanced for his/her age. Can I sign him/her up for a program designed for older students?
Please follow the suggested age ranges listed when registering your children, understanding that the makeup of the class may be 30 students and adults of various ages. We’ll learn together!

Can you accommodate children with special needs?
The nature of these programs complements a variety of learning styles and abilities. We encourage you to indicate any special needs, whether physical or academic, upon registration. Don’t hesitate to indicate how best to accommodate the student(s). Wheel chair seating is available in the Planetarium, too.

How do we get passes for the Life: A Cosmic Story Planetarium show?
Passes are handed out on a first-come first-served basis. Visit the kiosk at the Planetarium entrance to select your show time.

Is there an age limit to attend a show in the Planetarium?
Yes. Please note that the Planetarium shows take place in a darkened environment, with imagery and sounds that some children may find disorienting. For these reasons, we strongly discourage entry for children under the age of seven. Children 3 and under are not permitted.

We hope you can join us! Don’t hesitate to leave comments and questions for us below.

“Save the World Through Science & Engineering” Video Contest

by rochelle on Feb. 27th, 2012 No Comments

Kavali Video ContestThe USA Science & Engineering Festival and the Kavli Foundation are challenging Grades 6-12 students across the world to brainstorm and share their ideas! This year’s contest theme is inspired by the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges. The NAE recently asked some of the world’s leading technological thinkers to identify what needs to be done to make people and our planet thrive.

USA Science and Engineering FestivalStudents worldwide are invited to submit entries to the 2012 video contest, with cash awards and prizes for the top entries. The best videos will be shown at the Festival Expo during April 27-29, 2012, where hundreds of thousands of science fans are expected to gather in Washington, D.C. The first place winner will also receive a travel stipend to attend the Expo.

To learn more or submit a video, visit the contest website.

Finding Urban Nature from Crissy Field Center

by rochelle on Feb. 25th, 2012 No Comments

The people over at the Crissy Field Center, part of the Golden Gate National Park, have created an excellent guide to the outdoor areas of San Francisco. With great descriptions of the City’s watersheds and what you can find at the parks and outdoor spaces, this resource can help you make the most of what is just outside your school’s door! See the following description from their website:
Explore San Francisco’s natural history with your students.
Finding Urban Nature
Finding Urban Nature: An Educators’ Guide to Exploring San Francisco Natural History is not curriculum or a book of activities. It is written for adults who have an interest in natural history—and who are also educators. It will help you locate and learn about parks and natural areas near your schools, as well as provide enough background information so that you will feel comfortable exploring these areas with your students. Whether or not you are well-versed in the “whys” and “hows” of the natural world, we hope this guide will enable you to be a naturalist and to share that experience with your students.”

You can download a pdf of the guide, by scrolling down to the bottom of their website.
Crissy Fields Center

NanoDays at the Academy and beyond

by rochelle on Feb. 24th, 2012 No Comments

Discover a miniscule world where materials have special properties and new technologies have spectacular promise! Don’t miss NanoDays – a nationwide festival of programs about nanoscale science and engineering – March 24 – April 1.

We are having our very own NanoDays events at the Academy’s Naturalist Center. Make your own nanomaterial using adhesive tape, investigate superthin materials used in solar cell technology, and change the color of a butterfly’s wings! Build a giant puzzle, play an “I Spy Nano” game, and much more.

To learn more about NanoDays and the amazing world of nanoscale science, visit What Is Nano? or see their great collection of K-12 educator resources.

Ecoliteracy PD for K-2 teachers this summer!

by rochelle on Feb. 3rd, 2012 4 Comments

SFUSD Summer Ecoliteracy Institute for K-2 Teachers

Monday June 4, 2012 — Friday June 8, 2012
9:00 am – 3:30pm

Presented by Sustainable SFUSD, the SF Botanical Garden Society, San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, California Academy of Sciences, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and Bay Area Science Project, this week-long training for K-2 teachers offers an interdisciplinary immersion in ecoliteracy principles.

  • Learn strategies for using your schoolyard as a meaningful learning environment
  • Create in your students an awareness of and appreciation for the environment
  • Come away with lessons and resources for integrating learning within the schoolyard
  • Build partnerships with your colleagues from your school and throughout SFUSD
  • Explore organizations and resources that can support ecoliteracy education for your students

Participants will gain the tools to fully integrate the green schoolyard with the State Common Core and Science Standards. Priority registration goes to teams of three or more teachers from the same school. Participating teachers will receive a $900 stipend, light breakfast and lunch each day, bus funds, and priority for seasonal field trips at local, environmental community partners.

For more information visit: www.sfecoliteracy.com/institute-2012

Note that the Academy is not the primary planner for this event, if you have specific questions you can contact SFUSD directly.