• An educator points to a worksheet while standing in front of a web camera.
    Academy educators are ready to connect with your students virtually.
  • Two educators draw a leaf during a distance learning program.
  • kids in the plants lab
    Your class will get an interactive science experience led by Academy educators.
  • tabling at family night

Our goal is to connect and support all K-5 schools in San Francisco in a way that students feel that science and nature are for them, and can see how science and nature are relevant to their lives and communities.

Free science programming for San Francisco classrooms

The Rock Fund Program is open to all kindergarten - 5th grade classes from San Francisco schools, whether public, private, or parochial.

In fall 2021, we have a wide variety of program offerings:

  • Select one of the three options below on the application for your class.
  • You may also apply separately for any grade-appropriate webinars.

We especially encourage SPED/inclusion classes, newcomer classes, and classes taught in a language other than English to apply for Option 1, 2, or 3. Let us know your needs, and we will do our best to customize a program for your students.

If you have any questions, email us at therockprogram@calacademy.org.

AT CAPACITY FOR FALL - Option 1: In-person exploration in your schoolyard or nearby park
A teacher notebook from an urban exploration, with colored pencils nearby.

If your class is unable to travel this Fall, we can come to you! Our educators will bring all the supplies needed for a fun and educational outdoor experience in your schoolyard, or a nearby park!

At least two classes from the same school are required to apply together for this option, and we encourage you to pull together three classes to take advantage of all three time slots.

Offered most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10 am, 11:30 am, and 1 pm.

Scientific Sketching (Grades K-2 or Grades 3-5)

  • In this outdoor program students will explore and get to know a specimen through creating a scientific sketch. Scientific sketching is not about making a pretty picture. It’s a tool for looking at something so closely you notice something new.
AT CAPACITY FOR FALL - Option 2: In-person exploration in Golden Gate Park
A shaded path winds through trees.

Is your school within walking distance of the Academy? Join us outdoors in Golden Gate Park! This option is best for schools within walking distance, as we don't anticipate being able to offer transportation scholarships in the fall semester.

Please note this programming option does not include admission to the museum. For self-guided field trips to the exhibits, you can apply here, instead.

Offered most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, at 9:30 am, 11 am, and 1 pm.

Nature Collections (Grades K-2)

  • What is a museum and how are the things within it selected and collected? During this outdoor lesson students begin with a visit from an animal character that likes to collect things. Then, students take on the role of explorers and curators that find and arrange their own nature collection. Finally students closely examine a collection made by a scientist here at the museum.

Citizen Scientists: Outdoor Explorations (Grades 3-5)

  • Join us outside, as we explore a secret trail near the Academy. We call it Quail Hollow! As citizen scientists, we will make observations, document what we see, identify plants and animals, and contribute to real science data. We will help a very special bird we hope you’ll love just as much as we do, by sharing our findings with a community of fellow citizen scientists (and professional scientists, too!).
    Option 3: Live individualized virtual program
    An Academy educator shows a demonstration with model coral in an aquarium.

    Join Academy educators for an interactive 1:1 program in our Zoom room!

    Each program is taught by a professional educator who converses directly with students via webcam and microphone. Students or classroom teachers may also interact with educators through polls or the chat box, and hands-on activities will be integrated into the online program.

    Offered most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, at 10 am, 11 am, and 1 pm.

    K-2: Rainforest Frogs

    • Get to know our small hoppy friends that call the Rainforest home. Together we will explore who lives on the forest floor, who is better suited to live in trees, and why are some rainforest frogs so brightly colored?

    3-5: Coral Reefs

    • The Philippines is home to one of Earth's most biodiverse hot spotsthe Philippine Coral Reef. Students will observe coral models and do hands-on scientific sketching to learn about the symbiotic relationship between coral and its best friend, zooxanthellae. We will examine how we use power, and explore ways our individual and community actions help coral ecosystems, far from where we live.
    Select your favorite: Live webinars
    Claude the albino alligator basks on his rock, with his reflection in the water.

    Back by popular demand, we have webinars for all grade levels available each month! Join Academy educators and other classrooms in our webinar Zoom room for an interactive online experience.

    • If you select Spanish-only or Spanish-English bilingual programs, we anticipate having plenty of space for all classes.
    • If you select an English-only program, we may have limited space, so you will rank your top two programs on the application.

    September 15, 2021 | Claude’s Hatchday (Grades 2-4)
    9:45 am for English-only presentation
    11 am for Spanish-English bilingual presentation

    • It's Claude’s Hatchday! Come celebrate the Academy's iconic albino alligator as he turns 26. We will explore swamps as we learn about Claude’s history and the ecosystem that alligators call home.

    September 21, 2021 | Science Storytime: Shine and Seek (Grades K-2)
    10:30 am PT for English-only presentation

    • Join us for storytime as we read together Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch to explore shadows. Then we'll use our own flashlights and toys to explore how shadows change during the day, and see if we can make some funny shadows ourselves!

    October 5, 2021 | Live Q&A with Astronomy Experts (Grade 5)
    10:30 am PT for English-only presentation

    • After watching a recording of the ‘Our Solar System and Beyond’ planetarium show at a time that fits your schedule, join us for a Q&A livestream where astronomy experts answer questions submitted in advance by students around the country.

    October 12, 2021 | Mission to the Moon (Grades K-2)
    10:30 am PT for English-only presentation

    • Join a planetarium presenter to explore how cultures around the world observe the Moon, and take an imaginary journey to the Moon’s surface.

    October 28, 2021 | Spooktacular Skulls (Grade 3)
    9:45 am PT for English-only presentation
    11 am PT for Spanish-English bilingual presentation

    • Come face-to-face with a diversity of spooktacular skulls! Watch a live colony of flesh-eating beetles in action as they devour and clean flesh from bones. Examine eye sockets, teeth, and other features to find out if mystery skulls were predator or prey.

    November 2, 2021 | Impacts in the Solar System (Grades 4-5)
    10:30 am PT for English-only presentation

    • Within the vast expanses of our solar system, between the planets and beyond, amazing discoveries about asteroids, comets, and meteors are currently being made. Students will take on the role of an astronomer by using hands-on models to explore "small bodies" in our solar system, and also take a guided virtual tour of outer space.

    November 10 & 17, 2021 | 2-part series: Sharks! (Grades K-2)
    10 am PT for English-only presentations
    11 am PT for Spanish-only presentations

    • Sharks are friends! Can you move like a shark? How fast are sharks? Let’s get up close and explore their body parts and see what makes sharks so fin-credible.

    December 2, 2021 | Tour of the Night Sky (Grades K-2)
    10:30am PT for English-only presentation

    • Have you ever wondered if that shiny star in the sky is actually a planet? While navigating the night sky for December 2, 2021, an Academy astronomy educator pointed out constellations, asterisms, and even planets visible that night.

    December 8 & 15 or 9 & 16, 2021 | 2-part series: Coral Reefs (Grades 3-5)
    11 am PT on Wednesdays for English-only presentation
    11 am PT on Thursdays for Spanish-English bilingual presentation

    • How are Academy Scientists and communities around the world collaborating to help coral ecosystems thrive? The Philippines is home to one of Earth's most biodiverse hot spots- the Philippine Coral Reef. Let’s dive into this hot spot, and learn about the symbiotic relationship between coral and its best friend, zooxanthellae. How do our individual and community actions impact this relationship and help coral ecosystems far from where we live?
    What about transportation scholarships?
    A yellow school bus.

    We are currently reestablishing partnerships with bus vendors and the SFUSD Transportation Office, and do not expect to have a system in place for the fall semester.

    In the meantime, please select from any of the free programming listed above!

    Should transportation scholarships become available, we'll reach out directly to our teacher network.

    We Thank our Sponsors

    The Enhanced Museum Visits for Students Program is generously supported by the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Fund.