Educators teach a class in the new outdoor learning space in Wander Woods.

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 K-5 San Francisco classrooms

The Rock Fund Program in-person field trip program is back and open to all Kinder - 5th grade classes from San Francisco schools, whether public, private, or parochial.

Applications are now open for the 2023-2024 school year!

We especially encourage SPED/inclusion classes, newcomer classes, and classes taught in a language other than English to join us. Let us know your needs, and we will do our best to customize our programs for your students.

  • While we can only offer one educator-facilitated Rock Fund Field Trip per class in any given school year, you are welcome to submit as many self-guided field trip applications to visit the Academy in addition to participating in the Rock Fund Program.
  • You may also register for any of the free broadcasts offered on our Distance Learning website!

If you have any questions, email us at

Kindergarten Options
  • Homes for Fish | Monday-Thursday at 10:15 am *Offered November-February *
    What makes the California Academy’s coral reef a good home for fish? Students will explore through close-up observations of aquarium animals, creative play, rhyme and song.
  • Nature Collections | Monday-Thursday, 10:15 am and 11:30 am
    What is a scientific collection and how are the items within it selected? Students begin in the outdoor classroom with a visit from an animal character that likes to collect things. Then, students take on the roles of explorers and curators that find and arrange their own nature collection. Finally, students closely examine a collection made by a scientist. Please note that this program is held outdoors. 
First Grade Options
  • Scientific SketchingMondays and Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:30 am *Offered January-May*
    Scientific sketching is not about making a pretty picture. It’s a tool for looking at something so closely you notice something new. In this outdoor program, students will explore and get to know a specimen through creating a scientific sketch.
  • Sun, Moon and Stars (planetarium show)Thursdays at 10:30 am
    Explore the difference between day and night, the motion of the Sun and moon, and the patterns of stars in the night sky!

Second Grade Options
  • Rainforest Cacao | Monday-Thursday at 10:15 am and 11:10 am *Offered November-February*

    Rainforests are home to a multitude of animals, plants, and -- shhh, it's a secret -- chocolate! In this program, students look closely at various specimens and tell each other stories with fun props as they explore how rainforest animals help cacao grow. Please note the Rainforest will be closed from August 21- November 17, 2023 and May 7- May 9, 2024.

  • Get Outside!Monday-Thursday at 10:15 am and 11:30 am *Offered Sept-Nov and Mar-May*

    How do bugs in Golden Gate Park choose their homes? With hands-on, outdoor exploration using real scientist tools, students will become Habitat Scientists and collect information to better understand the diversity within small habitats of Golden Gate park. Please note that this program is held outdoors.

Third Grade Options
  • Coral  | Monday-Thursday at 10:15 am and 11:30 am *Offered January-May*

    Students will use scientific skills to explore real coral specimens. They will also role play with engaging costumes and a skit, as they gather evidence to understand whether coral polyps are plants or animals.

Fourth Grade Options
  • Engineering our Shorelines | Mondays and Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:30 am 

    Students take on the role of engineers who are working with community members from India Basin to design a shoreline that is safe for people and wildlife. Students use table-top wave tanks to investigate ways in which water moves in the bay, and then test out their designs to see how well they stand up to flooding.

  • San Francisco GeologyWednesdays and Thursdays at 10:15 am and 11:30 am

    Students become geologists and are asked to advise the city of San Francisco on 1 of 3 locations to build a water recycling plant. Teams of 3 use a variety of scientific skills and tools to conduct a series of investigations, gathering evidence (e.g. stability and erosion) and then, as experts, arguing for or against their specific geological site.

Fifth Grade Options
  • Community Science | Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:15 am and 11:30 am
    *Offered Sept-Oct, Mar-May*

    Join us outside, as we explore a secret trail near the Academy. We call it Quail Hollow! As community 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 scientists.

  • California Skulls | Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:15 am and 11:30 am
    *Offered November-February*

    Students take an exciting adventure as ecologists, to explore the Golden State’s diverse climate regions and biodiversity. Students will examine skulls to find clues about the animals that live in their climate regions and how they are interconnected.

  • Motions of the Solar System (planetarium show) | Tuesdays at 10:30 am

    Become a space scientist as you observe the changing patterns of the sky and see how they compare to the other planets of our Solar System.

What about transportation scholarships?
A yellow school bus.

As part of the Rock Fund Program, we have the ability to pay for buses on behalf of San Francisco Unified School District sites for which transportation is a significant barrier to attending an Academy field trip.

Because of the high cost per bus, and the unknown volume of school buses available in San Francisco on any given day, we ask that teachers from schools near Golden Gate Park save our limited scholarship fund for sites that exist at a distance from the museum.

We encourage nearby schools to consider walking to the park or taking MUNI, which is now free for youth without any tokens or cards! We are happy to mail MUNI tokens to your school site for teachers and adult chaperones.

Science Adventure Booklets for each elementary student
Cover of the Science Adventure Guide for Families

While visiting the museum on their Rock Fund Program field trip, each student will receive a Science Adventure booklet to take home!

With text available in Spanish, Chinese, and English, this trilingual booklet will guide families in exploring the Academy on a date that works for them, using the free Family Tickets included!


Family Science Nights are coming back!
An educator in a white lab coat smiles at a student.

Each spring, the Rock Fund Program hosts several Family Science Nights at the museum, inviting San Francisco elementary students to bring their entire household to the museum for an evening of science fun.

Multiple school sites are invited to each event, often clustered based on similar geography or language needs.

The Rock Fund Program team will be in touch with your school site in late 2023 if your school community is invited to an event in spring 2024 (if not, we'll catch you during the subsequent school year!).

We Thank our Sponsors

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