• Field trip students
  • Activity cart inside the California Academy of Sciences
  • Youth in the museum
  • Demonstration about pollinators
  • Kids exploring skulls
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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. Consider using these scaffolds for field trips that involve a tiny bit of pre-work in students' science notebooks.
     
  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!

 

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Apply Online

Field Trips

Dates for the 2017-2018 school year are now available. After submitting your application, you can expect to receive a confirmation email within a week, if not earlier. 

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost?
San Francisco school groups are admitted free, and other California school groups pay only $9.95 per person. Youth groups and homeschoolers attend at a discounted rate of $16.95 per person. Planetarium shows are free, but a reservation is required.

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!

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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.
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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!
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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!

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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!

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Tips for Planning a Visit Date

‘Tis the Season for Science—complete with indoor snow flurries, a snowman-shaped digital planetarium dome, a hands-on polar-themed exhibit, and an all-new ice rink—transforms the Academy into a winter wonderland. With winter break being a blackout period for school and youth groups, you'll need to book a visit between November 27-December 21, 2017, to experience this festive holiday exhibit!

If your students would benefit from multilingual programs, we recommend visiting on one of the following special dates:

Some exhibits close temporarily for maintenance. Closure dates are estimated for: ​ Planetarium: Jan 8-10, 2018; Rainforest: Jan 24-25, 2018; May 8-10, 2018

  • Pterosaurs and Life on Ice run through January 7, 2018.
     
  • Starting March 5, 2018, we will be permanently closing our Earthquake exhibit to prepare for a brand new exhibit opening June 2018!
     
  • The Planetarium is currently showing Earthquake (Grades 3-12) for school and youth groups. Starting mid-March 2018, we'll reveal a new Planetarium show: Expedition Reef

 

 

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Pre-Paid Dining Options

Step out of the box and taste the difference. Handcrafted at the Academy Café with locally sourced ingredients, boxed lunches or dining gift cards are great for groups on tight schedules and for trip planners who want to pay for everyone's meals with one form of payment.

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Apply Online

Dates for the 2017-2018 school year 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.

Homeschoolers

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

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