Education Programs

Since we opened in 1984, more than 2 million students and teachers have participated in Monterey Bay Aquarium’s free education programs. We hope to nurture a generation of stewards who will ensure a healthy future for the ocean and us all.

The Aquarium expanded our capacity to offer innovative with the opening of the Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership. Located a few blocks from the Aquarium on Cannery Row, the facility helps us deliver the most robust suite of ecosystem-based education and youth development programs of any aquarium in the nation.

Our educational opportunities are focused into the following categories:

School Programs 

Annually, the Aquarium hosts more than 80,000 students from across California for free school field trips as well as extended programs for homeschooled students once a week throughout the school year. With the opening of the Bechtel Education Center, the Aquarium can now offer staff-led education programs for every visiting student and multiple approaches to visiting school groups, from observations of intertidal marine life, to digital learning experiences and hands-on activities that flow from the maker movement.

Teacher Programs

Each year, more than 1,500 teachers develop their skills in ecosystem-based approaches to science education as they engage in the Aquarium’s professional development programs. Using technology in workshops and virtual field trips continues to advance the Aquarium’s mission in new and effective ways. The Bechtel Education Center will allow the Aquarium to double its capacity to serve science teachers with these and similar programs.

Teen Programs

The Aquarium is committed to providing emerging teen leaders with the tools they need to become science-literate and confident advocates for the ocean. Every year, about 300 teens develop their knowledge and leadership skills as they engage in environmental research, service learning and conservation action through in-depth programs. Young Women in Science pairs young women from local cities with female marine scientists to explore science-based conservation through week-long programs of ocean activities. The WATCH education program offers an educational environmental experience to local high school students, beginning with a two-week outdoor summer camp and continuing through the school year. Alongside local ecologists, students learn scientific methods to evaluate the health of local wetland habitats, and share their findings in their communities and with wider audiences. Teen Conservation Leaders provide an exceptional experience for visitors on-site and as educators in the field by interpreting exhibits and working alongside education staff to lead summer programs. Teens can also pursue other learning tracks, including working with veterinary care staff or reaching out through social media channels to inspire peers to care for the ocean.