Field Trips at the Museum

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR FIELD TRIPS >>

Registration is now open for school field trips dates between February 1 and May 31.

About Museum Field Trips

We are delighted to offer a variety of NGSS-aligned school field trips for the 2023–2024 school year, designed for grades K–12. Field trips at the Museum on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays include a choice of any two from the following program groups:

  • A Magical Museum Tour
  • A Museum Lab or class
  • A Museum Backyard program of outdoor nature exploration
  • An interactive Astronomy School Program including outdoor activities and a presentation in our Gladwin Planetarium through April 5.

Please note that, due to construction on our planetarium and Space Sciences hall beginning April 8, our Astronomy school programs will feature interactive indoor/outdoor astronomy programming rather than a planetarium show beginning April 8.

We also offer two longer-format fifth-grade programs this year: on environmental conservation (Mondays from 10:00 AM–Noon) and astronomy (Tuesdays from 10:00 AM–Noon). See below for details.

All field trips include a break in our Prehistoric Forest where students can stretch their legs and meet some dinosaurs.

See below for details of our field trips available in 2023–2024 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Field trips at the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf are also available >>.

Menu of Field Trip Programs

Note: All field trips are aligned with specific NGSS grade-specific standards but can be adjusted to work for a range of grade levels. Please contact bookings@sbnature2.org for details or to have a program adjusted for your class.

School Field trip to the Museum Backyard

Kindergarten

Museum Backyard Program - Home, Sweet Habitat
NGSS: K-LS1-1, K-ESS3-1

Students will learn what the basic needs of animals are and how they meet those needs in their habitats. They will meet the animals that can commonly be found in the Museum's oak woodland habitat where we have our Backyard area. They explore this habitat and make observations about how the animals there get what they need from their environments. Then they have the chance to test and apply what they’ve learned by taking the role of these plants and critters and making sure they find the right home for them!

Planetarium Show at the Museu

Astronomy School Program - Max Goes to the Moon
NGSS: 1-ESS1-1, 1-ESS1-2
PLEASE NOTE – THE PLANETARIUM WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER APRIL 5

Full-dome planetarium followed by a presentation in the Space Sciences Hall. Students learn about the motion of the Earth around the Sun, the relationship between Earth’s rotation and the cycles of day and night, and where the Moon phases come from. They also hear stories about how space scientists—astronomers and astronauts—work to learn the secrets of our planet and our Moon.

Book tie-in, Max Goes to the Moon by Jeffrey Bennett

Astronomy programs will be modified after April 5 and will NOT include a Planetarium presentation – see details below.

Beginning April 10th, 2024

Read along of the book “Max goes to the Moon” with a Museum astronomy presenter. Kids have the opportunity to follow along with Max the dog’s adventures getting ready for a ride in space, and then participate in an interactive demonstration that shows how far away the Moon really is from Earth, how big it is in relation to the Earth, and other fun facts about our closest celestial neighbor. On clear days, students will also participate in safe solar viewing, where they will observe the sun through our special solar telescopes.

Magical Museum Tour – Who Lives Where?
NGSS: K-ESS3-1

Students interact with their peers and our Museum educators as they explore our galleries to help solve the mystery of where animals make their homes in the ocean, in the forest, underground, and high up in the trees.

First Grade

Lab - Meet the Teeth!
NGSS: 1-LS1-1

What can animals’ bodies tell us about how they live? What do teeth tell us about what an animal can eat? In this interactive program, students get up close and personal with some familiar wild animals (safely stuffed), and hands-on with animal skulls. Students learn to distinguish between herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.

Museum Backyard Program – Powerful and Precious: Parents & Babies of the Oak Woodland
NGSS: 1-LS1-1, 1-LS1-2, 1-LS3-1

Venturing into our wild and wonderful Museum Backyard, students delve into the fascinating world of the animal families that make their homes in this oak woodland habitat. By comparing the differences in babies’ bodies and behaviors to their animal grown-ups, students learn how these traits contribute to their ability to survive and thrive. Then, students put their knowledge into practice exploring our oak woodland to identify ideal, safe hiding spots for baby animals before becoming those animals themselves!

Astronomy School Program - Max Goes to the Moon
NGSS: 1-ESS1-1, 1-ESS1-2
PLEASE NOTE – THE PLANETARIUM WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER APRIL 5

Full-dome planetarium followed by a presentation in the Space Sciences Hall. Students learn about the motion of the Earth around the Sun, the relationship between Earth’s rotation and the cycles of day and night, and where the Moon phases come from. They also hear stories about how space scientists—astronomers and astronauts—work to learn the secrets of our planet and our Moon.

Book tie-in, Max Goes to the Moon by Jeffrey Bennett

Astronomy programs will be modified after April 5 and will NOT include a Planetarium presentation – see details below.

Beginning April 10th, 2024

Read along of the book “Max goes to the Moon” with a Museum astronomy presenter. Kids have the opportunity to follow along with Max the dog’s adventures getting ready for a ride in space, and then participate in an interactive demonstration that shows how far away the Moon really is from Earth, how big it is in relation to the Earth, and other fun facts about our closest celestial neighbor. On clear days, students will also participate in safe solar viewing, where they will observe the sun through our special solar telescopes.

Magical Museum Tour – How Do They Do that?
NGSS: 1-LS1-1

Students work with their teachers, peers and their Museum educator guide to discover the variety of traits animals use to succeed where they live. They find out how these traits help animals be winners in a rough-and-tumble wild world, and what humans can learn from these amazing adaptations.

Second Grade

Lab – GeOdyssey!
NGSS: 2-ESS1-1, 2-ESS2-2

Students travel way back in time, deep into the center of the Earth, and back home to the unique landforms of Central Coast California to explore the magnificent processes that shape our world, locally and globally. This program highlights the extraordinary geologic history of our Santa Barbara coast, watershed, and mountains, and how humans are making our mark on this precious part of the world.

Museum Backyard Program – Buzz, Flutter, Scatter!: The Biodiversity of Native Plants and their Amazing Animal Partners
NGSS: 2-LS4-1, 2-LS2-2, 2-PS1-1, 2-PS1-2

Students learn that there is great diversity of life across different habitats, and within single habitats as well. By investigating the structures of native plants, students make connections to the important roles that their partners, pollinators and seed dispersers, play in supporting ecosystems. After directly observing local biodiversity in our Museum oak woodland habitat, students will apply what they have learned in an interactive game, working to support native plants by becoming pollinators and seed dispersers themselves!

Astronomy School Program – Earth’s Wild Ride
NGSS: 2-ESS1-1
PLEASE NOTE – THE PLANETARIUM WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER APRIL 5

This program starts with a full-dome planetarium show where students will travel far into the future to see what a community living on the Moon might learn about the Earth by looking down on our home planet. Students will discover what a solar eclipse is and how it would look from the Moon, as well as how the Earth’s features such as mountains, rivers, and oceans have changed in many ways over its long, long history.

After the planetarium show, students will head to the Space Sciences Hall to learn how space rocks can help tell the story of our solar system’s origins. Students will learn to tell a meteorite from a meteor-wrong (a rock that may look like one but didn’t come from space) by using the four basic features of a meteorite.

Astronomy programs will be modified after April 5 and will NOT include a Planetarium presentation – see details below.

Beginning April 10th, 2024

Children will look to the ocean and talk about how the Moon’s gravity affects the tides that ebb and flow each day. Students will participate in an educational game that teaches students about the forces of gravity, and how the moon affects us here on Earth. Students will also learn about how the Moon can block the Sun, creating an eclipse for us here on Earth. Weather permitting, students will also observe the sun through our solar telescopes

Magical Museum Tour - The Many, The Different, The Mighty: How biodiversity makes ecosystems strong
NGSS: 2-LS4-1

In each ecosystem, there are unique and sometimes surprising connections that plants and animals share that form a vibrant, living web. Students explore Museum galleries to find the mighty teams of plants and animals that live together, intertwined for the good of all.

Third Grade

Class – Connecting with the Chumash
History-Social Science Standards 3.1.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.2

This class is an introduction to some of the important aspects of traditional Chumash culture, using Museum artifacts and replicas to bring students closer to features of customary daily life before the arrival of Europeans. This interactive, hands-on program allows students to see and touch representative items from Chumash traditional life such as baskets, a model tomol, and replica rock art. Students will learn about some of the natural resources found in the local area that are central to some of the Chumash heritage practices, and they will hear the voice of a Chumash storyteller, remembering that the best way to “study” about other cultures is to listen to the people themselves.

Museum Backyard Program – Into the Wild Backyard: A Scientific Nature Journaling Journey through Diverse Habitats
NGSS: 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-3

Animals’ appearance, behavior, and homes are adapted to match their environments. Students will have the chance to explore the diverse flora and fauna of Mission Creek and our own Museum oak woodland. Through the scientific and creative practice of nature journaling, they will document their observations, ask questions, and draw comparisons between different living spaces. By examining the natural environment in this thoughtful way, they will unlock the secret to understanding how certain traits of plants and animals are uniquely suited to survive their particular habitats. Students will cultivate the skill of careful observation and recording and develop a renewed connection with and curiosity for the natural world, fostering a deeper appreciation of our surroundings.

Astronomy School Program - Sky Tellers
NGSS: 3-ESS2-1, History-Social Science Standards: 3.2.1, 4.2.1
PLEASE NOTE – THE PLANETARIUM WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER APRIL 5

Explore the mysteries of our Universe with Sky Tellers! Ten Native American myths and legends investigate the reason for day and night, why we have seasons, the origin of the stars and other wondrous phenomena of our night sky. Each narrative is accompanied by the story that scientists tell today. This program will be followed by a brief tour of the Space Sciences Hall, revisiting the themes in the Sky Tellers! Planetarium program

Astronomy programs will be modified after April 5 and will NOT include a Planetarium presentation – see details below.

Beginning April 10th, 2024

Explore the mysteries of our Universe with Sky Tellers! One of our awesome astronomy presenters tells ten Native American myths and legends that investigate the reasons for day and night, for our seasons, the origin of the stars and other wondrous phenomena of our night sky. Each narrative is accompanied by the story that scientists tell today. Students will listen to these stories in the Chumash Hall at the museum, immersing themselves in the history and culture of Santa Barbara’s first peoples.

Magical Museum Tour - Survivors: Awesome animal adaptations for a wild world
NGSS: 3-LS4-2

Plants and animals have superpowers! When faced with environmental challenges, living things begin to make the most of the small changes in their bodies and behaviors that occur over many generations. Over time, these small changes can result in incredibly “smart” ways to be strong, healthy and successful in a wide variety of environments. On this tour, students explore our galleries to discover the ways that unique animal traits help them survive and thrive in the habitats they call home.

Fourth Grade

Lab – Dinosaur CSI (Crime Scene Investigation!)
NGSS: 4-ESS1-1

Students get their hands dirty as they examine the scene of a mystery preserved in ancient sand and stone. As junior paleontologists, they learn about how fossils are formed, discuss the evolutionary stories that fossils can tell, and participate in a hands-on mini dig of their very own.

Museum Backyard Program – Living High & Low: Mapping the Contours of Habitats on the Land
NGSS: 4-ESS2-2

The world we inhabit is varied terrain, and each peak and valley play a vital role in shaping the connectivity and biodiversity of our planet. How do scientists chart the shape of the land to understand the connection between landscape and life? Students learn about the ways different parts of the landscape offer a variety of territories for plants and animals. Then, students will have the chance to read and create their own topographic maps and witness firsthand how the shape of the Earth’s features creates distinct living spaces for a diverse array of living creatures. Understanding these landscapes is crucial for appreciating the delicate balance that sustains life in this world.

Astronomy School Program - Sky Tellers
NGSS: 3-ESS2-1, History-Social Science Standards: 3.2.1, 4.2.1
PLEASE NOTE – THE PLANETARIUM WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER APRIL 5

Explore the mysteries of our Universe with Sky Tellers! Ten Native American myths and legends investigate the reason for day and night, why we have seasons, the origin of the stars and other wondrous phenomena of our night sky. Each narrative is accompanied by the story that scientists tell today. This program will be followed by a brief tour of the Space Sciences Hall, revisiting the themes in the Sky Tellers! Planetarium program

Astronomy programs will be modified after April 5 and will NOT include a Planetarium presentation – see details below.

Beginning April 10th, 2024

Explore the mysteries of our Universe with Sky Tellers! One of our awesome astronomy presenters tells ten Native American myths and legends that investigate the reasons for day and night, for our seasons, the origin of the stars and other wondrous phenomena of our night sky. Each narrative is accompanied by the story that scientists tell today. Students will listen to these stories in the Chumash Hall at the museum, immersing themselves in the history and culture of Santa Barbara’s first peoples.

Magical Museum Tour - Beautiful Inside and Out
NGSS: 4-LS1-1

On this tour, students will search the Museum for evidence of the “hidden” aspects of plants and animals that help them live well in their habitats. Students work together to find and identify animal traits—some on the outside, some inside—that help them survive, eat well, and reproduce in their natural environments.

Fifth Grade:

Museum Backyard Program – Balance and Beyond: The Dynamic World of Energy, Biodiversity, and Ecosystems
NGSS: 5-LS2-1, 5-PS3-1

Students learn about the essential function of all living organisms within an ecosystem by participating in an interactive game of energy exchange. They gain a deeper understanding of the producers, consumers, and decomposers dependent on solar energy within this web of life. Then, students will apply what they have learned by experimenting with the stability of an oak woodland ecosystem. Working together to shuffle key biodiversity players, students will strive to maintain a balanced ecosystem, all while adapting to an introduced invader.

Magical Museum Tour – Keeping It All in Balance: Forces Affecting the Food Webs
NGSS: 5-PS3-1

All living things are connected, and precious but fragile living communities are essential to the health of everything that lives within them—and across the planet. Students will explore the different animal groups and ecosystems in our Museum to find how energy connects the lives of plants and animals in various habitats, and they will learn how breaking these connections by losing a single member of an ecosystem can threaten the whole community.

Two-hour 5th–12th Grade Programs

Champions for Change: Environmental Stewards Unite!
NGSS: 5-ESS3-1
NGSS: MS-ESS3-3
NGSS: HS-L S2-7, HS-ESS3-5

NOTE: This is a two-hour dedicated environmental science and stewardship program held only on Mondays from 10:00 AM to Noon. This program does not include a Magical Museum Tour.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about how to be good environmental stewards by understanding their own impact on the environment in which they live in. They will learn how Indigenous people have been stewards to the earth and how we can use this knowledge to help prevent and solve climate change issues. Students will have the opportunity to do real community science to observe and document non-native species near or on the museum campus.

Astronomy School Program – Astro Tuesdays
NGSS: 5-ESS1-2

NOTE: This is a two-hour dedicated astronomy school program held only on Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon. This program does not include a Magical Museum Tour.

PLEASE NOTE – THE PLANETARIUM WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER APRIL 5

This program includes a full-dome planetarium show about the Earth, Moon, Sun system and how it has influenced life on Earth. Learn about tides, the phases of the Moon, seasons and see eclipses. We’ll also use kinesthetic modeling to learn more about seasons and seasonal constellations, as well as day and night, and sky motions of the sun, moon, stars and planets. And students finish in our own Palmer Observatory, getting an up-close-and-personal look at our powerful Museum telescopes and, weather permitting, a (safe) live look at the surface of the sun.

Astronomy programs will be modified after April 5 and will NOT include a Planetarium presentation – see details below.

Beginning April 8th, 2024

We’ll use kinesthetic modeling to learn about seasons and seasonal constellations by stepping into the solar system ourselves. We’ll explore the reason we have day and night, and then look closer to get a detailed understanding of the ways that the sun, moon, stars and planets move—and appear to move—in relation to one another. And students finish in our own Palmer Observatory, getting an up-close-and-personal look at our powerful Museum telescopes and, weather permitting, a (safe) live look at the surface of the sun.