Forget the Box. Think OUTSIDE!
Marin County is known for its sprawling, luscious lands, trails, redwoods, native plants, coastal regions and much, much more. Taking our students outside to discover local phenomena, investigate real world dilemmas and experience science that is meaningful and relevent to them is powerful. Connecting what is being learned in the classroom to a field trip even more so. Here are resources to help us all "forget the box" and "think outside!"
Grades 3-5 Water Conservation Walk:
Join us on a walking tour of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed and learn about ecology, water supply and water conservation. This field trip is designed to teach students about the source and use of their water while inspiring them to take action to conserve this precious resource. A typical Water Walk field trip covers approximately 1.5 miles of fairly flat terrain and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. A classroom visit prior to or following the field trip is encouraged. We can accommodate up to 30 students per trip; a minimum of 15 students is required. Please note: The Water Conservation Walks are not offered during the winter months of November-February. To reserve a Water Conservation Walk, click here to complete the online form. For additional information call 415-945-1458.
Grades 3-5 Watershed Ecology & Restoration:
Bring your students outdoors to the beautiful Mt. Tamalpais Watershed to gain an appreciation for this unique natural environment. Our 3-hour field trip offers a hands-on, place-based learning experience through direct participation in habitat restoration. Students also enjoy high-energy ecology games and receive an introduction to our water’s path from “watershed to tap.” A classroom visit prior to the field trip date prepares participants for the field day and allows for discussion around ecology, restoration and watersheds. We can accommodate up to 30 students per trip. To reserve a Watershed Ecology & Restoration field trip, click here to complete the online form. For additional information call 415-945-1128.
To learn more about our Watershed Ecology & Restoration field trips, click here to watch the video.
Grades 10-12 Field Science & Restoration:
Through stewardship, students learn about the ecology of our local watershed and forests, as well as water conservation and supply, while contributing to meaningful scientific research. Our high school trips include an introduction to the ecology of the watershed, a quantitative field biology lesson on biodiversity and a habitat restoration component. In addition to the 3-hour field trip, our staff makes a classroom visit to prep the students and to give a lesson on ecology and watersheds. We can accommodate up to 30 students per trip. To reserve a Field Science & Restoration field trip, click here to complete the online form. For additional information call 415-945-1128.
For all field trips, school is responsible for providing transportation to and from the watershed location, unless school applies for and receives a school bus reimbursement.
School Bus Reimbursements
MMWD will reimburse transportation costs, up to $500, to schools that book an MMWD-guided field trip to visit the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. A limited number of reimbursements are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Schools may reserve reimbursement funds after scheduling a field trip. For additional information, call 415-945-1458 or email our School Program.
The One Tam Youth Initiative engages, empowers, and educates young people while providing critical support for the lands of Mt. Tam. Using the mountain as a diverse and expansive classroom, young stewards restore high-priority native habitat, learn about the importance of public lands, develop valuable leadership skills, and create lasting connections to this special place. Programs are designed to deliver meaningful experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
A New Generation of Stewards
Started in Spring of 2015, the Youth Initiative coordinates the array of existing youth programs offered by TLC partners, tailors programs to Mt. Tam lands, expands participation by diverse audiences, and nurtures new collaborations with local community groups and schools. It offers numerous pathways for young people to participate in programs that build on each other, providing opportunities for ongoing engagement over time. The goal is to provide successive volunteer, internship, and job opportunities through college. Among the programs in the Youth Initiative are LINC on Tam, an immersive summer high school program; Schools on the Watershed, which provides school-year, environmental education opportunities for Marin elementary, middle and high schools; and service-learning programs for youth groups and after school programs.
To learn more about youth programs on Mt. Tam, contact Grecia Solis Pacheco, Youth & Education Programs Manager or visit the One Tam Website.
State Parks: Angel Island, China Camp, Marconi, Mt. Tam, Olompali, Samuel P Taylor, Tomales Bay
Angel Island State Park offers the following guided tours when staff and volunteers are available:
- Camp Reynolds – Take a guided tour of Camp Reynolds (aka West Garrison), see some of the oldest buildings on Angel Island and learn about the life of a soldier during the late 1800s! Tour includes the Civil War era Bake House and Quarters 10, a Victorian era Officer’s home (with an optional cannon firing!). Tour capacity is 5-40 people, length is about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Appropriate for 4th grade and up. It is about a 40 minute walk one way (2 miles) to this site from Ayala Cove.
- Ft. McDowell (aka East Garrison) – Tour the Ft. McDowell Chapel and Guard House (aka Visitor Center) of this WWI and WWII Army base, and learn about the varied military history of Angel Island. Tour capacity is 5-40 people. Tour length is about 1 hour. Appropriate for 4th grade and up. It is about a 45-50 minute walk one way (2 1Ž2 miles) to this site from Ayala Cove.
- Hike – Take a guided hike to Mt. Livermore, the top of Angel Island, or explore the trails. Learn about the natural and cultural history of the Island and the Bay Area. Tour capacity, length, and appropriateness depend on the trail and the ability of the group and hike leader. If you have a specific area of interest, please note at the time you make your reservation.
- Bike – Visit a historical site, or bike all the way around the Park with a guide! Learn about the natural and cultural history of the island and the Bay Area. Tour capacity, length, and appropriateness depend on the route and the ability of the group and bike leader. If you have a specific area of interest, please note at the time you make your reservation.
- U.S. Immigration Station – Today the U.S. Immigration Station serves as a house museum dedicated to interpreting and making connections between the experiences of those who made the journey to America over 100 years ago and the continuing story of immigration in America today. In operation from 1910-1940, the Station served as the main immigration processing center for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all over the world looking to start a new life in America. Visit the U.S. Immigration Station tour page for details.
- Explorer’s Tour – Learn how Angel Island got its name, and about the first Spanish explorers to enter the San Francisco Bay. Each student will get to draw their own map of the island. Tour capacity is 5-40 people. Tour length is about 45 minutes. Appropriate for K-4th graders. This tour is offered in Ayala Cove.
Please contact the Angel Island State Park Tour Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 435-5537 for additional information
SCHOOL GROUPS (K-12) may be eligible for a reduced rate for ferry tickets and guided tours
Tours and Field Trips - If you are interested in scheduling a group tour or a field trip please contact the China Camp Ranger Office at (415) 456-0766. Docents are available to give China Camp history program and to interpret the natural features of the park.
Hike, explore, wildlife watch!
Located just off of the 101 in Novato, this park has a large boulder called the “Kitchen Rock.” The Coast Miwok used this as a mortar where they ground acorns and seeds into a fine flour for food preparation.
Explore the majestic redwoods along Lagunitas Creek, watch salmon spawn, and hike to the top of Barnabe Peak, a majestic viewpoint!
There is a lot of rich history within this State Park. The Coast Miwok people were the first to inhabit this coastal area of Tomales Bay State Park. Sir Francis Drake was the first explorer to arrive in Tomales Bay in 1579, followed by the Spanish in 1595. Russian and German scientist exploration occurred in the early 1800s. Then, in the 1940s real estate developers purchased large areas of beachfront land which prompted local residents and conservation groups to save this area as a park. In 1952, Tomales Bay State Park was formally dedicated and opened.
YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN MARIN COUNTY PARKS - Made possible by the Breathe/Respira & Marin County Community Grants, Measure A
OPPORTUNITY: The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) has expanded our outdoor youth environmental education and community science program in Marin County Open Space and Parks in Fall 2018-Spring 2019 by adding seven more field trips for grades 4th-12th!
All schools are encouraged to apply, and classes don’t have to be science-based to participate. Transportation funding available for buses and reimbursement for parent drivers.
CURRICULUM & FIELDTRIP DESIGN
EAC’s curriculum is guide-led and is designed to teach 10-20 students to:
- sharpen their observation techniques
- recognize different habitats in geographic areas
- learn how to use iNaturalist app to capture observations of plants and animals using smart phones or iPads (EAC can supply if necessary)
- and work in small teams to collect observations.
Field trips are held in one of three Marin County Parks (Roy’s Redwoods, Bolinas Lagoon, and Agate Beach) and activities are curated for each location based on advance site visits and focus on three distinct West Marin habitats (riparian, coastal/wetlands and terrestrial). Each outing provides first-hand experiences with nature and community science techniques using technology (iNaturalist app/smartphones/iPads) to record their plant and animal sightings. Following the field trip, EAC reaches out to the teachers and provides them with the results of their biodiversity blitz findings and other information. A post survey is also distributed at that time to see how the students responded to the program.
Students begin the field trip near the open meadow where we spend time discussing observation techniques, the different trees surrounding the meadow, the types of plants and animals that would be found in the edge habitat. Following the exploration of the meadow, the group moves into the redwood and riparian habitat to learn about redwood ecology. The group breaks for lunch and team building exercises. Finally, following lunch, the students move up into the hillsides to understand hillside and edge ecology. The students focus on the different trees and birds observed on the hillsides prior to returning to the bus.
Students begin the field trip at the parking lot at Agate Beach where we pause to talk about proper tide pool etiquette, safety, and the special status of Agate Beach and Duxbury Reef Marine Protected Area. Then the group descends to the tide pools and breaks into teams no more than five people and explores the reef habitat logging observations into iNaturalist with a field trip leader. Following the tide pools the group breaks for lunch on the beach and team building activities. Finally, the students will move up hillside and spend time tracking animals and learning how to identify signs and tracks from animals. The students will log additional observations of plants and animal observations along the trails above the parking lot before returning to the bus.
Students begin the field trip along the pathway of the rich riparian corridor near Pine Gulch Creek. Near the creek bank, the students will break into small groups and begin searching for animal signs from skunks, raccoons, river otters, birds, and wood rats. Following the exploration of the riparian corridor, the students moves into the marsh where they will explore and document observations on the marsh plants and animals. Following the marsh exploration, the group will break for lunch and team building exercises. Finally, the students will explore the Bolinas Lagoon marsh habitat and learn about the history and conservation of Bolinas Lagoon. The students will finish the afternoon walking back along the trails collecting observations of seasonal plants and animals in iNaturalist.
Marine Mammal Center: DIVE IN! Come explore with The Marine Mammal Center:
The Marine Mammal Center is a wonderful field trip destination for students of all ages! Enhance your curriculum with an interactive school tour of our hospital. Our guided tours focus on the Center's mission and work including topics such as what we feed our patients to how we diagnose diseases. All of our school programs align with the Next Generation Science Standards.
- School Programs are offered Monday – Friday (except Tuesdays) from 10:00am until 4:00pm
- The species and amount of patients we have on site change daily. Our busiest patient months are March - June and our slowest patient months are November - February. Please check the Current Patients page of our web site for the most up to date information about our patients.
- 20 participants (including chaperones) for Kindergarten age groups
- 35 participants (including chaperones) for 1st grade through 12th grade groups
- 15 participants (including chaperones) for the add-on Behind the Scenes tour!
Note around fees: Payment is due one month before your scheduled field trip date (All prices are subject to change without notice.)
Reservation Information: Read the description of the guided school tours below.
Please note: Colleges interested in taking a program should visit the College Tours page.
MARINE MAMMAL CENTER TOURS:
PATIENT ROUNDS (K-5):
From fish milkshakes to ocean trash, students learn about how we care for patients at our hospital and how we can all help their ocean home. Simulated rescue and rehabilitation demonstrations bring the Center's animal care functions to life. Students will explore specimens to learn the difference between seals and sea lions. Observing our patients will evoke compassion in students and inspire them to help protect our ocean environment. 45 Minutes, $185
MARINE SCIENCE CAREERS (6-12):
Do you have what it takes to work at the world’s largest marine mammal hospital? Come see our patients and learn about all the different jobs required to help care for them. Through patient case studies, students will discover that it takes a whole team with many different skills to rescue, rehabilitate, release, research and educate about marine mammals. You’ll discover exciting opportunities for teens at TMMC and maybe even find your future career! 45 Minutes, $185
DIAGNOSING DISEASES (6-12):
Take a journey through the body systems of a marine mammal, while touring the hospital! Students focus on a variety of organs and analyzing actual veterinary test results from our patients. From blood slides to scope exams, student scientists get a real look at how we diagnose disease in these amazing animals. This in-depth investigation of marine mammal health is recommended for groups that have previously visited the Marine Mammal Center and/or have studied directly related content in class. 45 Minutes, $185
GO BEHIND THE SCENES!* (9-12):
Add this exciting option only available for small groups of high school students onto your Marine Science Careers or Diagnosing Diseases tour. Students will have a unique opportunity to expand their understanding of marine mammals through a look at some of the unique case studies treated at our hospital. Take a peek behind-the-scenes at our harbor seal hospital, life support systems and patient treatment areas while exploring the unique injuries and illness treated here using cutting-edge research and technology.
*This option is an add on to a tour and cannot be booked separately.
**If your party is more than 15 people, please email email@example.com for bookings.
Science at the Seashore
Hands-On Science Education Programs for Middle & High School Students
Teachers may schedule one of three experiential field programs led by Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) staff. One day Science at the Seashore programs are also available to teachers who have not reserved the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center.
- Giacomini Wetlands Field Study - Students practice water quality monitoring, aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling and shorebird surveys to understand wetland ecology and restoration. Contact PRNSA to make a reservation.
- LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program & Experiential Training) - Students are trained to survey the distribution and abundance of the Pacific Mole Crab (Emerita analoga) on Limantour Beach. Contact PRNSA to make a reservation.
- Marine Debris Action Team - Students conduct plastic pollution density studies on local beaches using National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration scientific protocol. Contact PRNSA to make a reservation.