Education Programs and Partners

The Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans Virtual Field Trips are designed as individual
45-90 minute classes carefully crafted for your audience: elementary, middle or high school students. Optional preparatory materials, including videos, are available for teachers to share with their students. Our program offers virtual getaways taught by experienced teachers and designed to inform and ignite inquisitive minds. (In person Field Trips will be added when COVID-19 Guidelines permit.)

Our Virtual Field Trips begin with our moderator introducing the instructor and describing their often-surprising career paths. Each live, interactive program, introduces an area of science that is depicted on THE MAP and approaches the topic in a fun and engaging way.

For the past year, we have partnered with non-profits, ArtsBusXpress to teach classes for schools in San Diego County, and with AltaSea to provide classes and Summer School enrichment programs for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. These Virtual Field Trips aim to present science in an easy-to-understand way that sparks curiosity and inspires students to become good stewards of their ocean environment.

THE MAP of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla, the largest LithoMosaic in the world, is open to the public, and is a beautiful hands-on extension of our Virtual Field Trips.

ES Elementary School // MS Middle School // HS High School
(also offered in collaboration with ArtsBusXpress & AltaSea)

The foundation is excited to offer teachers three ways to bring THE MAP to your classroom. We are now offering in-person field trips to THE MAP in La Jolla Shores, in-person presentations in the classroom (for San Diego County school), or virtual field trips. We look forward to welcoming students and groups of all ages to THE MAP! Email us today to schedule a field trip to THE MAP that can be designed with your group’s needs in mind. We are proud to partner with ArtsBusXpress to offer grant-supported transportation for local schools to visit THE MAP in person this year.

Join us as we take your class on a Field Trip, beginning with THE MAP of the Grand Canyons of La Jolla, the world’s largest LithoMosaic educational plaza, featuring 123 life-sized species found just offshore. Discover how Marine Protected Areas help restore the productivity of the oceans’ marine life, how marine mammals are adapting to climate changes, how plastic pollution impacts the ocean and all living creatures, which species call our local tidepools home and how we can help preserve them, why whales and sharks are important to the ecosystem, and get a diver’s view of the underwater world. Or let us know how we can customize a class to meet your needs. Every class is designed to meet grade level common core and next generation science standards.

To schedule a class or field trip, email [email protected], or contact Shawna Weaver, PhD, director of education at [email protected] or
(218) 340-2585.

Photo: Shawna Weaver

Photo: Shawna Weaver

Photo: Caitlyn Webster

Seals In Shifting Seas
Curricula Grade Levels: MS, HS

How is climate change affecting seals in our kelp forests and their cousins in the Arctic Circle? Together, we discover how local harbor seals use their sandy beach habitats to lounge in the sun, give birth and nurse their young. We discuss why the seas are warming, both here and for ice-loving harp seals in the north, and how this disrupts age-old rhythms for many of the seal species. We compare and contrast resulting challenges and surprising adaptations, followed by a discussion about the possible outcomes of climate change on the future of these seals.

Squish, splash, squirt…unlocking intertidal mysteries.
Curricula Grade Levels: ES, MS

Let’s investigate the tidepool universe! This getaway introduces students to the challenges of life in a tiny, yet extreme, tide-pool universe. Learn about dynamic intertidal zones including the best times and tides to visit local tidepools. Meet the diverse cast of characters known as marine invertebrates and discover how and why they are divided into taxonomic groups. Students can participate in a follow-up scavenger hunt featuring creatures found on THE MAP, either in-person or on our interactive website.

Photo: Paula Selby

Photo: Cynthia Matzke

Hunters of the Kelp Forest…and Beyond
Grades: ES, MS, HS

Top predators like orcas, sharks, sea lions and sea otters give us important clues to ocean health…if you know where to look. We follow exciting research that studies different predator-prey interactions, exploring how these dynamic exchanges occur. The food web is complex. Together we will see how scientists and lawmakers use new computer modeling programs that work a lot like a video game, to understand how decisions are made and how they affect fish populations around the world.

Meet California’s Marine Mammals
Curricula Grade Levels: ES, MS

Dive into the undersea realm of big, bold, beautiful breath-holders. From sassy sea lions that bark incessantly, to the majestic whales that sing and click as they pass our shores, La Jolla provides the perfect venue for viewing many species of ocean-dwelling mammals brimming with personality. Students consider various mammalian adaptations to life in the sea including echolocation and acoustic communication, and hear the jaw-dropping tales of the California gray whales.

Photo: Howard Hall

Photo: Howard Hall

A Diver’s View of the Underwater World
Curricula Grade Levels: ES, MS, HS

Something transformative happens when a diver dons a mask, snorkel and fins to enter the ocean realm. This virtually-immersive class teaches students about the basic equipment and skills needed to experience the world beneath the waves. Basic concepts in the physics and physiology behind diving are explained as well as steps involved in becoming a citizen scientist or a scientific researcher. New technologies like rebreathers that allow humans to go deeper and stay down longer than ever before will be introduced. A new VR program will take students on a virtual scuba dive in the kelp forest to inspire further undersea exploration and discovery. For elementary students, we will also talk about snorkeling.

The Value of a Whale

Grades: ES, MS, HS

What is a Whale Really Worth? In a complicated world where species stand on the edge of extinction, how do we calculate their value to us? In this field trip students will experience how intertwined our survival is to other living creatures. Systems thinking will be used to see the interconnections among diverse species in the ocean. Students will learn to use science to quantify the value of a whale, which will enable them to speak to community leaders to enact change.

Photo: Howard Hall

Photo: National Geographic

Sailing a Sea of Synthetic Debris

Grades: MS, HS

Imagine sailing, surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or diving through plastic garbage. As the plastic problem grows in our oceans, so too does the need for our awareness to grow. Students will learn about the plastic gyres in the ocean, the problems plastic causes for marine life, and ways to help stop this problem from growing bigger. Students will be empowered to create solutions that they can do in their own communities.

A Deep Dive into Marine Protected Areas

Grades: ES, MS, HS

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) exist around the world to protect some of our oceans’ most vulnerable and biodiverse places. San Diego is home to MPAs where marine mammals, tide pool creatures, kelp forests, and marshland animals have a chance to thrive. Join us to learn more about MPAs and how to enjoy these protected areas.

Photo:Howard Hall

Photo: Thomas A. Blackman

For Grades 4-6: Three-Session Course – Marine Mammals of Southern California

Grades: 4th-6th

This special three-session course takes students on a deep dive into the lives of our Southern California Marine Mammals! While each stand-alone field trip offered above meets common core standards and offers a wonderful introduction to the topic, this special three-session course provides a more in-depth understanding of our Southern California Marine Mammals. The first class is an introduction to marine mammals, who they are, and how they evolved. Our second class is all about seals and sea lions, our changing ocean climate, and what we can do to help marine mammals survive and thrive in Southern California. Our third class is about mysterious whales! Students will learn about whale migration patterns, how the largest animals on the planet live in all the world’s oceans communicating through complex and beautiful sounds, and how they interact with one another and other cetaceans. Imagine life as a marine mammal through movement exercises, sounds, videos, and stories presented throughout the classes. Asynchronous activities are available for teachers to prepare students for each class and provide follow-up opportunities. (This three-session course must be completed within a three-week timeframe.)