Field trips

photo by: Centrum / David Conklin

With the Salish Sea outside its doors, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center provides unique, hands-on experiences for students of all ages.

I value every bit of what we do with our time at PTMSC. Instead of working from a book or a kit, the students are working with their natural, local environment, with relevant and meaningful activities.

Local 5th grade teacher

Schedule a tour of our exhibits, a day of classes, or a multi-day program! All our classes for students support Next Gen Science Standards and ocean literacy.

General information

Exhibit tours
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the Aquarium and Museum with staff and volunteers, spending 30 minutes in each exhibit
    • Please note: due to planned work, the Aquarium will be closed from November 27 – May 31
    • During that time, the Museum is available for tours at a reduced cost
  • Appropriate for all ages
  • $10/person (if the Aquarium is not available due to maintenance, the cost will be $5/person)
  • 10 person / $100 minimum
  • If taking a class as well, the cost of exhibit tours is included in the class cost
  • Groups larger than 20 will be broken into smaller groups and will visit the exhibits in rotation
  • Regular season cost (September 1 – March 31) – $230
  • Peak season cost (April 1 – August 31) – $300
  • Some classes have an additional lab fee, listed in the class description
  • If time is available, exhibit tours are included in the cost of the class(es)
  • Prices are subject to change without notice
  • The appropriate grade-level range is provided below for each class, and can be further tailored for the specific grade level of your students
  • Maximum class size – 26 students and 4 chaperones
    • We are able to accommodate two classes at a time
  • Class length – 90 minutes (can be shortened for younger grades)
  • Scholarships are available. See the Financial Aid page for more information
Health & safety
  • Masks are optional
  • All staff and volunteers are vaccinated
  • PTMSC follows the health and safety guidelines of the CDC

Please request your program at least 4 weeks in advance. With less than 4 weeks notice, please contact us first to see if we can accommodate your request.

For questions, further details, or help scheduling a program, contact Gabriele Sanchez, 360-385-5582 x120,

2023-2024 classes

Class descriptions are below, in alphabetical order.

Exhibit Tours (Museum is available for tours Nov 27 – May 31; Aquarium closed) oooo
Beach Investigationoooo
Birds of Shore and Seaoo
Plankton Lab
(available March – October)
Plastics in the Marine Environmentoo
Gray Whaleoo
Introduction to Marine Mammalsoo

Class descriptions

Beach Investigation

Kindergarten and up

Explore the wonders of the beach! Students walk to a nearby beach to investigate the rocky shore at low tide. By turning over rocks or lifting algae, students discover the interconnected web of life and compare organisms found low and high on the beach. Students are able to hone their identification skills, and walk away with a greater appreciation for the Salish Sea coastal environment and its inhabitants.

This class is dependent on and scheduled to coincide with low tides (call for optimal dates and times).

Birds of Shore and Sea

Grades 3-5

Fly, walk, swim! They do it all! Students participate in an entertaining simulation of bird adaptations and work with prepared study skins of local marine birds. Students discover ways these birds are adapted to life in the marine environment, both in body design and behavior. Weather permitting, students use binoculars to observe marine birds in the wild.

Gray Whale

Grades 5-12

This quiet, beautiful creature, commonly found in the waters of the Salish Sea, is the focus of this fun, interactive class! Students learn about the biology of the gray whale and its adaptations to live in the water as they assemble the complete skeleton of a juvenile gray whale. Students learn about the gray whale’s life cycle, natural history, feeding behavior and migration route north and south along our coast. Older students reflect on functional anatomy and relate the skeletal structure to the animal’s muscular attachments and movements, and if time permits, compare it to an adult, female orca skeleton in our Museum.

Introduction to Marine Mammals

Grades 5-12

Whales, seals, sea lions, and more! The variety of marine mammals in the Salish Sea is extensive. Students define characteristics of mammals, and then further investigate marine mammal adaptations with the assistance of visuals such as photos, videos, bones, and pelts. Working in small groups, participants examine, make observations and sketch multiple marine mammal skulls.

Plankton Lab

Grades 3-12

Discover the basis of marine food webs swimming in a drop of water. Students collect plankton and use microscopes to identify and draw different types of plankton in their sample. Discussions touch on the role of plankton in the marine food web, adaptations, distribution worldwide, and the chemistry of plankton growth in the Salish Sea.

Plankton Lab is available March through October.

Plastics in the Marine Environment

Grades 5-12

Students investigate the impact of marine debris by examining specimens from an affected species, the Laysan albatross. After reviewing how the animal’s life history and movement patterns make it vulnerable to marine debris, students use a timeline activity to better understand the effect that specific items and materials are having on the environment. Finally, students brainstorm ways that individuals and communities can address this problem, and specific local examples are provided. If time and weather allow, a beach walk to collect marine debris can be added on.

For questions, further details, or help scheduling a program, contact Gabriele Sanchez, 360-385-5582 x120,

Please request your program at least 4 weeks in advance. Anything with less than 4 weeks notice, please contact Gabriele first to see if we can accommodate your request.

Additional education opportunities

Water World

This 5-day residential program for 5th and 6th graders is a dynamic collaboration between Centrum and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Water World is filled with activities and projects that expand and enhance students’ experiences in the marine world through the lenses of both science and art. Please visit Centrum’s Water World page for more details.

Joint programming with the Northwest Maritime Center and Sound Experience

Partnerships with Sound Experience and the Northwest Maritime Center provide opportunities to fully engage students with our rich regional resources in a captivating and rigorous learning environment. Contact Carolyn Woods for more information: or (360) 385-5582 x 109.

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