Students in the Discovery Lab at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Our inquiry-based curriculum is designed to motivate and engage your students and support the California State and National Science Education Standards through classroom or field experiences. Select curriculum by grade level or by activity name.

California and many other states have officially adopted Next Generation Science Standards. Released in April 2013 and welcomed by the science education community, these voluntary standards integrate three important dimensions: science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts. They effectively build science concepts from kindergarten through 12th grade and also incorporate important engineering concepts. We're working on correlating our materials to these new standards. Stay tuned!


Kelp Forest

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Decode a Fish

How do different fish survive in their habitats? Students use a fish body part key to "decode" a fish and infer behavior and habitat.

Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b, e
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a, f
Grade 5: 2a, b; 6a, g, h

K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Life Science

Edible Algae

What is seaweed? Why is it in ice cream? Students find out by exploring the characteristics of seaweed. They then make seaweed extract and use it to create ice cream.

Grade 3: 1e, f, g; 3a; 5a, c, e, f
Grade 4: 2a; 3a; 6b, f
Grade 5: 1g; 2f; 6a, d, f, g, i

K-4: Physical Science
5-8: Physical Science

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Rate Your Plate

Students order seafood from a mock menu and use a scoresheet based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program to gauge the sustainability of their selection.

Grades 9-12: Biology/Life Sciences 6a, b, c, d; 8b;
Earth Sciences 5d;
Investigation & Experimentation 1c, d, g, l, m

9-12: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Science and Technology, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives, History and Nature of Science

Shark Anatomy

What makes a shark a shark? Students explore shark anatomy by taking part in a debate justifying the importance of specific shark adaptations and physical characteristics.

Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5a, b
Grade 4: 3b; 4b; 6a
Grade 5: 2b, c, d; 6a

K-4: Life Science
5-8: Life Science

Additional Resources & Links

Life on the Bay

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Comparing Seals and Sea Otters

What makes sea otters and seals unique marine mammals? Students play a game with information cards to compare and review the characteristics of seals and otters.

Grade K: 1a; 2a, b, c; 4a, b, d, e
Grade 1: 2a, c; 4b, e
Grade 2: 2a; 4c, d, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Additional Resources & Links

Mission to the Deep

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Light in the Deep Sea

Students use blue film glasses to observe camouflage strategies of deep sea organisms and explore the properties of light in water.

Grade 6: 3a; 4b; 5e; 7e
Grade 7: 5a; 6a, b, e; 7c
Grade 9-12: Physics 4a, c, e, Biology/Life Sciences 6a, Investigation and Experimentation 1d, g

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Additional Resources & Links

Monterey Bay Habitats

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Decode a Fish

How do different fish survive in their habitats? Students use a fish body part key to "decode" a fish and infer behavior and habitat.

Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b, e
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a, f
Grade 5: 2a, b; 6a, g, h

K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Life Science

Disappearing Fish

How do fish protect themselves in the ocean? One adaptation is camouflage. Students make a paper fish and "camouflage" it into a magazine photo habitat.

Grade K: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 2: 2c, d; 4a, d, f, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Physical Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Rate Your Plate

Students order seafood from a mock menu and use a scoresheet based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program to gauge the sustainability of their selection.

Grades 9-12: Biology/Life Sciences 6a, b, c, d; 8b;
Earth Sciences 5d;
Investigation & Experimentation 1c, d, g, l, m

9-12: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Science and Technology, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives, History and Nature of Science

Shark Anatomy

What makes a shark a shark? Students explore shark anatomy by taking part in a debate justifying the importance of specific shark adaptations and physical characteristics.

Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5a, b
Grade 4: 3b; 4b; 6a
Grade 5: 2b, c, d; 6a

K-4: Life Science
5-8: Life Science

What's in a Name?

Using a prefix and suffix chart, students "translate" a shark's scientific name to discover its meaning and create drawings based on their findings.

Grade 6: 5d
Grade 7: 3a, d, e; 5a; 7d

5-8: Life Science, History and Nature of Science

Open Sea

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Decode a Fish

How do different fish survive in their habitats? Students use a fish body part key to "decode" a fish and infer behavior and habitat.

Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b, e
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a, f
Grade 5: 2a, b; 6a, g, h

K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Life Science

Disappearing Fish

How do fish protect themselves in the ocean? One adaptation is camouflage. Students make a paper fish and "camouflage" it into a magazine photo habitat.

Grade K: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 2: 2c, d; 4a, d, f, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Physical Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Rate Your Plate

Students order seafood from a mock menu and use a scoresheet based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program to gauge the sustainability of their selection.

Grades 9-12: Biology/Life Sciences 6a, b, c, d; 8b;
Earth Sciences 5d;
Investigation & Experimentation 1c, d, g, l, m

9-12: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Science and Technology, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives, History and Nature of Science

Shark Anatomy

What makes a shark a shark? Students explore shark anatomy by taking part in a debate justifying the importance of specific shark adaptations and physical characteristics.

Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5a, b
Grade 4: 3b; 4b; 6a
Grade 5: 2b, c, d; 6a

K-4: Life Science
5-8: Life Science

Additional Resources & Links

Rocky Shore

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Dishpan Tide Pool

What are the differences between tides and waves? Students find out by creating a model tide pool in a plastic dishpan. They then construct clay animals and experiment with water levels and waves.

Grade K: 1a; 3a; 4a, b, c, d, e
Grade 1: 1a; 2a; 4a, b, c, d
Grade 2: 1a, b; 3a; 4a, b, d, e, f, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Physical Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Shower Curtain Watershed

What affects the health of a watershed? By constructing a shower curtain model, students explore how human actions influence a watershed.

Grade 3: 3b, c; 5a, d
Grade 4: 3a; 5a, c; 6a, c, d
Grade 5: 3c, d, e; 6a, h

K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Earth and Space Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Earth and Space Science

Additional Resources & Links

Sandy Shore & Aviary

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Bird Feeding Strategies

Students use salad tongs, tweezers and other tools to discover the relationship between the shape of a bird's beak, its habitat and diet.

Grade K: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2c; 4a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Feathers as Insulation

How do birds stay warm? By experimenting with ice and baggies of feathers, students discover feathers are an important adaptation for birds.

Grade K: 1a; 2a, c; 4a, e
Grade 1: 2a; 4b, c
Grade 2: 2c; 4a, d, e, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Language in the Sand

What is hidden in the sand? Students uncover paper animals buried in a sand box and use them in a series of language art challenges.

Grade K: 1a; 2a
Grade 1: 2a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Life Science

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Shower Curtain Watershed

What affects the health of a watershed? By constructing a shower curtain model, students explore how human actions influence a watershed.

Grade 3: 3b, c; 5a, d
Grade 4: 3a; 5a, c; 6a, c, d
Grade 5: 3c, d, e; 6a, h

K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Earth and Space Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Earth and Space Science

Additional Resources & Links

Sea Otters

Activity California Standards National Standards
Be a Scientist

What are the components of an ecosystem? Students assume the roles of different scientists while collecting data at an outdoor field site or aquarium.

Grade 6: 1e, f; 2a, d; 4a; 5a, b, d; 7b, g, h
Grade 7: 4a, c, f; 5a; 7a, c, d
Grade 8: 2b; 8c, d
Grades 9-12: Chemistry 2a; 4d; 5a, d; 7d; Biology 6b, d; Earth Sciences 5d, g; 6b; 8b; 9a, c; Investigation and Experimentation 1a-n

5-8: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, History and Nature of Science
9-12: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Comparing Seals and Sea Otters

What makes sea otters and seals unique marine mammals? Students play a game with information cards to compare and review the characteristics of seals and otters.

Grade K: 1a; 2a, b, c; 4a, b, d, e
Grade 1: 2a, c; 4b, e
Grade 2: 2a; 4c, d, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Otter Puppets and Pantomime

What do sea otters do all day? Students find out by reading about sea otters then creating a paper bag puppet to learn about sea otter behavior and body parts.

Grade K: 1a; 2a, c; 4b, c, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4d

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Life Science, Science as Inquiry

Additional Resources & Links

Splash Zone & Penguins

Activity California Standards National Standards
Bird Feeding Strategies

Students use salad tongs, tweezers and other tools to discover the relationship between the shape of a bird's beak, its habitat and diet.

Grade K: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2c; 4a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science

Disappearing Fish

How do fish protect themselves in the ocean? One adaptation is camouflage. Students make a paper fish and "camouflage" it into a magazine photo habitat.

Grade K: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 2: 2c, d; 4a, d, f, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Physical Science

Estimate and Measure

How does the size of your hand compare to the size of a book or desk? Students estimate the size of various objects using non-standard measurement, such as a paper "hand" or piece of yarn.

Grade K: 1a; 4a, d
Grade 2: 4a, b, c, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry

Feathers as Insulation

How do birds stay warm? By experimenting with ice and baggies of feathers, students discover feathers are an important adaptation for birds.

Grade K: 1a; 2a, c; 4a, e
Grade 1: 2a; 4b, c
Grade 2: 2c; 4a, d, e, g

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science

Ocean Poetry

Students make observations of ocean animals and habitats in Aquarium exhibits, on web cams or in other nonfiction resources. The students then use their findings to write and illustrate poems.

Grade K: 2a, b, c; 4a, b, e
Grade 1: 2a, b, c, d; 4a, b
Grade 2: 2a, b, c, d; 4d
Grade 3: 3a, b, c, d; 5b
Grade 4: 2b; 3a, b; 6a
Grade 5: 2a, b, c, d; 6a

PreK: Head Start Framework
K-4: Science as Inquiry, Life Science
5-8: Science as Inquiry, Life Science