2022 Grants Challenge

STEAM Educational Opportunities

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium provides a variety of fun and educationally robust programs that inspire students of all ages to explore, respect and conserve the ocean environment. The Aquarium charges no general admission fee and provides a wide variety of programs at little to no cost to ensure that the Aquarium remains accessible to all who wish to learn. LA2050 Grant funds will support our education and outreach programs designed to engage all ages with our wet-hands-and-sandy-feet approach.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

Other:: We have visitors from all over the United States as well as some international visitors.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In a 2017 study by the University of California, Berkely, teachers said they spend less than an hour a week on STEM education. Less than half of principals say they believe their schools are adequately prepared to meet state science standards. Meanwhile, the public is inundated with depressing doomsday messages about climate change and the environment. Our programs make science come alive for students of all ages and bring fun and excitement back to ocean conservation. For example, a lesson by our Ocean Outreach staff gives students the opportunity to learn about and interact with live ocean animals at school. Many of our student visitors tell us they’ve never been to the beach before their field trip to Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Our goal is to pique their interest with programs that meet state science standards and then lure them back (with their parents) so they can take a deeper dive if they so desire.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

We are seeking funding to support our outreach and education programs, which include: Ocean Outreach--Aquariums on wheels bring hands-on marine science and environmental education to students at local schools throughout Los Angeles County, reaching up to 25,000 pre-K through 8th grade students annually. School Tours: Free docent-led tours give students an opportunity to experience ocean animals up-close and are available to schoolchildren in Southern California with an emphasis on students from economically disadvantaged communities. Spring Outdoor Classroom: Every day for nine weeks, 1,000 schoolchildren come to the Aquarium to experience the wonders of marine science and the seashore through education stations set up on the beach. Sea Search Marine Biology Workshops: Offered year-round, these workshops are tailored to the age and needs of the students, providing in-depth field and laboratory experiences for school groups in the coastal habitats adjacent to the Aquarium (tidepools, sandy beaches, and salt marsh) using scientific tools. Public Programs: Throughout the year, we invite the public to visit and participate in free festivals where we often feature our life-sized inflatable whales including Whale Fiesta, Earth Day and Autumn Sea Fair; themed weeks focusing on sharks and sea otters and conservation topics; and special events such as the Sea Scare Halloween celebration and our grunion runs, which attract thousands of people.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

By combining science and fun, we inspire exploration, respect and conservation of Southern California marine life. Jacques Yves Cousteau said it best, "People protect what they love." That's why we incorporate activities into all of our education and outreach programs that will help spark that love. During an ocean outreach class, children have the opportunity to touch ocean animals. During Spring Outdoor Classroom, children sit in the sand close to the ocean. During our grunion run events, families hatch grunion eggs and see fish born right before their eyes. All of our programs include our famous interactive "do-it, do-its" where people dance like a jellyfish or swim like a grunion. After participating in Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's education and outreach programs, Los Angeles County students of all ages will have a greater appreciation and respect for the ocean and will be more likely to take actions to help protect the coastal resources we all benefit from.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We measure success and impact in a variety of ways. Aquarium attendance is tracked and remains consistent, showing the demand and popularity of our programs. Many of the students who participate in our Young Scientists Program have gone on to win local, state and international science fairs. And many have gone on to pursue STEM-related careers with a few becoming highly regarded scientists. We consistently seek out and receive enthusiastic feedback from teachers and thank you notes from students, who report our programs make a positive and lasting impact. Jim De Pompei, Director of Programs, conducts on-going program evaluations. This enables us to revise and adjust programs, based on feedback and stated needs of educators. Time and time again, we have parents participate in our public programs who are excited for their children to experience the same activities that inspired them as children. All of these things combined show us we are making an impact.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 80,000

Indirect Impact: 300,000