Youth Education

We empower students to take proactive, solution-focused conservation action.

Through a continuum of programs for students from pre-K through college, and a lens of environmental justice, we help young people realize that they are very much a part of, and not apart from, nature. The National Aquarium is an educational partner that works with students, families, schools and communities to build skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEAM), spur conservation action, lay the groundwork for college and careers, and inspire the next generation of ocean conservationists.

On-Site Programs

A visit to the National Aquarium is an educational experience, immersing guests of all ages in habitats from around the world and letting them come face to face with amphibians, birds, fishes, invertebrates and reptiles. The Aquarium also offers a range of formal, science-based conservation education programs on-site for students of all ages—including field trips and school groups, homeschool visits, What Lives in the Harbor, the youth exhibit guide program, the Henry Hall Fellowship and college internships.

The National Aquarium engages sixth-grade students from Baltimore City Public Schools in researching aquatic species that live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Students test water quality in the Inner Harbor outside the Aquarium to form hypotheses about what Chesapeake Bay animals live there; they then test their hypotheses by conducting an animal survey. After the investigation, students recommend community action projects to improve the local watershed.

Local high school students can spend a summer volunteering with our staff and in our exhibits, sharing in the Aquarium's unique mission and magic. Participants increase their knowledge of marine environments, assist in enhancing guests' experiences, learn from our expert staff and meet people from all over the world.

The Henry Hall Fellowship—formerly known as Aquarium on Wheels—is a rigorous, four-year program designed to honor and extend the legacy of engineer, world traveler, aquarist and philanthropist Henry Hall (1896–1979) by mentoring and fostering the next generation of Baltimore City's leaders and changemakers.

Internships at the National Aquarium provide stimulating, hands-on work experiences that add value to any college education. Applying classroom knowledge, interns gain valuable experience and establish professional contacts. College internship positions are available year-round (coinciding with academic semesters) in departments throughout the Aquarium, including Animal Care and Welfare, Animal Health, Conservation, Education, Marketing and Philanthropy.

Off-Site Programs

The Aquarium's on-site conservation education programs are complemented by off-site experiences such as AquaPartners, Henry Hall Summer Camps, Henry Hall Scholarships and Terrapins in the Classroom.

AquaPartners is a standards-based, cross-curricular Chesapeake Bay program for third, fourth and fifth graders, open to any public or private school within one hour's travel time from the National Aquarium. AquaPartners features in-school programs, hands-on lab investigations and field experiences in local ecosystems. All activities and materials align with Maryland's statewide curriculum.

In August 1982, the Aquarium established the Henry Hall Endowment Fund to provide free educational opportunities for students who attend or are graduates of Baltimore City Public Schools. The program provides exciting excursions and educational and career opportunities for students interested in marine and environmental science. It also offers paid internships for college students and provides one-year, $1,000 scholarships for studies in biology, engineering, environmental science and aquatic science.

Terrapins in the Classroom program brings Maryland students face to face with the state reptile, the diamondback terrapin. Hatchling terrapins from Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay are provided to schools throughout Maryland for students to observe and study for one academic year. During the turtle's stay, students collect growth data, observe behaviors, learn animal care techniques and research the natural history of the species. At the end of the school year, students take a field trip to Poplar Island to release the terrapins back into their natural habitat. The combination of scientific application, hands-on involvement and emotional attachment to the terrapins creates an unprecedented opportunity to inspire a meaningful connection with the Chesapeake Bay and its inhabitants.

Read to Reef

The National Aquarium is proud to partner with the Enoch Pratt Free Library to offer the Read to Reef book club, which encourages children to read and grants free Aquarium admission to participating families through their local library branches. By connecting Baltimore youth to the aquatic world through reading, the Aquarium encourages children to learn about animals, plants, habitats and our critical responsibility to protect the planet

Support the National Aquarium Together, we can change the way humanity cares for our ocean planet.