The Natural History Museum is now open. View our COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for more information.

An Ocean Experience

mobile museum ocean experience kids in bus NHM programs

Students become marine biologists, taking a simulated dive off of Southern California and experiencing the diversity of life in our local coast.

Middle school students will become passengers through time as they analyze fossils to uncover what the L.A. Basin was like millions of years ago. (Hint: We would need a wetsuit!)

High school students take on the responsibility of a museum scientist to understand evolutionary relationships. Students manage their own collection to learn about the vastness of unidentified species in the ocean and scientist roles in discovering them.

Mobile Museum: An Ocean Experience was formerly known as the Seamobile.

Program Overview

The Mobile Museum: An Ocean Experience program is a two-part 90-minute program for students in grades 6-12.

Dependent on school bell schedule, this program can be divided into two 45-minute periods.

The program is facilitated by three Educators who work with students in the Mobile Museum and  a school provided classroom (Museum Lab).

Students act as marine scientists and take a simulated dive off the coast of Southern California to discover the diversity of life in our local coast and conduct research in a Museum Lab.

Program Objectives

  • To discuss marine research and exploration, and experience what it’s like to be a scientist working out in the field.

  • To communicate, collaborate, develop questions, think critically, gather evidence from museum collections to draw conclusions. 

  • To observe and learn about Southern California marine animals and habitats using collection specimens.

  • To interpret organismal characteristics using comparative biology and paleontology.


Mobile Museum, 50 ft. Tractor Trailer

This portion of the program is a simulation of a human-occupied submersible dive to the bottom of the San Pedro Channel. Students will assume the role of marine biologists conducting exploratory research. Using NHMLAC collections as well as outside resources, students will understand the roles of the organisms they observe.

Museum Laboratory

School-Provided Classroom

This portion of the program is a simulation of research conducted in the laboratory. Students will take on  the role of paleontologists studying the animal  history of the Los Angeles Basin through geologic time.  Students will begin by observing fossil specimens unearthed at specific locations in Southern California. Using NHMLAC collections, as well as outside resources, students will use comparative analysis to infer what the ecosystem was like when these animals were living. 

Curricular Materials


Watch the Ocean Experience and the Meet the Scientists introduction videos with your students prior to the Mobile Museum residency at your school. These videos will give students the mission they will have while onboard the simulated submersible and will introduce students to the museum scientists that they will help during their mission. 


Following the Mobile Museum residency at your school, watch the Ocean Experience conclusion video. This video will help your students synthesize information about what they observed during their mission onboard the simulated submersible. Watch this video following our residency to see a concluding message from NHMLAC scientists!