Ocean Experience | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Explore the San Pedro Channel on board the simulated submersible!

Request a Mobile Museum Visit

Requests for August to December 2017 are now open. 

Mobile Museum Reservation Request Form

Additional questions? E-mail mobilemuseums@nhm.org or call 213.763.3271


Mobile Museum: An Ocean Experience

Program Overview

  • The Mobile Museum: An Ocean Experience program is a two-part 90 minute program for students in grades 6, 7, 8. Dependent on school bell schedule, this program can be divided into two 45-minute periods.
  • The program is facilitated by two NHMLA educators who work with students in the field (Mobile Museum) and in the lab (classroom).
  • Students act as marine scientists and take a simulated dive off the coast of Southern California to discover the biodiversity of our local coast as well as conduct research in a simulated classroom 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 develop questions and gather evidence from museum collections to draw conclusions
  • To communicate, collaborate, think critically, and use creativity through inquiry
  • To observe southern California marine animals and habitats
  • To identify animals using field guides, collection specimens and other tools of the scientist
  • To interpret organismal characteristics using comparative biology and paleontology

Submersible (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 scientists conducting exploratory research to help establish a baseline of this changing, urban ocean. Using NHMLA collections as well as outside resources, students will use comparative analysis to understand the roles of the organisms they observe.

Laboratory (school-provided classroom)

This portion of the program is a simulation of research conducted in the laboratory. Students will assume the roles of paleontologists studying the faunal history of the Los Angeles Basin through geologic time.  Students will begin by observing fossil specimens unearthed at specific locations in Southern California. Using NHMLA 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

Videos (pre-visit)

Watch the Mobile Museum: An Ocean Experience Introductions and the Meet the Scientists videos with your students prior the program's residency at your school. These videos will give students the mission they will have while onboard the submersible and will introduce students to the museum scientists that will help them achieve their mission. 

Connections to Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

  1. Asking questions and defining problems
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Analyzing and interpreting data
  4. Constructing explanations
  5. Engaging in argument from evidence
  6. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns 
  • Structure and Function
  • Stability and Change of Systems


Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

LS2.B: Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity

LS4.C: Adaptation

ESS1.C: The History of Planet Earth

Connections to Ocean Literacy Principles

5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

7. The ocean is largely unexplored