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Coastal Classroom

Marine Science Classes
at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center

We offer a unique outdoor learning experience for students of all ages! Choose from the Classroom, Field, and Coastal Gallery modules to “build-a-program” with us to fill in a two-hour time slot. A really popular combination is the Coastal Gallery Tour, Beach Ecology Walk, and either Sand Sifting or Seining. Our programs correlate to the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), which are aligned with the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards. Programs are offered year-round, rain or shine, on beautiful Tybee Island.

Contact or call 912-786-5917  to book your program.

Guided Tour of Live Animals Exhibits

Coastal Gallery Tour

All ages (1/2 hour)

Educators lead students through a tour of the Coastal Gallery which features species native to the Georgia coast, a few invaders. Our live animal collection changes throughout the season and includes baby ‘gators, lionfish, loggerhead sea turtle hatchling, batfish, stingrays, puffers, se horses, and more. Students interact with live marine invertebrates like hermit crabs, snails, and sand dollars in the open touch pool.

a hand holding a starfish

Classroom Modules

Peanut Butter & Jellies

All Ages (1/2 Hour)

Students discover the fascinating life of sea jellies. Through understanding the life cycle of a sea jelly, students learn about unique adaptations and anatomy. Students explore the different species of jellies found off Georgia’s coast, and why they are important.

Dock Lab

Kindergarten and up (1/2 hour)

Students investigate live animals that reside underneath a floating dock. Invertebrates are identified using a Dock Lab Guide, and the importance of estuaries is discussed. To improve observation skills, the class uses a flexible camera to get a “close up” look of the organisms as they are displayed–larger than life–on a large-screen television. Classification of fouling community organisms is included. Specimens are collected at a local dock by educators prior to the class.

Squid Dissection

Third grade and up (1 hour)

An amazing video clip introduces students to key external features and the locomotion of squid. Students are paired up to perform a guided dissection of a squid and learn about the anatomy, adaptations, and behavior of these complex creatures. We’ll discuss invertebrates versus vertebrates and why scientific classification is important. Students will better understand the diversity of living organisms through the richly weird world of this magnificent mollusk.

Gyotaku Fish Printing

Third grade and up (1 hour)

The Japanese art of fish printing, Gyotaku, was initially developed as a method to record size and species of a fisherman’s catch. Through the years it has become an international art form. By pressing painted fish and other sea life replicas onto t-shirts, students will create their own one-ofa-kind work of art. Students examine anatomy and function of fish – learning how they breathe, swim, and survive. Participants must bring their own tee-shirt.

Let’s Meet A Fish

Pre-K to Second grade (1/2 hour)

Through various interactive activities, young students learn about the anatomy, adaptations, and behavior of fish. Entertaining puppets introduce them to the basic concepts. Then, students help build a fun fish and even learn how to school! Lastly, using examples of camouflage introduced in the lesson, students have the opportunity to create their own fish drawing.

Field Modules

Beach Ecology Walk

All ages (1/2 or 1 hour)

Students participate in a guided beach walk to explore the dynamics of Georgia’s barrier islands. They learn about the ever-changing intertidal zone, the origin of sand, the forces behind the tides and waves, sand dune formation and importance, and the connections among the island’s habitats. The effects of pollution and development on the ocean and shoreline will be examined. Students also identify the animals and plants found while exploring, which may include sand dollars, snails, barnacles, crabs, and pelicans. They’ll discover how their remarkable adaptations allow them to survive on and around the barrier islands. The amazing life cycle of the summer nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtle is also discussed. Participants may collect unoccupied shells during the Beach Ecology Walk.

Marsh Ecology Walk

All ages (1 hour)

Students hike into one of the most productive ecosystems in the world–the salt marsh. Here they will catch scampering fiddler crabs, examine salty grasses, observe soaring marsh birds, and hold periwinkle snails. We’ll keep an eye out for the Diamondback Terrapin, a protected species and only turtle that prefers to live in the marsh and estuary. Students learn how the inhabitants have adapted to this unique environment full of marvelous mud and tidal flow. Find out how this ecosystem acts as a nursery, filter, and protector. Be prepared for feet to get wet and/or muddy. Groups must have transportation (seven minute drive) to the marsh from the Science Center.

Sand Sifting

All ages (1/2 hour)

Students discover the marine life that resides below the sandy surface of the shoreline using strainers in ankle-deep water to sift the wet sand. We’ll identify the invertebrates such as mole crabs, snails, sand dollars, coquina clams, and worms–and discuss their adaptations. Students will learn about the intertidal food web and the coastal predators of the sanddwelling animals. If time permits, we’ll use a flexible camera to get a “close-up” look at some of the organisms we’ve found on a large-screen television.


Third grade and up (1/2 hour)

Students will pull a 10-foot seine net through the surf to catch and observe the diverse marine life in our waters. Organisms that may be caught in the seine net include anchovy, pompano, kingfish, jellyfish, and crabs. Students handle the harmless animals and discuss the classification and adaptations of the species. Participants may get wet to the waist. To schedule this activity, each group must have two willing adults to help pull the net if needed. Educators determine if weather and wave action are suitable for seining that day.


Fifth grade and up (1 hour)

Students learn about the four basic aspects of ocean study – physical, chemical, geological, and biological. A variety of oceanographic instruments and tools are used to examine such factors as tides, temperature, depth, visibility, salinity, sediment, and plankton. Students work together to collect, analyze, and discuss data. They gain a better understanding of the importance of studying the sea by experiencing firsthand the multiple disciplines of oceanography.