Plan a Field Trip

Navigate the aquatic world of Shedd for an exciting and educational adventure. Create a memorable experience and expand your curriculum with lab programs on animal behavior, habitats, adaptations, ecosystems, anatomy and water chemistry. Take your students’ learning to the next level. 

Register online:


Field Trip Program FAQ
Illinois State Learning Standards
On-Site Learning Labs
Shedd Bus Fund Program

Educator Field Trip Guide
This guide will help you plan a field trip that’s not just educational, but enjoyable and memorable as well. Use our educator guide to plan a field trip that encourages your students to explore and learn about the aquatic world.

On-Site Learning Labs
Available Sept. 9, 2013, to June 6, 2014
Our learning lab guides let you introduce concepts in the classroom before the visit so that your students are eager and ready for this unique hands-on learning experience.

K-2 and 3-5 programs are available on Thursdays and Fridays only. They can accommodate up to 35 students, and are $95 for each 50-minute program. 6-8 and 9-12 programs are available on Mondays and Wednesdays only. They can accommodate up to 30 students, and are $125 for each 90-minute program.

Take a look at what's available this year:

Grades K–2 Learning Labs

Camouflaging Critters
Bodies that look like leaves, logs, ice floes and seafloors: Camouflage comes in many shapes and colors. With one of the aquarium animals as a model, students see firsthand the role camouflage plays between animals and their habitats. The scientific process comes to life as students observe, predict and report results.

Key concepts: camouflage, adaptations, habitats, predator/prey relationships, behavior

Skills: categorization, predictions, modeling, grouping, observation

Camouflaging Critters Learning Lab Guide

Icy Adaptations
Take a closer look at Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium animals. Students investigate and explore some of the adaptations that enable beluga whales, sea otters and penguins to survive in their icy habitats.

Key concepts: adaptations, animal behavior, insulation, anatomy

Skills: identification, comparing and contrasting, data organization, group work, experimentation, investigation

Icy Adaptations Learning Lab Guide

Grades 3-5 Learning Labs

Reef Relationships 
Examine life in a coral reef ecosystem to discover a complex food web. Students delve into predator/prey interactions to understand the specialized feeding adaptations and behaviors animals need to make a living on the reef.

Key concepts: adaptations, predator/prey relationships, ecosystems, food webs

Skills: comparing and contrasting, collaboration, observation, experimentation

Reef Relationships Learning Lab Guide

Amazon Survival
Trek into the Amazon flooded forest to discover how the seasonal cycles of high and low water shape life along the river. Students explore what adaptations enable animals—and people—to take advantage of this dynamic environment.

Key concepts: experimentation, adaptations, form and function, relationships

Skills: observation, team work, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving
Amazon Survival Learning Lab Guide

Grades 6-8 Learning Labs

Exploring Anatomy: Squid Dissection
Examine the morphology of a squid during a student-driven, hands-on dissection. Students ask questions and work together to answer them by identifying parts of a squid and exploring the many adaptations that help this invertebrate be the predator and not the prey in its habitat.

Key concepts: adaptations, predator/prey relationships, physiology, anatomy, taxonomy

Skills: scientific investigation and method, collaboration and communication, group work, presentation, inquiry

Squid Dissection Learning Lab Guide

Lakeshore Ecology
Behind the scenes at Shedd or right outside Shedd’s doors, students apply problem-based learning to discover whether the lake is fit to hold an exhibit for Shedd animals. Students explore exhibit habitats and measure the health of an aquatic system by performing water-quality tests. They are then challenged to use their results to determine whether they would
recommend that Shedd design an exhibit in the lake.

Key concepts: ecosystems, ecological impact, life history, invasive species, human impact

Skills: scientific method and investigation, collaboration and communication, data collection and analysis, experimentation, prediction

Lakeshore Ecology Learning Lab Guide

Grades 9–12 Learning Labs

Exploring Pathology: Fish Dissection

Through a hands-on dissection, students play the role of Shedd’s animal health team in this problem-based learning lab. Students use various pathology procedures to diagnose the health of their specimen. Learn how a necropsy can be a vital tool in caring for an animal collection.

Key concepts: adaptations, physiology, anatomy, pathology, forensics, animal health

Skills: scientific investigation and method, collaboration and communication, group work, inquiry, qualitative and quantative data collection

Exploring Pathology: Fish Dissection Learning Lab Guide

Great Lakes: Testing the Waters
Students go behind the scenes at Shedd and apply problem-based learning to explore an imbalance in a Great Lakes ecosystem. Students explore exhibit habitats and perform water-quality tests. They are then challenged to interpret their results to evaluate the health of the Great Lakes and some of its fish populations.

Key concepts: invasive species, ecology, ecosystems, human impact, population dynamics

Skills: scientific investigation and method, collaboration and communication, data collection and analysis, presentation, inquiry

Great Lakes: Testing the Waters Learning Lab Guide

Science Standards
Check the Illinois standards for our curricula and learning labs:

Common Core English Standards Aligned to Shedd Learning Labs
Common Core Math Standards Aligned to Shedd Learning Labs
Common Core English and Math Standards Aligned to Shedd Outreach Programs
Illinois State Learning Standards Aligned to Shedd Learning Labs

Shedd Bus Fund Program
We are no longer taking reservations for this program. 

The bus fund program at Shedd Aquarium, sponsored in part by Target®, offers field trip assistance to economically disadvantaged schools in the Chicago Public Schools system. Participation is limited to schools in which at least 51 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.

Shedd’s bus fund provides up to $150 a bus for up to two buses for round-trip transportation to Shedd. (Schools must make transportation arrangements through the bus provider of their choice and pay any charges over the maximum $300 allotted. Funding is not guaranteed until confirmation is received.) Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Family programs

Encourage parent/child learning with family programs that connect to science and nature.

Educator resources

Add interactive learning to your curriculum with our classroom resources.

Illinois Learning Standards

Our K-12 programs ignite student wonder and offer problem-based learning while fulfilling Illinois Learning Standards for Science.

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