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Back-to-School Learning Beyond the Classroom at Shedd Aquarium

Shedd’s Learning Programs Immerse Students in the Aquatic Animal World

September 08, 2022

Students in Shedd's learning labs look through a microscope and fill out a worksheet about water samples.

Shedd Aquarium, a local leader in immersive, curiosity-sparking learning, offers a wide variety of upcoming programs for classrooms and educators to explore and connect with the aquatic animal world. With both onsite and virtual options, Shedd has created aquatic-science content to seamlessly integrate into curricula and the classroom while bringing students eye-to-eye with animals.

Whether it’s a virtual field trip to explore with animals and learn from experts at the aquarium, hands-on STEM activities like dissections during onsite field trips or professional development for educators, Shedd Aquarium supports learners and educators in their investigation of the natural world. 

School Field Trips

With onsite and virtual opportunities, students anywhere can have unforgettable experiences with turtles, penguins, sharks and more to learn about their natural behaviors, habitats, adaptations and anatomy. These programs typically involve an in-depth connection with a species, a look into Shedd’s research to support the species onsite and in their habitats beyond the aquarium and Q&A with animal care staff members. Some examples of program focus include how dolphins communicate, how to care for sharks, how animals defend themselves and more programs listed online.

  • $95-$125 per group
  • Dates program dependent
  • Grades: K-12  

Professional Development for Educators  

Educators can also participate in professional development workshops created by Shedd’s learning team. These highly interactive and collaborative training programs, rooted in NGSS, on topics such as aquatic science and informal teaching practices count toward ISBE clock hours, and all participants receive actionable materials they can immediately utilize in the classrooms. Participating educators will additionally look nature in the eye, connect with the aquarium through an animal ambassador and participate in interactive sessions where they can network and meet Shedd’s high-energy educators. These programs take place onsite and virtually.

  • 2-hour workshops/$25-35 per educator
  • Dates dependent on workshop selection
  • K-12 Educators 

Shedd Science Educator Conference

In a full-day program, educators take part in enriching workshops and behind-the-scenes tours to further develop science process skills to pass along to students and help them investigate the natural world. Workshops allow educators to practice innovative science teaching strategies while also connecting to Shedd's animals, exhibits and science resources. Attendees additionally get to network with other local educators, and the program hours count toward ISBE clock hours.

  • $60 per educator
  • Saturday, November 5, 2022, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • K-12 Educators

Lesson Plans
Free standards-aligned lesson plans tailored to communicate information about aquatic animals and the natural world are available to all on Shedd’s website. Educators can access a variety of lessons, guides and curricula tailored to their classroom needs. These include lessons about dolphin play, animal groups and movement, rescue and recovery efforts, and Shedd exhibit guides tailored to the different geographic regions they represent.

  • Free 
  • Offered for use at any time
  • Grades: K-12, varies by lesson

VISUALS: Photographs are available for download:  

Credit: © Shedd Aquarium