Georgia Aquarium Homeschool Program

Since we’re focusing on ocean study and marine biology, we kicked off our homeschool year back in August with a visit to the Georgia Aquarium, and on Monday we went again.

homeschool field trip at the Georgia Aquarium

This time, we participated in our first homeschool event at the aquarium. Ken took the little kids to look at some of the exhibits (sadly, the touch tank area is temporarily closed) while Kathryn and I took part in a tour for high school level students.

feeding a whale shark

The tour took us behind the scenes to see the chemistry lab, the commissary, the surgical suite, one of the pump rooms — and to the top of the largest tank in the world, where we arrived just in time to see one of the aquarists feed one of the four whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.

behind the scenes at the Georgia Aquarium

Since Kathryn is considering a career in marine biology, she loved this. Extra cool: when I instagrammed this photo, the Georgia Aquarium left a lovely comment.

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After the tour, we met back up with Ken and the kids to see a few more exhibits, and got to see the whale sharks being fed again — this time from a totally different view.

Georgia Aquarium

Since I was clueless how this worked, and since I could tell some of the other homeschool families were also trying to figure it out, here’s the scoop:

About the Georgia Aquarium homeschool program:

These events are only offered one day a month, September through March, and fill up fast. Only two more are offered this year, so if you want to go, call now!

You must call to purchase event tickets; they cannot be reserved online. You bring your confirmation number to will-call on the day of the event; this gets you admission to the Aquarium for the day. At only $13 per student, this is a great deal, and includes admission for one chaperone. (Since we have annual passes, we skipped the will-call part.)

Instructions said to check in with the education department at 1:30 in the rotunda; I was looking for a desk of some sort, but at the appointed time, an employee appeared with a clipboard and a list of names. Although instructions said to bring our Declaration of Intent, we didn’t have to show any paperwork because our names were already on that list.

Once we checked in, we found our tour guide. There are four different programs, based on grade level. I believe there were about 20 people in our high school level group. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and we both agreed our guide was likeable and informative.

A few things to consider: only two kids are allowed per adult chaperone, which means large families would need to recruit other adults to come along. No kids under 4 are allowed. Since all programs happen at the same time, so there’s no way to do two different programs at the same time, which would be difficult for families with a wide age range. And finally, there’s only one program per age range per year, so even for aquarium enthusiasts, doing this twice in one year would be redundant.

I’m planning on letting the younger kids do this event next year, and let Kathryn do it again, too. Now on Kathryn’s wish list: animal interactions! Did you know you can touch and feed a dolphin, or swim with the whale sharks?!