Museum-Based Programs

Guided Museum-Based Programs

Each museum-based segment is 30 minutes long and focuses on different topics in the museum. Activities listed may vary slightly depending on the grade level. You also have the option of choosing a narrated cruise on the museum’s historic Bugeye, the Wm. B. Tennison as part of your program. The cost of a cruise on the Tennison is $200 per hour. 

Marsh Exploration

Using everyday household objects, students learn why the salt marsh is a critical habitat in the Chesapeake Bay. Students begin by exploring the marsh with their senses – searching for clues of animal life and sharing what they have found. They discover some of the special adaptations of the animals and plants that inhabit the marsh. As part of this program, students visit our River Otters. The program takes place on the marsh walk or inside the museum in the case of inclement weather.

Chesapeake Habitats 

Students learn about the major habitats found in the Chesapeake watershed. Working in the River to Bay: Reflections and Connections gallery, students are given guiding questions and are asked to find the answers by making observations about the habitats and animals living in various exhibits. They explore what defines a habitat and what kinds of animals live in the different Chesapeake Bay habitats. This program is for students in kindergarten through grade 3.

Adaptations and Eco-Invaders

Students learn about animal adaptations using the animals in our River to Bay: Reflections and Connections gallery. Each team of students will be assigned a habitat to observe and will develop a list of special adaptations they see. Working with full-size puzzle pieces, they will design an animal adaptation based on the habitat they have been given. This program is for students in grade 4 and up. 

Fossil Adventure

Students use the Clues in the Cliffs paleontology exhibit to learn about the Miocene epoch and why we find fossils from that period on local beaches. After learning how a fossil is formed, students work in small groups to hypothesize what the environment was like 20 million years ago based on the murals and the fossils found in the exhibit. Students visit the museum’s paleontology preparation lab to see fossils being prepared. 

Native People of the Patuxent

Using a mural and other artworks, students make observations about how Native Americans used natural resources for housing, food, clothing and tools. Students will compare and contrast natural resource use from Native Peoples to the present by utilizing items in an Exploration Box. This program is for kindergarten through grade 3.


Working with historic maps and journals, students discover where Captain John Smith noted Native villages on his map, and locate them on a modern map. The students will use the historic map to answer questions for a game of "Chesapeake Millions". This program is for grades 4 and 5.

Lighthouses and Lighthouse Keepers

Students explore the Drum Point Lighthouse, completing a scavenger hunt to discover its history and the lives of those who lived there. They will learn the different styles of lighthouses built on the bay and examine a Fresnel lens up close. This program is for grade 1 and up.

Watermen and Their Boats 

Students explore the relationship between watermen, their catch, and their boats. After an introduction to oystering using a Chesapeake Bay chart, a historic oyster grounds map, and a waterman’s outfit, students will work in pairs to explore our small craft shed discovering how the bay’s topography and the requirements of different fisheries drove the design of new boats.  

The Discovery Room and Secrets of the Mermaid’s Purse

(For Pre-K through grade 3) 
The Discovery Room represents the museum in miniature. At the base of the “cliff” is a beach box where children can dig for fossils and figure out what they have found at our Fossil Identification Station. Students can “sail” in the sailing skiff, climb the model lighthouse steps to turn on the light at the top of the lighthouse and visit the keeper’s cottage. Learn about the local species at the touch tank touch, such as a terrapin or horseshoe crab.