School Programs

The Back Bay Science Center is dedicated to educating students about our unique coastal resources with an emphasis on the Upper Newport Bay. The Back Bay Science Center focuses on offering 7th grade through college age students a variety of educational opportunities.

Many of the education programs on the island are led by California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff with the help of volunteers from the Newport Bay Conservancy. The Newport Bay Conservancy have been conducting school field trips at Upper Newport Bay on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Game and Orange County Parks for more than ten years. Programs incorporate several learning stations including an investigation of plankton, animals living in the mud, the watershed, birds, and water quality. Please call 949-640-9956 for more information.

Through a partnership with Orange County Coastkeepers students may visit the Back Bay Science Centrer through a program called W.H.A.L.E.S.: Watershed Heroes – Actions Linking Education to Stewardship. The program introduces local students to watershed and ecological concepts through in-class exercises and field trips at no cost to schools. Contact Education Director Dyana Pena at 714-850-1965 ext. 1004 or to apply for a free or donation-based program. Click here for more information  W.H.A.L.E.S Program

The California Coastal Commission offers another educational opportunity, held onsite at the Back Bay Science Center. Project Grow offers experiential education programs focusing on the complex environmental disturbances along the urban coast in Orange County, California.  During these programs, participants grow their own ecological knowledge and habitat restoration skills to actively assist the growth of healthy ecosystems. With new knowledge and confident action, Project Grow participants develop a deeper sense of connection to the community in which they live. Contact  Matt Yurko  for more information.

The Irvine Ranch Conservancy offers a program where the students get to spend some time at the Back Bay Science Center. The Art Meets Science program combines art and science to promote conservation of natural resources and stewardship.  Fourth grade students from the Orange County area view plein air artwork at the Irvine Museum Collection with staff and discuss what it means to be an exceptional observer like those artists.  Students then travel to the Back Bay Science Center to use their observation skills at an estuarine ecological reserve.  They hone their observations by looking for patterns in nature like a scientist.  Afterwards, students create their own plein air artwork fostering conservation. Art Meets Science

For more information about educational programs hosted at the Back Bay Science Center,

Our neighbor, Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center concentrates on toddlers through third grade students for school programs.  These programs are conducted by the Newport Bay Conservancy, a local non-profit who has been involved in the management and education programs about the Upper Newport Bay since 1968. 

For a list of the program activities and teacher resources please visit our Resources page


The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has partnered with the City of Newport Beach and the Newport Bay Conservancy to provide outreach programs through a mobile aquarium named the ISOpod. The ISOpod (formerly known as the Sharkmobile) is an Interactive Sealife Outreach pod and it offers a variety of outreach programs to Title 1 Schools. If you are a Title 1 School teacher and would like more information, please call 949.640.9959

The Back Bay Science Center offers several different types of school programs for students and programs that are open for public participation. Some of these opportunities include; School Field Trips, Teacher Workshops, Public Programs, Community-based Restoration & Education Programs, Marine Life Inventories, Volunteering, College Internships, Research Projects, and Discovering Estuaries-ISOpod programs throughout the year. Opportunites to get involved with Coastal Clean-up Day, Estuary Awareness Day, and Earth Day are also available on an annual basis. 

***To schedule space for a training, workshop or to book an educational program for your students a facility usage request form is required. Please click here for additional information. ***