K-12 School Programs

Whitney Lab K-12 Science Education Programs

Whitney Lab K-12 Science Education Programs

The goal of the Whitney Lab’s K-12 outreach education programs is to use the Lab’s resources and expertise in modern biology to enrich science education in the surrounding communities and increase STEM education for local student learners.

At the elementary school level, our programs introduce younger students to the scientific method, and do so in a format that promotes observation and questioning. At the higher level we provide high school students with the resources to conduct an experiment using modern biotechnology.

Available ProgramsStudents
The Traveling Zoo K-3rd Grade
Day at the Whitney Lab 4th-6th Grade 
Traveling Turtle Trunk 1st-8th Grade


Watch the student preview of the Day at the Whitney Lab, and be a Scientist for a Day.



K-3rd Grade

Whitney-trained docents use those animals in a hands-on setting to introduce the children to marine biology by exploring how the animals breathe, find and eat food, protect themselves and generally survive in their environment.

This program takes a suite of marine animals to local K-3 classes. The format of this class promotes observation and questioning by the students.

  • Dates: Tuesdays and Thursdays, September through May 25
  • Class Size: We can accommodate 2-3 classes per school visit
  • Cost: $50 per class to cover the cost of transportation

Traveling Zoo Registration

To register for the Traveling Zoo, please fill out the request form. Upon receiving this form we will review your request and respond back in a timely manner. Please note that your class is not scheduled until you receive an email confirmation from the education staff.

***The Traveling Zoo is full for the 2018/2019 school year***
Registration for the 2019/2020 school year begins May 1, 2019.
 Traveling Zoo Request Form

For questions or more information, contact:

Madison Skidmore
(904) 201-8423


4th- 6th Grade

For this program, students in grades 4-6 come to the Whitney Lab for the better part of a school day.

In the lab they circulate through a series of docent-guided sessions that include conducting experiments, observing microscopic and planktonic organisms collected from the Whitney dock. The format is designed to promote questioning & observation by the students at a more advanced level than the Traveling Zoo.

Curriculum is designed to meet Florida Common Core standards.

  • Dates: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, September through May. Choose between a 2 or 2.5 hour program. Begins at 10 or 10:30 a.m. and ends by 1 p.m.
  • Class Size: 12-30 Students
  • Cost: $9 per student to cover costs of supplies

Day at the Whitney Registration

To register for the Day at the Whitney, please fill out the request form. Upon receiving this form we will review your request and respond back in a timely manner. Please note that your class is not scheduled until you receive an email confirmation from the education staff.

 Day at the Whitney Request Form

For questions or more information, contact:

Madison Skidmore
(904) 201-8423



1st - 8th Grade

Students will learn about Florida’s sea turtles, their nesting habits, how to sample populations, and step into the role of a sea turtle biologist. Lessons are designed to translate real sea turtle research into meaningful conservation lessons. This STEM-based program is encased in a large “traveling trunk," which will bring research and conservation alive as students discover sea turtle artifacts and “work up” their own sea turtle model. The trunk contains four conservation-based lessons that align with state standards.

Lessons are pre-printed, cut, laminated and ready to go in the lesson binder, leaving little to no work for you!

  • Dates: September - May
  • Cost: Available for one month “FREE rental”. Offered to you at NO CHARGE through a partnership between Whitney Laboratory and Inwater Research Group and funded by a Sea Turtle Grants Program grant.

Turtle Trunk Registration

To register for our Traveling Turtle Trunk please contact

Brenda Cannaliato, Education Coordinator

Volunteer - If you would like to teach in these programs or help behind the scenes, please see the Volunteer page.

Day at the Whitney Preparation & Resources

Pre and Post Tests

If you are planning to attend A Day at the Whitney Lab, please give your students the pre and post tests. Send student scores to education coordinatorThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Getting to the Whitney Lab

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Does the Whitney Lab offer behind-the-scenes tours or animal encounters?
Yes, Whitney Laboratory offers scheduled tours to the public. The two available tours are the Whitney Laboratory Public Tour and the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab Tour. Click here for more information.

How do I pay for the program?
Checks and credit cards are accepted.

If you wish to pay by credit card please contact the Administration Office between 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday-Friday

Please make your check out to the University of Florida.
Bring your check when you come or mail to:
The Whitney Lab Education Dept.
Attn: Brenda Cannaliato
9505 Ocean Shore Blvd.
St. Augustine, FL 32080

Field Trips

Who can sign up for field trips?
Field trips are open to all public and private schools and home school groups.

Our group is larger than the maximum number of students, what should we do?
You will need to split your group into two classes on two separate dates.

What is the field trip cancellation policy?
At this time we do not have a cancellation fee but we ask for a three week notice.

How will I know if I'm confirmed?
Upon scheduling you will receive a teacher letter containing important information about price, what to expect when arriving, etc. Approximately one month before your scheduled date you will receive a confirmation email to update the number of students you will be bringing, followed by an invoice for payment.

What if I bring a different number of students than on the invoice?
You will only be charged for the number of students you bring, and your invoice will be adjusted.

Where do we meet our instructor when we arrive at the Whitney Lab?
Look at the Whitney campus map and bring your students into the front door of the two story building marked as the Center for Marine Studies (CMS).

Where do busses park?
Busses may park in the area south of the CMS. See Map of Whitney Campus

What are our lunch options?
For Day at the Whitney Lab – bring a sack lunch. The students will get a 20 minute lunch break.

What if we bring more than the recommended number of chaperones?
Only one chaperone per six students are allowed in the education room, the extras must wait elsewhere.

I am a teacher. Do I get in for free?
Yes! Educators are admitted free of charge.

More questions?

Please feel free to contact us by phone at 904-201-8406 or by email - brenda@whitney.ufl.edu


Kindergarten-3rd grade students experienced The Traveling Zoo in 2016


4th-6th grade students experienced A Day at the Whitney in 2016


High school students experienced the Marine Biotech Program

Thank you to our supporters!
Thank you for helping us reach over 5,000 students each year!

Thank you to our supporters!

We thank the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation for their support for this year to provide K-12 educational programming at the Whitney Laboratory.

Thank you to the Florida Power and Light Company for their program support support, as well as the Putnam County 3rd grade Initiative for their support for our expansion to Putnam County Schools. 

Private donations are essential to providing hands on education that reaches over 5,000 students each year. If you would like to donate to the Education Fund at Whitney online please go here or call Jessica Long at 904 461-4018 for more information.