All on-site museum school tours and programs are offered October–June, Monday–Friday. Fees listed below are per class (up to 35 students). Click here to register.
Admission for one adult chaperone per five students will be included as part of the program fee. Additional adults beyond the maximum chaperone ratio will be charged $8 per person, to be paid on arrival.
Bus transportation scholarships (Clatsop, Columbia and Wahkiakum Counties only) are available by application. Submit a completed form for consideration.
For questions about school programs, please contact the Education Manager, Nate Sandel at 503.325.2323.
Underwater Robotics Learning Lab (available April 3 to June 16)
In this activity-based program, students will learn the fundamentals of underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) design. Working in teams, students will build an ROV and try to recover the seven remaining carronades from the shipwreck of the USS Shark.
If your students would like to visit the USS Shark exhibit, please schedule 30 minutes following your Learning Lab visit.
Grades 2+: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Class on ROVs and design basics (20 min.)
- Design, build, rebuild and complete the mission (66 min.)
- Clean up and discussion (19 min.)
Grades 5+: 3 hours
- Class on ROVs and design process (30 min.)
- Large groups build prototypes (30 min.)
- Prototypes testing and discussion (15 min.)
- Small teams design, build, rebuild and complete the mission (66 min.)
- Clean up and discussion (19 min.)
Rescue at Sea Learning Lab
Grades 5+: 1 hour
Known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, the Columbia River Bar is the most dangerous river-to-ocean crossing in the world. In this hands-on program, students will learn about dangerous waters of the Pacific Northwest, the people who put their lives on the line to keep others safe, how to survive a shipwreck, and a hypothermia demonstration.
Economics of Trade Learning Lab
Grades 4+: 45 minutes
The Columbia River has been an important highway of trade for thousands of years for the people who live along its banks—from the sailing ships entering the river for the lucrative fur trade, to the modern ships moving automobiles, containers, and bulk grain around the world. This interactive Learning Lab will explore the history and the economic factors involved in trade on the Columbia River. The lab will culminate with a trading activity where the students will get to keep the items they procure.
Meteorology Learning Lab
Grades 3+: 1 hour
The Pacific Northwest is famous for its unpredictable weather and wild winter storms. In this Learning Lab, students will participate in experiments demonstrating how humidity, air pressure, and temperature all influence our weather. The Learning Lab culminates with students making a weather prediction using real-time data and presenting a "live" weather report on camera.
Tours are 45 minutes long unless otherwise noted
Great River of the West
Grades: 3+: 45 minutes
Experience the history of the Columbia River and how it has shaped the lives of those who live near its shores. Discover northwest and maritime history through this guided tour of the museum.
Fee: $80 or FREE with any Learning Lab
Sentinel of the Sea, the Lightship Columbia
Grades 3+: 1 hour 30 minutes
As early as 1892 lightships have marked the way for vessels passing the Columbia River Bar and through the area famously named the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” This hands-on tour will allow students the opportunity to connect with the daily lives and duties of the crew working and living aboard the Lightship Columbia.
Materials to enhance your self-guided tour of the galleries are available upon request.
Fee: $60 or FREE with any Learning Lab