The Columbia River Maritime Museum offers an array of educational programs for K-12 school groups. From docent-led tours of the Museum and the Lightship Columbia, to in-class programs and activity-rich publications, the Museum is dedicated to increasing your students’ understanding of the maritime history of the Columbia River and the Pacific Northwest.
To schedule a tour, reserve a Museum-in-a-Trunk, or for further information about any of the opportunities listed below, please contact the education director.
Education programs are funded by the Quest for Truth Foundation, and supported by the Friends of Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Bring the Museum to your classroom with a Museum-in-a-Trunk. Each trunk is filled with objects providing students a hands-on experience that assists them in making connections with the past. Trunks come with a teacher’s guide. All trunks are loaned for a one-month period. Prepayment is required.
The Lighthouses trunk is a thematic approach to studying these important aids to navigation. Your students will learn more about lighthouses through a variety of lesson plans. Read stories, both humorous and dramatic, about family life at a lighthouse during the early 1900s. Hands-on activities include learning about light, weather, electricity, simple machines, geography and history. Materials include replicas, uniform, experiments, videos and books.
Available February through June. FREE. This trunk's fee is funded by the Oregon Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.
Many cultures have shaped the Pacific Northwest. These cultures are studied through the toys, tools, clothing, art, and food specific to each. Students will explore the concepts of change, community, and interdependence. Cultures represented include Native Americans, Scandinavian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and English.
$25 loan fee.
Captain Robert Gray was an important mariner in the late 1700s. Shipboard life and maritime history come to life in the classroom with this trunk. Replicas portraying life at sea, trade items, pelts, charts, videos and audiotapes provide students with an in-depth exploration of Robert Gray’s voyages to the Northwest.
$25 loan fee.
For the Teacher
Plan your field trip visit free of charge. Come tour the Museum before your class arrives to best utilize our resources. Contact the education director to arrange a time to tour the facilities. Receive 10% off merchandise you purchase for your classroom in the Museum Store.
If you teach in Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Pacific, Wahkiakum County or the Kelso/Longview area, our “Museum in the Schools” provides free programs in your classroom. Call the education director for available programs that come to your area.
The Museum Library is available to all educators. The library contains photos, books, charts and periodicals related to Museum exhibits. These resources are available for on-site use. Just make your appointment with the Curatorial Department to use the Library prior to your visit.
Reservations are required for all programs, and are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs fill quickly in the fall and spring, so please make your reservations at least two weeks in advance to receive the group rate. To schedule a tour, call 503.325.2323. For more information on rates and policies, see Group Tours.
Expose your young students to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The opportunity to handle replicas and artifacts will make history more real to your students. Trained guides will assist your class in learning about some of our unique artifacts and guide students in making critical observations about some of our boats. Allow 1.25 hours, minimum.
Maritime technologies have evolved from early sailing ships to today’s Coast Guard rescue boats. Through observation and investigative techniques students solve the identity of mystery objects used by sailors, experiment with prisms and laser pointers, and race against time to don a survival suit. Topics can include the working conditions on sailing ships, lighthouse technologies, historical maps, and the dangers of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. This interactive program is sure to delight your students. Allow 2.5 hours, minimum. Maximum of 56 students.
Content standards: understanding that one invention likely leads to other inventions; comparing/contrasting early maps; identifying primary sources and analyzing artifacts; and examining technology advancements.
Why did mariners sail to the Pacific Northwest? What importance did the Columbia River play in the history of the United States? What were the hazards they encountered? With this interactive, hands-on program your students will take a journey back in time as they examine early maps, handle furs, and classify trade items. Students will measure the depth of the river and try their hand at “shooting a star.” Allow 2 hours, minimum. Maximum of 60 students.
Content standards: using and reading maps; understanding the impact of exploration on Native Americans; applying measuring skills; and classifying and identifying primary sources.
The Columbia River has been a major highway for trade since the Pacific Northwest was first inhabited. Students will examine a variety of goods and transportation modes from the 1700s to present, gaining an understanding of the importance of global trade connections and the Columbia River. Hands-on activities including measuring, container ship loading and group problem solving are incorporated into this program to illustrate changing transportation technologies, supply and demand, and the importance of the Columbia River then and now. Allow 2.5 hours, minimum. Maximum of 60 students.
Content standards: distinguishing between barter and money and how they facilitate the exchange of goods; recognizing that nations interact through trade; giving examples of the kinds of goods and services produced in Oregon in different historical periods; and identifying primary and secondary sources.
Experience life aboard the historic Lightship Columbia. This program provides hands-on activities including weather recording, signal flag communication, Morse code, and measuring the depth of the river. Pre-visit materials are provided and will prepare students for their visit. Allow 2 hours, minimum. Maximum of 24 students.
This program applies the following content standards: understanding state history, measuring, understanding how scientific knowledge changes over time, and describing and measuring weather changes.
What is a museum? This hands-on program challenges students to use observation, problem solving, and decision-making skills as they examine items and determine if the items should be added to the Museum’s collection. Students will discover items used in a variety of maritime occupations as they explore the galleries with a guide, and select artifacts to observe in more detail. Allow 2.5 hours, minimum.
Content standards: understanding historical events; identifying geographic regions; explaining cultural impact; identifying primary sources; employing critical thinking; and career education.
Discover Northwest and maritime history through a guided tour of the Museum. Tours will be designed to meet teachers' curriculum needs. Allow 1.5 hours, minimum.
This program is designed for teachers looking for something other than a guided tour through the Museum. Your chaperones guide small groups on a search through the galleries that provides more active participation and conversations from your students. The education department will tailor the search to your needs. Call for more information. Allow 1.5 hours, minimum. Maximum of 60 students.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum has two FREE publications that teachers may request for their classroom. Each activity book focuses on a fictional character that has a problem to solve. The books contain activities and factual information presented in an interesting format for students. Call or e-mail the education director to request copies.
Molly Watkins finds a mysterious object while beachcombing. Through her research and correspondence with her kindly old Uncle Jasper, a former lighthouse keeper, she discovers what the item is. Designed as 15 activity-filled lessons, this book will sharpen students’ reading, science, math, history and critical thinking skills. Activities meet content standards in reading, geography, math, problem solving, telling time, and reading tables and diagrams.
Students follow Samuel from his farm in New York to the whaling town of New Bedford where he signs aboard a whaler. Throughout Samuel’s voyage, students will chart his course on a map, calculate distance traveled, learn about shipboard life, fill in missing journal entries and determine the venture’s final profits. Activities meet content standards in reading, creative writing, geography, health and math.