9:30am to 5pm daily

1792 Marine Drive
Astoria, OR

Onsite School Programs

All on-site museum programs are offered Monday through Friday from October through June. Fees listed below are per class (up to 30 students).

Admission for one adult chaperone per five students will be included as part of the program fee. Additional adults will be charged $8 per person.

2020 Bus transportation scholarships (Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook Counties) are provided with support from the Northwest STEM Hub and are available by application. Submit a completed form for consideration.

For questions about school programs, please contact the Education Director, Nate Sandel at 503.325.2323.


Learning Labs

Introductory Underwater Robotics Learning Lab

In this activity-based program, students will learn the fundamentals of underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) design. Working in teams, students will build a ROV and try to recover the seven missing cannons from the USS Shark, which wrecked near the Columbia River entrance in 1846.

Gallery connection: USS Shark Exhibit
Grade level: 4+
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Fee: $100

Advanced Underwater Robotics Learning Lab

In this activity-based program, students will learn the fundamentals of underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) design and how to engineer hydraulics. Working in teams, students will build a ROV with a movable tool to help recover artifacts from the Santo Cristo de Burgos which wrecked off the north Oregon coast in 1693. Includes a "behind the scenes" viewing of Santo Cristo de Burgos artifacts with our curator.

Grade level: 6+
Time: 2 hours
Fee: $150

Rescue at Sea Learning Lab

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 participate in a hypothermia demonstration.

Gallery connection: Coast Guard Exhibit
Grade level:
Time: 50 minutes
Fee: $100

Economics of Trade Learning Lab

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.

Gallery connection: Great Hall, Fur Trade Exhibit
Grade level:
Time: 50 minutes
Fee: $100

Meteorology Learning Lab

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.

Gallery connection: Science of Storms
Grade level:
Time: 50 minutes
Fee: $100

Immigration Learning Lab

Students will travel back in time to the late 1800s when floods of immigrants were coming to America. Most European immigrants entered on the East Coast through such immigration stations as Ellis Island, but what about Asian immigrants? Students will learn how differently Asians were treated compared to European immigrants moving to the West Coast. Students will be assigned different names and numbers based on a real ship manifest entering the Columbia River and will act out the different steps in the immigration process, including a stop at "The Ellis Island of the Columbia River"—the Knappton Cove Quarantine Station. Students will be treated differently depending on their nationality and whether they are a cabin or steerage passenger.

NOTE: To create the most impact, this Learning Lab will have unfair consequences where ONLY some students will receive a treat. If you think your students will not be able to handle this, please choose a different program.

Gallery connection: Great Hall
Grade level:
Time: 1 hour
Fee: $100

Shark Dissection Learning Lab

Vitamin A was desperately needed during World War II to improve night vision for pilots. Shark liver oil was found to be a rich source of vitamin A and immediately a new fishery was formed on the Oregon Coast to catch the dogfish and soupfin shark to harvest the liver.

In this NEW Learning Lab students working in pairs will dissect Squalus acanthias (dogfish). Sharks are fascinating fishes with a cartilaginous skeleton, extremely large liver, and a tough skin covered in placoid scales. Students will observe the exterior of the shark before moving into an internal exploration focusing on the amazing and oily liver.

Gallery connection: Shark Fishing Exhibit
Grade level:
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Fee: $225

Lighthouse Learning Lab

What is the purpose of a lighthouse? How do they work? What was it like to live in a lighthouse? In this NEW Learning Lab students will explore the science behind the Fresnel lens, learn about the sentinels of the Graveyard of the Pacific, life as a lighthouse family, and build their own working miniature Cape Disappointment Lighthouse to take home.

Gallery connection: Lightship Columbia,Navigation Gallery
Grade level:
Time: 1 hour
Fee: $100

Shipboard Programs

Sentinel of the Sea, the Lightship Columbia

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. Due to limited space, we can only accommodate one class at a time aboard the lightship Columbia.

Grade level: 4+
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Fee: $100

Overnight on the Lightship

Experience the lightship Columbia like a real Coastie and spend the night with your student group. The lightship can accommodate up to 17 people. This overnight program includes educator-led hands-on activities and an evening screening of Goonies on the top deck. 

Check-In: 5:30 PM 
Check-Out: 8:30 AM       
Grade Level: 4+        
Fee: $500

Sailing Lunch

Education Park and Model Boat Pond

Enjoy a relaxing lunch in our new Education Park. Museum staff will provide different model boats for students to captain as they finish eating.

Fee: $50

Self-guided Visits

Materials to enhance your self-guided tour of the galleries are available upon request.

Grade level: K+
Fee: $80 or FREE with any Learning Lab or Shipboard Program.