Marine Science Institute


Mission Statement

The Marine Science Institute's mission is to cultivate a responsibility for the natural environment and our human communities through interdisciplinary science education. We achieve this goal through innovative marine science education programs that:
• Place students of all ages in direct contact with the natural environment;
• Emphasize the interdependence of all living things, their connection to the physical environment, and the special responsibilities of humans to the environment;
• Facilitate active learning through the use of observation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in a cooperative setting, and
• Instill confidence, encourage involvement, and inspire accomplishment by providing positive role models.


Marine Science Institute (MSI) has been delivering engaging, interactive Discover Our Bay marine adventures led by highly-qualified marine science educators for five decades. The Discover Our Bay program and all of our environmental education activities bring multiple benefits into young students’ lives. MSI activities introduce children to new sciences, reinforce their classroom learning with hands-on interactions, help them develop skills by improving their understanding of local ecosystems and the intricacies of them, and practice critical thinking in finding ways to solve current problems that affect our environment.
In our 50 years of operation we have reached over 1.3 million people with our marine science education and messages of environmental conservation. In the past year alone we educated and excited more than 56,000 people about the wonders of the San Francisco Bay. We have seen generations of family members come through our doors excited to learn about marine life. Many come back to tell us that they are now science teachers because of their experience at MSI as a child.

Program Details

MSI's primary activity is our in-school education program, Discover Our Bay, which serves an average of 40,000 Northern California pre-K through college level students each year. The following education services were created with teacher input and are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards and CA Common Core learning:
1. Discovery Voyage is a 4-hour exploration of the San Francisco Bay aboard our 90' research vessel. Students participate in 4 learning stations where they work in a cooperative setting using industry-standard science equipment.
a. Use a trawl net to catch fish and marine life from the Bay, and dichotomous keys to study and identify them.
b. Gather samples of plankton from the Bay to view and identify using video-microscopes.
c. Use a Van Dorn bottle to collect water samples, developing hypotheses and gathering data on temperature, density, salinity and other measures of water quality.
d. Operate a mud grab to take a benthic sample, to study plants and invertebrates that live at the bottom of the bay while learning about the geologic and cultural history of California.
2. Inland Voyages are in-class "field trips" to the Pacific Ocean and Bay, enabled by our mobile aquarium that brings live sharks, fish, crabs, and other marine animals to students at their school.
3. Shoreside Program is a 3-hour land-based version of the Discovery Voyage that takes place at MSI's pier and Discovery Lab on the bayfront in Redwood City.
4. Ocean Lab students handle and study animals, and dissect a squid, to develop an understanding of taxonomy, anatomy, characteristics and adaptations.
5. Tidepool Excursion is a 2½ hour hands-on exploration of the terrain and inhabitants of the Pillar Point tidepools in Half Moon Bay, CA.
6. Marsh and Beach Exploration is a 2½-hour hands-on exploration of sandy beach and marsh ecology at Pescadero State Beach.
7. Canoes in Sloughs is a 5-hour wetland ecosystem expedition exploring Redwood Creek and the salt marshes by canoe.
Primary Issue
500 Discovery Parkway
Redwood City, CA 94063
United States
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