Ocean Discovery Institute


Mission Statement

Ocean Discovery Institute uses an ocean science platform to engage young people from urban underserved backgrounds and empowers them to transform their lives, their community, and ultimately our world as scientific and environmental leaders.


Founded in 1999, Ocean Discovery Institute is a San Diego-based 501(c)3 that has been providing science education for over two decades. From our more than humble beginnings at a makeshift lab space in a bayside kayak closet, children emerged passionate about science and serious about tackling environmental problems. As a result of the continued belief and investment of donors, volunteers, scientists, families, and students, the organization has developed world-class programming and empowered students to achieve at unprecedented rates.
Ocean Discovery Institute’s unique approach and exceptional outcomes earned national recognition in 2010 when we were awarded The White House’s Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. When we accepted this recognition in the Oval Office, we did so on behalf of courageous contributors who believe in ocean science as a tool to transform our communities and ultimately our world.
Most recently, Ocean Discovery Institute opened the doors of the Living Lab, our state-of-the-art science and education facility located in the heart of the urban underserved community of City Heights in central San Diego. The Living Lab, designed by famed architect Rob Wellington Quigley, will achieve LEED Platinum certification and net-zero energy. This facility was the first of its kind capital project in partnership with a non-governmental organization (NGO) and the San Diego Unified School District. Situated at the head of Manzanita Canyon, a 30-acre urban canyon in City Heights, the Living Lab has also enabled a first-ever agreement between the City of San Diego and an NGO for access to the adjacent canyon for restoration and education.
The opening of the Living Lab marked a turning point in Ocean Discovery’s history. Here, we will ensure that science and conservation are woven into the fabric of the community, we will grow to reach 10,000 students each year, and importantly, we will set the expectation of achievement that our students have demonstrated they deserve.
Today, Ocean Discovery Institute is a national model for preparing individuals from the most underrepresented groups and fastest growing demographic in the nation to become the scientific leaders – leaders who will develop the solutions needed for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
Tomorrow, with the support of partners and investors like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) we will continue growing to reach more students in City Heights and use lessons learned through these efforts to create sites across the United States.

Program Details

Ocean Discovery reaches students from kindergarten to career in two primary ways: in-school and outside of school programs. All programs are grounded in our ocean science platform for teaching all principles of STEM, and all programs provide rigorous hands-on science experiences coupled with mentoring and tools for success.
Primary Issue
2211 Pacific Beach Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
United States
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