For Teachers


Currently the Mission-Aransas Estuary Reserve education facilities and the UT Marine Science Institute campus are closed to the public as we recover and rebuild from the hurricane. We are only conducting outreach to schools and learning centers, R/V Katy Excursions and Teacher Workshops at this time. We look forward to offering our full suite of programming in the near future!

Student (K-12) Programs

Our TEK-aligned programs immerse learners in guided-inquiry and place-based activities that inspire curiosity, connect to research, promote stewardship, and refine STEM process skills. Program offerings include R/V Katy excursions, field investigations, classes/labs, presentations, professional development, interpretive tours, and self-guided walks. Many of our classes and labs can travel to your classroom or learning center, be sure to ask us which programs are available for outreach. Learn more about our programmatic offerings, availability and how to reserve a program by contacting us at

Programs are offered at both the Port Aransas UT Marine Science Institute campus and our Bay Education Center in Rockport. Programs may differ depending on location. 

R/V Katy Excursions (Grades 4-College)

The R/V Katy provides a unique platform for student groups to learn about estuaries and estuary dependent organisms by bringing the students directly to the habitat they are learning about.  Aboard the R/V Katy, students will observe the deployment of various scientific sampling devices, gain an appreciation for the diversity of life in estuarine environments, refine their science process skills, and have an authentic science research experience. Half-day trips are approximately 3-3.5 hours with a maximum of 25 people (students and teachers).  Groups with more than 25 people have the option to schedule multiple half-day trips or schedule multiple quarter-day trips (2 per half day reservation) to accommodate the entire group. Trips are seasonal and weather dependent. To schedule an R/V Katy excursion complete this form:

Field Investigations & Interpretive Tours (Grades 3-12; K-2 in development)

Learning experiences facilitated within the Mission-Aransas Estuary and nearby natural environments, such as beaches, jetties, dunescapes, wetlands, and native gardens. These place-based programs immerse learners in dynamic and diverse coastal habitats where they will examine, identify and compare habitat characteristics and plant and animal adaptations. Students will also look for evidence of human impact and discuss how these impacts affect the health and function of these valuable natural resources. Throughout their exploration students will use scientific tools such as magnifiers, rulers, identification guides, and models to support their investigations. 60-120m programs. Up to 25 students (10 student minimum) per program. Larger groups  can be accommodated with advanced notification.

Exploration Labs (Grades 3-12; K-2 in development)

These guided inquiry-based programs provide students an opportunity to refine and practice STEM process skills while exploring coastal and marine organisms and environments. Each lab focuses on a particular topic and is grade specific. Students will safely use a variety of scientific equipment or instruments to conduct their investigations, such as microscopes, magnifiers, probes, rulers, nets, and maps. 60-90m programs. Minimum of 10 and maximum of 24 students per program. Larger groups can be accommodates with advanced notification. 

Science On A Sphere (SOS) Programs (Grades 3-12)

During these interactive and visually stimulating programs, student will use observation and critical thinking skills as they conduct science investigations using a 3D digital globe on Earth and Ocean topics such as climate, weather, currents, and marine debris. 30-60 minute duration. Minimum of 10 and maximum of 25 students per program. Larger groups can be accommodated with advance notification. These programs are only offered at the Bay Education Center. 

Teacher & Educator Programs

Educators are learners too! Mission-Aransas Estuary Reserve at UT Marine Science Institute is proud to partner with and support teachers and educators in their mission to enhance STEM literacy. A variety of professional development and learning opportunities are offered annually for educators teaching in K-12 institutions and those teaching in museums, zoos or other informal environments. Programs are designed to connect educators to research, enhance existing knowledge and skills, and demonstrate pedagogical best practices.

Teachers On The Estuary (TOTE) Workshop

2019 Dates:

  • July 9-10: Explore research related to Hurricane Harvey and the impacts to the Mission-Aransas Estuary. Guest Researcher: Coastal Biogeochemistry Lab
    • 9am-4pm Tuesday & Wednesday at UTMSI
  • July 16-18: Explore research related to fish spawning behavior and fish sound production within the Mission-Aransas Estuary. Guest Researcher: Coastal Fisheries Research Program
    • 9am-4pm Tuesday, 11am-6pm Wednesday (7-9pm boat trip, voluntary) & 9am-1pm Thursday at UTMSI

This FREE engaging and field-based workshop is designed to help middle and high school teachers and educators bring estuarine and environmental STEM concepts and practices into their classroom, laboratory and field programs. TOTE workshops are a minimum of 15 contact hours (2-3 day workshop), giving teachers the opportunity to explore coastal habitats and conduct field investigations, interact with local scientists and experienced coastal educators, integrate local and national monitoring data into classroom-based lessons, and engage in hands-on field activities.

Workshops are offered in July and themes change annually, each touching upon resilient coastal environments and organisms and human-estuary connections. All TOTE and Estuaries 101 Curriculum are aligned to national and state standards for science learning.This workshop and its associated resources are provided in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Workshop participants will receive, 

  • Free to educators working/teaching within Texas.

Workshop participants receive,

  • Hands-on instruction featuring locally relevant research and interaction with scientists who conduct it
  • Supplies for the classroom, field or laboratory activities ($200 value)
  • Visitation to and exploration of unique estuarine and research sites
  • Access to free, downloadable Estuary 101 digital lesson plans, data sets and estuarine resources

Scroll down for TOTE Workshop flyer. To registrer, please complete the TOTE Registration Form

Project WILD Workshops

Project WILD is an interdisciplinary conservation and environmental education program emphasizing wildlife, and is based on educational standards, developed by scientists, and reviewed and field-tested by educators. The goal of a Project WILD workshop is to enhance an educator’s ability to assist learners, of any age, in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment resulting in informed decisions, responsible behavior, and constructive actions concerning wildlife and the environment.

Project WILD Workshops are scheduled by request.  Fee is $35 per teacher/educator (includes resource books, materials and a meal) for 4-6 hour workshops, and $55 per teacher/educator for 10-12 hour workshops. 

  •  Project WILD (K-12): 6 hours
  • Aquatic WILD (K-12): 6 hours
  • Growing Up WILD (preK-2): 4 hours
  • Combination Workshops (two topics): 10-12 hours

For more information or to scehdule a Project WILD Workshop, contact Kristin Evans,

Marine Science Education Center & Wetland Education Center Trail System

The Marine Science Education Center (MSEC) on the campus of UT Marine Science Institute offers a window into the research and wildlife found within the Mission-Aransas Estuary as well as the surrounding coastal and Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. Engage with the Estuary Explorium's interactive and interpretive graphics, view the living displays of the aquarium or do a little shopping in the gift shop. 

Stroll on over to the nearby Wetland Education Center (WEC) Trail System, which includes the Dunescape trails and the Waterwise and Native Plant Garden trails, to view diverse coastal and estuary habitats and wildlife. 

Bay Education Center (BEC)

Visit the Bay Education Center in Rockport, Texas to learn about the Mission-Aransas Estuary Reserve and its unique ecosystems, wildlife and conservation and research programs. Explore the hands-on exhibits or join a Science On A Sphere program. Interested in visiting other field trip sites in the Rockport area? 

Mission-Aransas Estuary Educator Resoures

NOAA K-12 Estuary Education Resources

Reserve/UTMSI Educational Programs

Science On A Sphere

Mission-Aransas Reserve Photos





Students learn about fish in the pier lab at UTMSI. 

Students learn how to fly a drone for research in the summer science program. 

Students aboard the R/V Katy. 

Teachers get a tour of Fennessey Ranch and learn about freshwater wetlands and upland habitats. 
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