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!

Check out our At Home Learning Engagements for student-friendly activities for use in the classroom or at home. 

We are offering a variety of FREE virtual K12 Programs for the 2020-2021 academic year. For more information, or to schedule a program for your students please contact us at

Talk Science with Me: Bring Mission-Aransas Reserve and University of Texas Marine Science Institute scientists into the classroom to share their research, career pathways, and how their work benefits our communities and everyday lives. Our scientists study marine and coastal environments in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world, looking at the biology geology, chemistry, and physics of these diverse systems. Students are encouraged to ask questions and share their thoughts during these live, virtual connections. Grades: 5-12. Duration: ~30 minutes. Scroll down to download available program descriptions.  To register for upcoming programs, complete this Talk Science Program Registration Form. Upcoming programs, 

  • December 17, 2020 10:00-10:30am. How do fish breathe underwater? Angelina Dichiera, Graduate Research Assistant (Ph.D. Student)
  • January 14, 2021 11:00-11:30am. How do fish breathe underwater? Angelina Dichiera, Graduate Research Assistant (Ph.D. Student)
  • January 28, 2021 10:00-10:30am. The Value of Basic Research in Marine Science. Dr. Andrew Esbaugh

Estuary Exploration: Come visit our living classroom, the Wetlands Education Center, for an interactive estuary learning experience. Students will "visit" a coastal estuary to learn how plants and animals are adapted to live in these unique and sometimes harsh environments. Through observation, documentation, and discussion students will investigate how organisms are adapted to life in an estuarine environment. Grades 4-8. Duration: 30 minutes. Programs available: Tuesday- Friday, 9:00am-2:00pm. Launching January 4, 2021.

Science On the Sphere Explorer: These interactive virtual programs encourage students to use observation and critical thinking skills as they explore earth, atmospheric, and ocean systems using data visualizations and satellite imagery. Explorations vary and can include climate and weather patterns, ocean currents, geologic formations, or hurricanes. Duration: 30 minutes. Programs available Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday 9:00am- 12:00pm. Grades 4-12. Launching January 4, 2021.

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

2020 Dates: Virtual Program (REGISTRATION CLOSED- FULL)

  • October 15-November 5, 2020: Weekly sessions (4), Thursdays at 6:00-8:00pm CST 

TOTE workshops are 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. 

This year, TOTE goes virtual giving teachers the opportunity to conduct field investigations, interact with local scientists and integrate environmental monitoring data into the classroom-- all while practicing safe physical distancing! Participating teachers will engae in a variety of activities that model and support student-centered learning and virtual connections through the use of field/nature journals. Activities will demonstrate the benefits of using journals to support scientific process skills and content understanding, as well as model strategies for in-person and virtual implementation. 

FREE to educators working/teaching within Texas and beyond.

Workshop participants receive,

  • Four synchronous weekly sessions (Zoom), plus additional self-directed assignments
  • Minimum of 15 instructional hours; facilitated and self-directed
  • Field/nature journal activities linked to local research and monitoring projects
  • Live interactions with regional scientists and content experts
  • Workshop supply kit: sketch book, curricular guide to field/nature journaling, watercolor pencils, pens, digital resources, tote bag, & tasty snacks ($200)
  • Access to free, downloadable Estuary Education Resources-- digital lesson plans, data sets and estuary resources
  • Opportunity to join a Field Day at Mission-Aransas NERR in 2021 (date TBD)

Scroll down for TOTE Workshop flyer. To registrer, please complete the registration form to reserve your space. Registation is not confirmed until you receive notification from TOTE faciliators. For more information, contact Kristin Evans at

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. 
tote_flyer_text_2020_virtual.pdf629 KB
talk_science_with_me_program_descriptions_2020_nov_dec.pdf185 KB