Field Trips


Tribute to Stephen Hillenburg

Prior to 1999, Stephen Hillenburg worked at Ocean Institute as a science instructor, facilitating learning to students of all ages.  He was fascinated by the incredible awe students experienced during interactions with the ocean and marine life.  He coupled that fascination with his own passion for animation and, as they say, a star was born.

Working across several learning platforms, Stephen Hillenburg often worked on The Pilgrim, Ocean Institute’s iconic Tallship, and led instructional learning on floating labs and during educational camps.  Bringing in a hint of comedy to everything he created, he also co-authored an underground Ocean Institute magazine called The Chortler, which became known among Ocean Institute’s employees for its humor.

Stephen Hillenburg is a hero for Ocean Institute and the youth that we serve.  He spurred what we now know – that blending science art can drive interest from one to the other, and with thanks to Spongebob, nearly every student answers “YES” when we ask if they have heard of Plankton.   Although most of them are referring to the cartoon character, “Plankton” from Spongebob, which is in fact a copepod (a type of plankton).

Stephen Hillenburg’s success with combining art and science has inspired our ArtSea series here at Ocean Institute. We bring artists into our learning labs and teach students about marine biology- and then they learn artistic techniques to represent what they have learned.  We are thankful for Stephen Hillenburg paving the way for students to understand that science and creativity mix well together.

Everywhere we look we are reminded of Stephen Hilgenberg and the laughter he brought to millions.  We are overwhelmed by this loss as well as the innovation he brought to educating children.  Stephen Hillenburg will be missed by many.



Free teacher membership
Admission, discounts & early registration, and special events!

The Ocean Institute is excited to offer a free individual membership to all teachers! 

The membership includes year-round admission to the Ocean Institute, discount on activities such as whale watching, early registration for special events, and 10% off at the Laurena G. Chambers Gallery Book and Gift store. 

Visit us this summer to be inspired by our STEM offerings, and get some ideas to take back to your classroom! 


Teacher Appreciation Day

Thank you to the teachers who joined us for our Teacher Appreciation Day on Saturday, April 23.

The teachers enjoyed lunch and learned about Ocean Institute’s exciting STEM-driven programs and how Ocean Institute is ready for NGSS!

Following lunch, the teachers moved cargo like a sailor, tested their team building by crossing a river with platagators, and analyzed water samples on our Maddie James Seaside Learning Center. These are all authentic-learning activities their students would complete during a field trip to the Ocean Institute.