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Animal Encounters

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  • Enjoy fun, active learning with hands-on investigations of live animals and rare biofacts.
  • Inspire scientific literacy and inquiry, encouraging students to think critically and creatively. 
  • Promote interest and understanding of STEM with hands-on applications of science.
  • Support Common Core and 3-Dimensional Learning of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
  • We offer a variety of Classroom Programs for Pre-K to grade 12. Click below for more information!


There are four topics to choose from, and each topic has options for every grade group from Pre-K to 12. The younger grade groups typically address up through grade 3, and middle grades usually range from grade 4 to 8. Older grades refer to high school students, however we can easily adapt up or down a grade for most class options. These topics are aligned with the Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Click here for more information on standards addressed in programs by grade.  

Topic 1 – Animal Adaptations (CCC: Structure and Function)

Younger grades can choose to focus on the adaptations of penguins or whales, and middle-older grades can choose from whales, sharks or a squid dissection, depending on the grade, to understand more about structural and behavioral adaptations.

Topic 2 – Classification (CCC: Patterns, Structure and Function)

Younger grades can choose from sorting animals into main groups such as mammals, birds, fish, etc., or discovering patterns through ocean animal movement. Older grades can dive deeply into the subject with ocean invertebrates including three phyla not found on land. High schoolers in distance learning or at the Aquarium can also focus on the comparative evolution of marine mammals.

Topic 3 – Habitats & Ecosystems (CCC: Energy and Matter, Systems and System Models)

All grades have an option of specifically focusing on the Long Island Sound ecosystem and local aquatic habitats. Younger grades can also choose to focus on an overview of ocean habitats and the animals found there, or they can specifically learn more about the relationships of animals within a coral reef community. Middle grades have an added option of learning about the balance of ocean food webs. Older grades also have the option to focus on ecosystem approaches to conservation of threatened species.

Topic 4 – Humans and the Ocean (CCC: Stability and Change; Cause and Effect)

Younger grades can choose from understanding beach animals and the proper etiquette of nature exploration that “leaves only footprints,” or they can specifically focus on how coastal indigenous people lived in balance with nature. Middle grades can learn about keystone species and how their survival indicates and/or affects the health of an ecosystem, such as amphibians or sharks. Older grades have a variety of choices on this topic including an overview of careers, veterinary sciences specifically, population genetics, or ecosystem approaches to species survival.

For more information on programs for high school or college groups click here.

for more information on programs for adults click here.


We can work with you and tailor a program to meet your group’s specific needs. Those looking for a more in-depth experience beyond just one class can contact our Education Department to create an engaging, multi-part program. Activities can take place virtually, at the Aquarium, at your location, or on the coast! Contact the Education Department today at EducationInfo@MysticAquarium.org.


After reviewing the Classroom Program Topics, please complete the form in the button below to request a reservation for a group visit and education programs, whether at the Aquarium, at your location, or through distance learning. If you need more information or a quote for multiple/package programs, please contact us at EducationInfo@MysticAquarium.org or 860.572.5955 x431.