Field-Based Programs

The museum’s Chesapeake Bay Field Lab (CBFL) offers experiential, field-based programs for students in grades 4 - 12. All CBFL programs are seasonal, taking place from April through October. These include programs on our historic buyboat WM B TENNISON and our Fossil Field Experience.

Ask about Maryland state funding for your program.

How to Schedule a Fieldtrip

The Museum Experience

The museum-based experience will engage the students while they explore all that the museum has to offer during an hour-and-a-half-long self-guided museum tour.  A half-hour break for lunch is built into this portion of the program. 

On Board Experience

The WM B TENNISON serves as the museum’s floating classroom.   The program is designed to immerse the students in an unforgettable two-hour-long field-based experience – rain or shine.

The Chesapeake Bay Field Lab Program can accommodate up to 70 students and 8 adults divided into two groups per day.  

Students will rotate through different learning stations during the two-hour cruise.
Stations Aboard the WM B TENNISON*

Water quality testing:  Students get hands-on experience testing our local waters. After analyzing their sample, students will explore how changes to the levels of pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, salinity, and dissolved oxygen can affect various species of fish.

Navigation:  Students get hands-on experience with compasses and navigational charts, and compare those to maps. Students will learn how sailors know where they are and how to get where they are going using a parallel rule and the compass rose.

Oysters:  Students will have the chance to set the dredge for oysters and pull it in to see what they caught. We will explore the remarkable ecosystem that calls an oyster bar home. Students will learn the life cycle of an oyster and learn why these shellfish are threatened.

Blue Crabs: Students will have the opportunity to take a close look at live blue crabs, and learn about their life cycle and how they are being affected by water quality changes.

Plastics: Students will set the trawl net to collect fish from the local waterways.  After identifying the species of fish, a lavage will be performed and stomach contents investigated for plastics.  Students will learn the many ways that microplastics affect the ecosystem. 

*Stations aboard the WM B TENNISON are subject to change depending upon conditions.  In the event of severe weather, the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab Programs will take place dockside or within the museum.

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Fossil Field Adventure
(Available on Wednesdays only)

Our Fossil Field Adventure takes students onto the beach at Cove Point to search for Miocene fossils with a trained educator. The students learn how to identify fossils, how fossils are formed, and what they can teach us about the prehistoric world. Students will spend approximately two hours on the beach searching for fossils.


The Fossil Field Adventure takes place on the Chesapeake Bay at the site of the Cove Point Lighthouse, rain or shine. Students are either on the beach or working in the Visitor Center classroom.  Dates are limited and the number of participants is limited to 25 students and staff.