Key to the Sea

Key to the Sea is a revolutionary marine environmental education program designed for teachers and elementary school children (K-5) throughout LA County. Heal the Bay and our Partners educate teachers and students alike in watershed stewardship, storm water pollution prevention and marine conservation—through free teacher professional development workshops, classroom activities and a hands on beach science field trip*.

*Some fees may apply depending upon location.

If you have questions about Key to the Sea, call 310-393-6149 x108, or fill out the form below.


Register Now

Registration is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Contact one of the partnering aquariums to book a trip date and time for a Key to the Sea field trip to the beach.
  2. Click the “registration” button to register for a workshop (you must have a field trip date scheduled to register)
  3. Confirm all dates, locations and times – get ready to connect your classroom to the ocean!

Post Program Evaluation

Your feedback is important to us!  Now that you’ve brought your students to the beach for a Key to the Sea field trip, please take a moment to tell us what you thought of the experience. Select the evaluation link below that matches your last completed workshop.

Dive Deeper

What will we learn? What will students learn? 

Teacher Professional Development: The Key to the Sea program begins with teachers attending a hands-on and engaging workshop designed to familiarize them with the content, activities and logistics of the program. The workshops are a wonderful way to inform the teacher on current environmental issues and provide activities to use in the classroom.

During Workshop I (6 hours) for first-year program participants, teachers receive the tools they need to conduct both pre- and post-field trip educational activities in their classrooms and to prepare their students to get the most out of their field trip. This includes a multidisciplinary standards-based curriculum guide and a complete ready-to-use curriculum materials kit.

Second year teachers participate in Workshop II (6 hours), which provides more in-depth instruction on organisms, specific adaptations to the sandy beach environment, waves and tides, seafood sustainability, and additional activities.  It includes “make-and-take” teaching tools, like the trash timeline, which teachers make during the workshop and take with them to use back in the classroom.  It also includes a curriculum guide.

Classroom Enrichment: At the Professional Development workshop, teachers receive pre- and post-field trip activities with standards-aligned lesson plans and accompanying materials.  The activities provide classroom enrichment connected to topics addressed within the curriculum units and the California State Science Standards.  Topics include: the Los Angeles area watershed, marine pollution and debris, storm drain and sewer systems, urban runoff, permeability, connections to the sea in everyday living and the ecology of the sandy beach environment. Classroom enrichment reinforces and extends the experience, resulting in meaningful learning for students as well as the teacher.

 Field Trip for Kindergarten-5th Grade Classes:  The students visit a local marine science center for our outdoor Beach Exploration environmental education program.  Led by naturalists trained by Heal the Bay and partnering facilities, children use scientific equipment to explore the beach through fun, hands-on, educational activities.  Sites include Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (San Pedro), Roundhouse Marine Laboratory and Aquarium (Manhattan Beach), S.E.A. Laboratory (Redondo Beach), and Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.  The Beach Exploration activities are designed to encourage students to use their senses, increase their observation skills and develop their sense of wonder.  Children smell the salty air, hear the roaring surf, use binoculars to observe bird behavior, and often see dolphins!  They survey the organisms of the “wet zone” and “dry zone” of the beach, dig for sand crabs and bean clams, and examine beach wrack with magnifying lenses.  The children see first hand the marine pollution and debris, learn how it impacts marine life, and make the connections to pollution prevention behaviors.