Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

All Courses are 2 hours unless otherwise noted

* Denotes a Core Course in which all groups participate

The EBOA offers a wide variety of NGSS courses and is committed to working with each school to ensure each individual’s needs are met. Below is a list of the various modules that we offer. To build your own adventure, please contact the Director of Sales and Marketing, Alix Fulham [email protected]

Core Courses

*Island Biogeography


With over 60 species of plants and animals that can only be found on the island, Catalina provides the perfect backdrop to explore the unique and isolated ecosystems of islands. Students will examine how and why species ended up on the island, how they have adapted to living in their new homes, and how disturbance from humans or foreign pests can pose a significant threat.


*Environmental Stewardship


Even though we may not see it, our daily lives are increasingly taking their toll on the natural world. Students will participate in a conservation project to benefit Catalina Island, learn about the benefits of composting food waste, and brainstorm proactive ways they can reduce their impact and be environmental stewards at home and in their communities.


*Kelp Forest Exploration (4-hour course)


One of the world’s most productive and diverse habitats, Giant Kelp beds are home to diverse and thriving communities of fish, invertebrates and algae. Students will visit the Pennington Marine Science Center to become familiar with local kelp forest species in the aquariums and touch tanks, learn about unique structures of kelp and the conditions in which it thrives, and will explore the kelp forests of Emerald Bay on a kayak, paddleboard, or snorkel trip.

*Kelp Forest Exploration II (4 & 5-Day Programs Only)


Kelp Forest Exploration II offers continued learning about kelp forests through the lens of systems and energy flow. Students will be guided in their exploration as they identify the components of a kelp forest ecosystem and create explanations for how energy and matter pass through the system.

Daytime Courses and Activities

Ichthyology Lab


Globally, fish provide food for more than 1.5 billion people each year, but most people have never seen a fish in the wild. In the class, students will identify features and adaptations during a sketching and dissection session.


Plankton Lab


They may be microscopic, but phytoplankton are responsible for producing up to 50% of Earth’s oxygen. Students will learn how scientists collect plankton from the ocean, will examine and identify plankton under a microscope, and will design their own plankton in a neutral buoyancy competition.

Microplastics Lab


Working its way up the food chain at alarming rates, microplastics are filling the guts of fish, birds, marine mammals, and even humans. Students learn about the different types of plastic, will collect their own samples of sand from the beach to look for microplastics and explore their samples under a microscope, and brainstorm what they can do to reduce plastic waste and make a positive difference for our oceans.


Climate Change Lab


Is the world really getting warmer or is the Earth just going through a natural cycle? Students will learn about heat capacity and complete a lab on greenhouse gases to determine their effect, if any, on climate.



Archery is about focus and concentration. At the archery range students will exercise their growth mindset while practicing and improving skills under the supervision of the range commander.


Arrow Point Hike


Enjoy incredible views of the land and sea on a 1.5 mile hike to Arrow Point. The Arrow Point hike offers students a manageable challenge while practicing growth mindset. Student curiosity is sparked as we observe wildflowers, birds, animals, and more!


Team Building


In their Animal Groups, students will be challenged to communicate and collaborate with each other in increasingly difficult activities.

Ocean Invertebrates & Intertidal Zonation


When land meets sea, the changing tide creates dynamic intertidal zones, one of the harshest environments. Taught on the beach in Doctor’s Cove and at the Pennington Marine Science Center, students observe first-hand how ocean invertebrates have adapted to survive life on the edge.






Additional Water Activity (4- & 5-Day Programs Only)


Students will apply a growth mindset as they learn a new skill of snorkeling, paddleboarding, or kayaking in and around Emerald Bay while observing local wildlife above and below the surface of our crystal-clear water.

2-Session All-School Hike to Parson’s Beach (4- & 5-Day Programs Only)


Longer programs offer the option to explore more of Catalina! Naturalists will lead students in a 2 ¼ mile round trip hike to Parson’s Beach to learn more about the native ecosystems of Catalina Island and enjoy a beach snack and build kelp forest ecosystem models using found materials.

Night Courses and Activities



Since the dawn of man, humans have been captivated by the vast unknown that fills the night sky. Students will model the phases of the moon, learn how to use a planisphere to identify constellations, and take a short hike to observe the night sky.


Nocturnal Wonderland


Catalina Island leads a double life. Students will investigate why some animals wait for sundown to emerge and will go on the hunt to locate some of our nocturnal neighbors around camp while participating in activities that help them learn about nocturnal adaptations.


Campfire & S’mores


Our staff will build your campfire and provide the ingredients for S’mores. From there, your campfire is your time to enjoy with your school however you would like – performing skits, singing songs, sharing stories, or reflecting on your time at Emerald Bay.

Dance Party


For those schools with students that like to let loose, we will set up a dance party in the dining hall with student-appropriate music.


Movie Night


After a long day of exploring Catalina Island, allow your students to kick back and enjoy a movie. We will provide a family friendly DVD or feel free to bring your own.


Night Kayak (5-Day Programs Only)

What is better than paddling underneath the moon and stars? Students will enjoy a tranquil and memorable kayak trip around Emerald Bay while searching for bioluminescence and other nighttime sights.

Night Snorkel (5-Day Programs Only)

For groups that have completed Snorkeling I, make a return trip to Doctor’s Cove but this time – at night! In addition to the standard snorkel gear, students will also don a glow stick and a dive light for this unforgettable experience.  For those students who may not be comfortable with a night snorkel, we will set up a beach campfire so they can still enjoy the experience with their group!