Educational Services Guide

Educational services of the North Carolina Maritime Museum are designed to interpret all aspects of the state’s diverse coastal natural history and rich maritime heritage.

The Museum Calendar lists programs, field trips, and special events for the general public. 

Educational services are offered to school, civic, and special needs groups.  They are designed for specific grade or age levels and are correlated with state science and social studies curricula guidelines.  See details below.   

  • Tours
  • Videos
  • Special Group Programs
  • Field Trips
  • Cape Lookout Studies Program

Annual programs: Summer Science School, Junior Sailing Program, Adult Learn to Sail Programs, Wooden Boat Show, and Watercraft Center Classes.




(3) CONTACT THE MUSEUM.  Reservations should be made at least two weeks before the planned visit.  Call between 8 AM and 4 PM Monday through Friday.  To e-mail, fax, or send a reservation request, include name, group name, mailing address, phone, fax, e-mail address, desired date and time for a visit and/or program.  Reservations should be made at least two weeks before the planned visit.  Call between 8 AM and 4 PM Monday through Friday.  To e-mail, fax, or send a reservation request, include name, group name, mailing address, phone, fax, e-mail address, desired date and time for a visit and/or program.   

Education Branch  
North Carolina Maritime Museum
315 Front Street
Beaufort, NC 28516
Tel: 252-728-7317
Fax: 252-728-2108

When e-mailing the museum please include the following information:


*School or Organization

*Mailing address and zip code

*Telephone number and area code


Up to 60 students with chaperones may tour the exhibit area at one time.  Larger groups (up to 120 students) are divided and rotated between the exhibit area, an auditorium program, and the museum’s Watercraft Center.

After a group is scheduled, a confirmation form, bus parking information, and other requested materials are sent to the teacher/leader. 

If a change or cancellation is necessary or if the group is delayed, the museum must be notified as soon as possible. Groups arriving before or after scheduled times are accommodated as the museum schedule for other groups allows. 

There is no admission charge for tours and programs in the museum.  Field trip and outreach program fees are due the day of the trip/program.  Checks are made payable to the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

All student groups must have one teacher or chaperone per 10 students.  The chaperone is responsible for student behavior and discipline while in the museum.  Unsupervised students and unruly groups will be asked to leave.

Upon arrival, the teacher checks in at the museum reception desk while the students wait outside.  Buses may unload and load in the five-minute parking zone in front of the museum.  Bus parking maps (in JPEG format) are sent with confirmation of visit. 




SELF-GUIDED OR TEACHERLED TOURS of the exhibit area may be scheduled to begin weekdays from 9 AM to 4 PM, Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM and Sunday from 1 PM to 4 PM.    

Guide to the Museum is available at the reception desk for group leaders to use for self-guided tours.  

The Museum Treasure Hunts help students learn in the museum.  The Sea Hunt, a one-page hand-out, has pictures the group leaders use to help grades K-3 look for exhibit items (20 minutes).  Group leaders for grades 4 through high school use the questions listed on the Museum Treasure Hunt to help students learn about history and natural history featured in the exhibits (45 minutes).  

GUIDED TOURS are led by a museum guide and are tailored for each grade level.  (45 minutes; 20 students maximum). Monday-Friday 9 AM – 3 PM.  

DISCOVERY CARTSare stocked with marine specimens and nautical artifacts that can be handled and discussed.  Museum volunteers at each cart offer visitors the opportunity to learn more and ask questions about exhibits, coastal organisms, and maritime subjects.  Volunteers can accommodate 10 students at a cart at one time.  

VIDEOSare shown in the museum auditorium to supplement a study topic during a museum visit.  The museum can seat up to 60 students.  Monday‑Friday, 9 AM – 4 PM.  

Topics on coastal natural history:

1.  A Beautiful Day (K-2nd)  
Children explore the variety of organisms living in an estuary.  (14 minutes)  

2.  Waters of Life (2nd grade-adult)  
The unique features, natural history, and ecology of the N.C.’s estuaries. (17 minutes)  

3.  Trashing the Oceans (2nd grade‑adult)  
Problems and hazards of plastic trash in our oceans. (8 minutes)  

4.  Shadows in the Night: The Loggerhead Legacy (2nd grade-adult)  
The life of the threatened loggerhead sea turtle. (17 minutes)  

5.  Secrets of the Shark (3rd grade-adult)  
A close look at life histories and habits of sharks.  (30 minutes)  

6.  Life in a Salt Marsh (3rd grade-adult)  
The ecology and organisms of the salt marsh. (30 minutes)  

7.  Rivers of Sand: Exploring Barrier Islands (5th grade-adult)  
Features the dynamic beauty, wildlife, and ecology of barrier islands. (30 minutes)  

8.  Fire in the Longleaf (6th grade – adult)  
Explores the longleaf pine savannah. (12 minutes)  

9.  The Horses of Shackleford Banks (7th grade-adult)  
Population dynamics of feral horses on a barrier island near Beaufort, N.C. (17 minutes)  

Topics on earth science:

1.  Wind and Waves (5th grade-adult)  
The power of wind and waves sink ships, reshape coastlines, and affect worldwide climate. (30 minutes)  

2.  Undersea Oases: The Science of Hardbottoms (6th grade-adult)  
The geology and marine life on rocky outcrops along the continental shelf and their importance as a marine habitat. (15 minutes)  

Topics on social studies and maritime history:

1.  The Beaufort Inlet Shipwreck Project (3rd grade-adult)  
The search for Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s flagship that sank near Beaufort in 1718. (7 minutes.  A 60-minute video, Blackbeard’s Revenge, is available for groups with more time.)  

2.  Ports and Pilots (3rd grade-adult)  
A student learns first hand about the role of a harbor pilot at the Morehead City State Port. (25 minutes)  

3.  Ferry Boats (3rd grade-adult)  
A student learns first hand about ferry boats in coastal N.C. (25 minutes)  

4.  Down to the Monitor (4th grade-adult)  
The story of the Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor, and its rediscovery off Cape Hatteras. (25 minutes)  

5.  Chicamacomico (4th grade-adult)  
The history of a famous lifesaving station on the Outer Banks. (35 minutes)  

6.  Menhaden: Soybean of the Sea (4th grade-adult)  
This traditional coastal industry is illustrated from catching the menhaden to preparing fish oil and meal. (16 minutes)  

7.  Graveyard of the Atlantic and Pacific (5th grade-adult)  
A comparison of shipwreck history in two oceans. (30 minutes)  

SPECIAL GROUP PROGRAMSoffered in the museum or as outreach to schools and other organizations include slide presentations, narration, hands-on activities, and/or music. Tuesday‑Friday, 9 AM –3 PM.  

There is no charge for programs presented in the museum.  The fee is $30 for each outreach program presented within 50 miles of the museum.  Additional fees may include: $10 for every 50 miles beyond Beaufort and presenter expenses for meals and lodging (state rates).  

Environmental Education:

1.  Aquarium Animals  (K – 3rd grade)  
Presentation about the animals housed in the museum’s aquaria.  Students sit in the aquarium gallery to hear where the animals live, what foods they eat, and who their predators are. (15 minutes)  

2. Coastal Birds and Their Habitats  (K – adult)  
The common coastal birds of N.C., including habitats and identifying  characteristics.  (30-45 minutes)  

3.  Marsh Metaphors  (2nd – 8th grade)  
Plants and animals of the salt marsh and the functions of a wetland. (30 minutes)  

4.  Insect-Eating Plants  (2nd – 8th grades)  
Carnivorous plants and how they attract and capture prey.  (30 minutes)  

5.  The Fingerprints of Trees (2nd grade – adult)  
Examines coastal trees and their unique leaf shapes.  (30 minutes)  

6.  Marine Mammals  (3rd grade – adult)  
The life histories and conservation issues of dolphins and whales in N.C. waters.  (30 minutes)  

7.  Coastal Fossils and Geologic History of North Carolina (5th grade – adult) Geologic changes of the coastal plain and the fossil evidence of the last 60 million years.  (30-45 minutes)  

8.  Endangered Species – Endangered Habitat  (6th grade-adult)  
Discussion of human impact on biodiversity.  (30 minutes)  

9.  Exploring Ecosystems (6th grade-adult)  
A discussion of three important ecosystems of the Americas, the coastal salt marsh, high mountains, and tropical rainforest.  (45 minutes)  

10.  Global Environmental Issues  (6th grade – adult)  
Overview of the effects of human activities on the planet, especially the depletion of the world’s oceans, coastal population increase, and rising sea level.  (30 minutes)  

11.  Barrier Island Ecology  (6th grade – adult)  
The unique conditions for the plants and animals living on barrier islands.  (30 minutes)  

12.  Mysterious Mushrooms  (6th grade – adult)  
Diversity of mushrooms with tips on identification and edibility.  (30 – 40 minutes)  

13.  Edible Wild Plants  (6th grade – adult)  
Plants on the coastal plain that are edible or were used by early settlers. (30 – 40 minutes)  

14.   Wildflowers and Carnivorous Plants  (6th grade – adult)  
Unique plants that inhabit pocosins and pine savannahs on the coastal plain.  (30 – 40 minutes)  

North Carolina Maritime Culture and History:  

1.  Pirates of North Carolina (K – adult)  
A review of the history and lore of pirates, including an update on Blackbeard and his flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.  (30 minutes)  

2.  Discoveries in the New World  (3rd grade – adult)  
Traces Columbus’ first voyages to the New World – weather, navigation, and animals and plants recorded during these explorations.  (40 minutes)  

3.  Portsmouth  (4th grade – adult)  
Life on Portsmouth Island on Core Banks in the early 1900s.  (20 minutes)  

4.  Life Along the Banks  (4th grade – adult)  
The history and natural resources of barrier islands of N.C.  (45 minutes)  

5.  Commercial Fisheries in North Carolina  (5th grade – adult)  
A review of oystering, shrimping, scalloping, and other important fisheries in coastal waters.  (30 minutes)  

6.  Rivers: Highways of History  (5th grade – adult)  
Traces the ecosystems and wildlife from the mountains to the sea as well as the use of boats on the waterways from the 1700s to present.  (30 minutes)  

7.  Nautical Artifacts (7th grade – adult)  
An exercise in learning about items that are used aboard ships.  Correlated with the 8th grade curriculum for Carteret County Schools.  

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FIELD TRIPS are designed for classes studying coastal ecology or related science topics and are led by certified environmental educators.  (Monday-Friday, 9 AM-3 PM, March to November)  

Class size is limited for each trip and one chaperone for every 10 students is required.  

Tidal flat, salt marsh, and Rachel Carson Reserve trips are scheduled to coincide with a low tide and require walking in shallow water and mud.  

1.  Tidal Flat and Salt Marsh (preschool-adult, $30 fee)  
Investigate a sand flat and adjacent salt marsh to study intertidal organisms and their adaptations, food chains, productivity, and the estuarine nursery area.  A seine net is pulled in shallow water to view a sample of marine animals.  
(1˝ hours; maximum of 30 participants)  

2.  Beaufort Walk (4th grade – adult, $5 fee/adult, $2 fee/student, $30 minimum)  
Begin at the museum observation deck and take a walking tour of Beaufort to hear stories and view gardens and historic points of interest. (2 hours; maximum of 15 participants)  

3.  Rachel Carson Reserve  (4th grade-adult; $5 fee/person – $60 minimum fee for groups of 12 or fewer)  
This island component of the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserves provides opportunities to study dune plants, feral horses, and organisms of intertidal mud flats and sounds.  Participants cross Beaufort’s harbor by boat, wade in shallow water, and walk ˝ mile across a mud flat to the beach. (2˝ ‑3 hours; maximum of 30 participants)  

4.  Marine Life Collecting Cruise  (6th grade-adult; $200 fee)  
After an orientation in the museum participants board a research vessel equipped with sampling-sized commercial fishing gear to collect and observe estuarine and ocean organisms. Discussion focuses on species identification and natural history. (2˝ hours; maximum of 20 participants)    

5. Croatan National Forest  (5th grade-adult; $30 fee)  
Longleaf pine, pocosin, and pond habitats west of Morehead City provide the setting to study woodland organisms and their adaptations to the environment. Insect‑eating plants are highlighted. (2 – 3 hours; maximum of 20 participants)   

6.  Kayaking the Estuaries (7th grade – adult, $25 fee/ person)

Suitable for beginning to advanced kayakers.  Groups kayak through and study estuaries and learn about currents and tides, and navigation.  The program includes on hour of preparation/instruction; two hours of paddling; and 30 minutes of clean up. (3 ˝ hours; maximum of 10 participants, 4 person minimum).  

(8th grade-adult)  
This program offers opportunities for groups of up to 16 people to study barrier islands and estuarine environments while staying at the museum field station on Cape Lookout National Seashore.  Detailed information and a fee schedule are detailed on the website or available upon request.