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.

Join or Renew Your Membership

Help Support the Museum with a 

There are many advantages to becoming a member of the Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

The reason the museum can provide a large variety of programs and exhibits for the community is largely due to member support.  State funding makes the museum possible.  Membership support enhances community outreach and the quality of exhibits and programs.

With membership support, we have helped the museum provide a high level of visitor service, education, and excitement for museum guests. You can be part of an exciting partnership to support the museum. You can join because you want to be part of preserving North Carolina’s rich maritime heritage and history. You can help support our efforts to foster curiosity and wonder at what we can learn from artifacts and interpretations from as long ago as three hundred years.

Be a part of the larger view of life through the ages on the North Carolina coast.
Join the North Carolina Maritime Museum today.

Get involved & make a difference.

All Members Receive:

  • 10% discount on most museum programs and museum store purchases.
  • Quarterly Newsletter
  • Quarterly Calendar
  • Monthly Email Newsletter
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Early Notice of Special Events
  • Bumper Sticker with the new North Carolina Maritime Museum logo.
  • Participation in “Members Only” Events and Programs.

Levels of Membership

Student – $10

Trade your membership fee for volunteer hours!  
(you must be under 21 to select this option)

Individual – $35

Priority notification of museum offerings.
Individual Discount on fee-based programs

Military Rate (Active) Individual – $20

Priority notification of museum offerings.
Individual Discount on fee-based programs.

Household – $75

Priority notification of museum offerings.
Discount on fee-based programs applies to entire family.

Military Rate (Active) Household – $60

Priority notification of museum offerings.
Discount on fee-based programs applies to entire family.

Benefactor – $300

Priority notification of museum offerings.
Discount on fee-based programs applies to entire family
Invitations to “Benefactor Only” programs and events.

Lifetime- $2,500

Lifetime membership benefits for you and your spouce.
Recognition of the Lifetime Membership plaque in the Museum Lobby.
Priority notification of museum offerings.
Discount on fee-based programs applies to entire family.
Advanced notice of and invitations to special programs and events.
Special gift.

Museum Treasure Hunt

A Teacher-Led-Tour of the North Carolina Maritime Museum

  • Use the Museum Treasure Hunt to explore North Carolina’s natural and maritime heritage. Take a few minutes to explore each exhibit, and then ask the group these questions. 
  • Groups must be divided into smaller groups of ten or fewer students and assigned a chaperone to discuss the questions. Each small group may start at any exhibit, but must stay together while in the museum.


  • These are models of real fish–life-size and life-like. What are other kinds of models you know about?
  • What fish do you see that you have caught? read about? learned about? 
  • Which is the most interesting fish you see? 
  • Even though two animals here are called a dolphin, how are they different?
  • Describe similarities and differences between a sea turtle and a land turtle—their shells, where they spend their life, how their feet differ, where they lay eggs? 
  • What are some items found on the shipwreck believed to be Blackbeard’s flagship (the ship that carries the fleet commander and bears his flag)? 
  • What are some problems created when we throw trash into the water?

Exhibit Hall


  • What kinds of fossil animals are found in coastal North Carolina?
  • Find the name of one invertebrate, one marine vertebrate, and one land animal.

N.C. Working Watercraft

  • What types of boats were used in North Carolina waters in the 1700s and 1800s? 
  • What were some uses for boats before the 1900s? 
  • How are boats used today? 
  • What is the North Carolina state boat? 
  • Note the construction of the Core Sound Sharpie suspended from the ceiling.

Commercial Fishing

  • Whaling was a means of making money along the barrier islands of North Carolina from the 1600s through the early 1900s. What two products were made from or taken from whales. 
  • What fishing industries were part of North Carolina’s commercial fishing history of the 1800s? 
  • Point out some of different methods and equipment fishermen use to catch fish? 
  • What kind of boats and nets are used to catch shrimp?
  • Find the purse boats on the large menhaden fishing boat model. These boats put out the net, surround the fish, then pull the school together like the drawstring of a purse.  What products were made from the menhaden?

Waterfowl Decoys of North Carolina (exhibit in progress)

  • Find three different types of waterfowl hunted in eastern North Carolina.
  • Where do these birds spend the summer? Winter?

Down to the Depths (exhibit in progress)

  • What was this bell used for? Where?
  • How were deep sea diving suits used? Where did their air supply come from?

Venomous snakes

  • What types of poisonous snakes are found in eastern North Carolina?
  • Note the habitats where each lives and what each snake eats.

Coastal Marine Life (due to budget cuts aquariums are temporarily shut down)

  • Name several kinds of fish that you find in the aquariums and exhibits. 
  • Find the animals that live in a shell? 
  • Find two ways animals can protect themselves with colors and patterns. 
  • Fouling organisms are those that attach to a hard surface. Name two places where animals and plants can find a hard surface in the water. 
  • Can you find two animals that burrow for protection? 
  • Find an animal that is camouflaged to capture prey (food) or hide from enemies (predators).
  • What are some ways a bird is adapted to its environment? 
  • What are some threats to coastal waters from upstream activities? 
  • What is one way that seaweeds protect themselves from being eaten by fish? 
  • NC has a great variety of beautiful shells. What are some ways these shells can be grouped?
  • Name two mollusks that lay egg cases?

Throw away the Oars – Outboard Motors

  • How are the motors arranged? 
  • What are some items in the workshop that tell you it is not from the 1800s? 
  • Do you think it is a working shop of today? What are your reasons? 
  • The Silver Clipper was one of the first types of motorboats used just for enjoyment. What are some boats used today for recreation?

Solders of Surf and Storm—Lighthouses & Lifesaving

  • Find the lighthouse lens and count how many pieces of angled glass make up the light. Why do you think it is built this way? How far away could this light be seen?
  • What were some responsibilities of lighthouse keepers? 
  • What are some ways that people were rescued from ships and brought to shore in the late 1800s? 
  • Name some ways people are rescued and brought to safety from ships in distress at sea today?


  • Do you know an important star that is used for navigation?
  • What is the name of the instrument used for navigation by the stars?
  • What imaginary lines on the earth are used for navigation?

Queen Anne’s Revenge

During The Golden Age of Piracy (1689-1718), numerous rogues pursued their lawless and murderous trade throughout the New World. Restrictive laws passed by the British Parliament had made smuggling acceptable and even desirable in North Carolina and the other American colonies. Preying upon lightly armed merchant ships, the pirates seized their contents and sometimes killed those who resisted. Because of its shallow sounds and inlets, North Carolina’s Outer Banks became a haven for many of these outlaws in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort is the Department of Cultural Resource’s designated repository for all archaeological artifacts and project records from the wreck presumed to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR).

The Museum staff fully embrace their responsibilities associated with the QAR project. The museum’s professional educators and curators recognize the potential of the QAR collection to serve as a catalyst to generate great excitement and interest in North Carolina’s earliest maritime history and heritage. The QAR is the most significant underwater archaeological site yet discovered in the Americas. The museum’s staff recognizes that the professional exhibition and interpretation of this unique collection will help drive the museum’s education mission while promoting economic development via heritage tourism across North Carolina’s Coastal Plain.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum is charged with managing the QAR collection. All artifacts and records are to be kept as an intact collection. The storing, exhibiting, and interpreting of all QAR artifacts is to be managed by the Museum. The vessel structure, ship’s fittings, weapons, personal effects, and non-precious cargo are to become part of the Museum’s permanent collection, with long-term collection care and conservation also the responsibility of the Museum.