Explorers Science

An Introduction to the Explorers Earth Science Program


Kids on Alma Participating in Explorers Science ProgramThis program is designed to give the students a direct, hands-on understanding of the causes and effects of weather, wind, fog and tide on the San Francisco Bay Region and the ships that have worked these waters for over a century. The unique geography and weather of the California Coast and San Francisco Bay largely dictated the settlement and trade of this region and your students will examine these factors and the science behind them as they rotate through a series of education stations aboard ship.

The Explorers Earth Science Program is run aboard the Alma while sailing on San Francisco Bay. Alma is the last functioning example of a working Scow Schooner that once crowded the waters of the Bay and Delta, ferrying hay, bricks, coal, and lumber to the towns and villages along Northern California’s waterways. Since 1891 generations of Californians have worked on the Alma and your students will become part of that living tradition. Alma has been modified to comply with the Coast Guard safety standards for passenger carrying vessels and is inspected annually by the Coast Guard. Alma is operated by a professionally-licensed National Park Service Captain and crew as well as three specially trained Age of Sail Educators who teach the program, and work directly with your class.

While aboard your students will work together as they hoist and trim the Alma’s sails and rotate through learning stations while Alma sails the bay. These stations are called: Fog and Navigation, Tide and the Effects of Gravitational Attraction, Wind and Watch, and the always popular Trick at the Helm when the students actually steer the ship under the Captain’s watchful eye.

The curriculum has been based on the State Content Standards for 5th and 6th Grade Students, and is focused on math, science, and geography as well briefly touching on as history and social sciences. While any introduction to the Maritime History of San Francisco Bay is helpful please be assured that we will make certain that the students will have a fun and educational voyage, at whatever the level of preparation you were able to provide. We are also happy to customize our curriculum to fit your needs.

The Explorers program meets the State Standards requirements for the Fourth through Seventh Grade curricula, focusing on history and social studies [4.1, 5.2, 7.3, 7.9, 7.11], science [4.1, 4.5, 5.1, 5.2, 5.2, 5.4, 5.5, 6.4], and math [4th Grade Measurements and Geometry 2.0, 5th Grade Algebra and Functions 1.0, 6th Grade Algebra and Functions 2.0.

You will sail the beautiful yet challenging waters of San Francisco Bay with the exhilaration of the wind at your back, the sun on your face and a solid tall ship under your feet. Watch as your class becomes an intrepid crew of Explorers! You may combine your Age of Sail overnight with a morning sail as an optional add-on program.

The paid minimum number of participants is 27 students and 6 adults (plus one teacher). Actual minimum number of participants is flexible, maximum participants is 35 students and 8 adults in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

  • Cost:
    Base rate is $1,500
    $55 per student
  • Two Sailing Seasons:
    Fall sailing season extends from late September until Thanksgiving.
    Spring sailing season begins in April and runs until mid-June.
  • Time:
    8:30 A.M. – 12:00 Noon
    12:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. (we are happy to adjust timing if needed)
    Program Manuals:
    Explorers teachers manual PDF format, 17 pages/1.89 MB.
    .Adobe Reader required.
    to get Adobe Reader, click here
The Calendar fills quickly! Call Now to make a reservation.

Contact us via email.
T: (415) 561-6662
F: (415) 561-6660
San Francisco Maritime
National Park Association
P.O. Box 470310
San Francisco, CA 94147-0310

For more information or to make reservations, please contact Education Coordinator, Alice Watts via email, or call (415) 561-6662 x 1004


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Version 2.04, 2 June 2017