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School Programs

At the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, we are dedicated to teaching students about the history and culture of the Chesapeake Bay’s communities and environment.

Whether at CBMM, in your classroom, or out on the water, our hands-on programs and curriculum units are designed to inspire, challenge, and enlighten your students about the Chesapeake’s unique people and places.

Reservations are required. At least two weeks’ advanced notice is required for all guided programs. Prices include general admission to the Museum. Programs and tours are available throughout the year and welcome all public, private, and home-schooled students, as well as youth organizations. For information, contact Volunteer & Education Coordinator Allison Speight at 410-745-4941 or

Hear CBMM Director of Education Jill Ferris speak about our School Programs in this 12/12/17 WCEI radio interview. 

CBMM-Kids-Club-WE-Sail-Print-22Programs and Tours

Our programs and tours are designed to bring the history, environment, and culture of the Chesapeake alive through themed explorations of our 18-acre campus and exhibitions. All programs connect to the Maryland State Curriculum, with particular emphasis on science, social studies, and environmental literacy. Through hands-on activities and discussion in small groups, students get an up close and personal view of the Bay’s people, places, and creatures. 

Crab CakesChesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes Immersive Tour

Grades: K-5 |  Duration: 1.5 hours |  60 students/chaperones max

In this NEW immersive tour, students learn about Chesapeake geography, biology, and economics by following the blue crab on its journey from the brackish Bay to our picnic tables. The program focuses on the people who earn their livelihood from the crabbing industry. Students have a chance to walk in their shoes by working a trotline activity, picking stuffed crabs at a packing house, ordering from a restaurant on a migrant worker’s wages, and culling their dredge catch.


See a short film used in our Crab Cakes program by Chesapeake photographer Jay Fleming and W Films, about the Chesapeake Crab Industry here:


Ecology CruisesEcology Cruise Immersive Program

Grades: 2-10 | Duration: 1.5 hours | 32 students/chaperones max
*Dependent upon seasonal availability

In this ecology-based program, students learn about the animals, plants, and environment of the Chesapeake through hands-on activities aboard the 1920 buyboat Winnie Estelle. Students explore the Bay watershed from large to small, starting with maps of the Chesapeake’s waterways and populations, moving to water quality testing, and finishing by examining the many organisms that call an oyster reef home.


Children tong for oysters off of Waterman's Wharf at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. Bay Bounty Guided Tour

Grades: K-12 |  Duration: 1.5 hours  |  60 students/chaperones max

In this guided science–and history–based program, students learn what it means to “follow the water” in every season on the Chesapeake through the eyes of a waterman. Students will tong for oysters, pull crab pots, climb into an oysterman’s bunk on a skipjack, and hear stories of the “big guns” commercial hunters used at the turn of the 19th century.


Bay Discovery Tour at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MarylandTides of Technology Immersive Tour Tour

Grades: 2-12 |  Duration: 1.5 hours  |  60 students/chaperones max

In this STEM-focused program, students explore how changing technology has impacted people in the Chesapeake for generations. Students will use tools, touch baskets, and hands-on demonstrations to consider the scientific principles behind some great innovations in Chesapeake boat building, navigation, and engineering. Tour stops include CBMM’s working Shipyard and 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse.


Oyster legacy tour at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MarylandOystering Legacy Immersive Tour

Grades: 3-8 | Duration: 1.5 hours | 60 students/chaperones max

In this hands-on program, students explore the history of the greatest oyster factory on Earth, the Chesapeake Bay, and how the oyster shaped the culture, industry, and environment of the Bay and its people. Students will learn about a time in which oysters lay thick as stones, through maps, activities, and giant oyster shells, hear the tales of the Oyster Wars and an oyster gold rush in the cabin of a skipjack, and investigate close-up an oyster nurseries’ crabs, fish, and baby mollusks.


Self-Guided Tours

Grades: K-12 | Duration: 1.5 hours | 100 students/chaperones max

In addition to our guided tours, we offer the option of self-guided tours by reservation. Maps and supplemental activities to complement our self-guided tours are available by request. CBMM school tours run continuously throughout the year, and we welcome all students, whether from public, private, or home schools.


CBMM-Kids-Club-WE-Sail-Print-8Custom Tours

Interested in an educational program at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum but can’t find what you’re looking for? Customized programming tailored to your group’s age, interests, and abilities is available. One month’s advance notice is required for custom programming; contact Volunteer & Education Coordinator, Allison Speight, at 410-745-4941 or

DSC_0831Pricing and Bus Scholarship

We welcome all public, private, and homeschooled students, as well as youth organizations to participate in our school programs. Prices include general admission to the Museum. Through generous support, we offer a bus scholarship program for K-12 school groups. Some program funding is also available for Talbot and Dorchester County students. Programs and tours may be booked concurrently to accommodate larger groups, or throughout the day to best fit your group’s schedule.


Maryland Public School Students $5 per student
One chaperone for every ten students admitted free.
Additional chaperones $5.
Private School and
Out-of-State Students
$8 per student
One chaperone for every ten students admitted free.
Additional chaperones $8.
Ecology Cruise Cost per class: $300

Chaperone Policy

For groups of 15 or fewer students, only one chaperone is required. All other groups are required to have at least one adult chaperone for every 10 students. Chaperones are expected to stay with and supervise their student group at all times.

Program Funding
We seek to provide affordable field trip experiences for students and teachers interested in learning about the Chesapeake Bay. Thanks to funding from the Maryland State Department of Education’s State Aided Institutions program, we are able to offer reduced program prices for Maryland public school students. Through generous support, we are able to provide some programming to Talbot and Dorchester County students free of charge. To inquire about these funding opportunities, please contact Allison Speight at 410-745-4941 or

Bus Scholarship
To offset the costs of transportation to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, all educators are encouraged to apply to our bus scholarship program. The bus scholarship will reimburse the school up to $250 per bus for transportation to and from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Schools/organizations are responsible for any and all costs above the $250 limit.This bus scholarship program is open to public, private, and charter schools that teach students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12; university and colleges are not eligible. Classes are eligible for reimbursement once per school year. Applications for the school year are accepted on a rolling deadline. Funding may be prioritized to any of the following:

  • schools that have not previously attended CBMM field trips
  • field trips scheduled between October and April
  • field trips serving more than 30 students
  • Title I schools and other underserved audiences.

To apply, complete the Reservation Inquiry form below at least one month before your requested field trip. Awards will be made on a rolling basis. If you have questions about bus scholarships, please contact the School and Family Programs Manager, Jill Ferris, at


Deposit and Cancellation Policy
A deposit is required for all guided tours and programs (refundable with two weeks’ advanced notice of cancellation). If the deposit is not received by the due date, guides will be made available to other groups. Docents and boat crew are not guaranteed if your group is delayed more than one-half hour. Please notify our front desk if your group is delayed: 410-745-2916.

Museum Store Policy for School Groups
Please allow no more than ten students, with at least one chaperone, into the museum store at a time.

editedDSC_0882Classroom Resources

Our classroom resources are designed to introduce Chesapeake Bay-related topics to your students. Use our pre-visit materials, curriculum units, and related videos to prepare your class for their upcoming adventure to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, or to learn about the Chesapeake Bay’s unique ecosystem. If you are scheduling a self-guided experience at CBMM, consider using one of our supplemental activities to add a bit of structure for your students.

Curriculum Units & Lesson Plans

NEW CBMM Conflict and Compromise in History Topic List: National History Day teachers, consider using our list of suggested topics to help inspire your students to choose a Chesapeake-related research topic.

Gilbert Byron, Chesapeake’s Thoreau 5E Model Lesson: Students analyze the inspiration of the Chesapeake Bay in Gilbert Byron’s poetry, and write their own poetry in a similar style. This lesson is adaptable for 3rd through 12th grade students.

Chesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes 5E Model Lesson: a K-5th grade curriculum focusing on the social, scientific, economic, and historical impacts of the crabbing industry in the Chesapeake Bay.

Oystering on the Chesapeake, Units 1-5 and Oystering on the Chesapeake, Units 6-10: curriculum units designed to introduce 4th through 6th graders to the economic, environmental, and cultural significance of the oystering industry in the Chesapeake.

Watermen and the Chesapeake: this unit, designed for 5th through 8th graders, tackles the issues of lower catches, water quality, and uncertain futures that many watermen today face

Exploring the Biology and Ecology of the Eastern Oyster: a high school curriculum focusing on the ecology, biology, and anatomy of the Eastern Oyster.

Geography of the Chesapeake and the War of 1812: An Historical Investigation: a 4th grade historical investigation that asks students to use age-appropriate primary sources to examine why the Chesapeake Bay area was a tempting target for the British during the War of 1812.

Slavery and the War of 1812: An Historical Investigation: an 8th grade historical investigation in which students use primary sources to assess how the War of 1812 impacted slavery along the Chesapeake Bay.

Pre-Visit Materials

Chesapeake Bay Food Pyramid: Who Eats Who? An activity designed for 4-8th graders to introduce the idea of food pyramids; this is a great activity to prepare for our Bay Bounty tour, Oystering Legacy tour, or Ecology Cruise program.

Oyster Tins & Advertising: What ‘cha Selling? Designed for 3-8th graders, this activity discusses advertising techniques with regards to canned oysters – great in preparation for our Bay Bounty or Oystering Legacy tours.

Life in the Hooper Strait Lighthouse: Are You a Keeper? A great activity for 2-8th graders which explores how life would have been for lighthouse keepers in the Chesapeake Bay; this is great to prepare for our Bay Discovery tour.

Types of Lighthouses: You Be the Engineer! Designed for 4-8th graders, this activity asks the students to explore different types of Chesapeake lighthouses and decide which type should be built in various locations around the Bay- a great activity to use in preparation for our Bay Discovery tour.

Supplemental Activities for Your CBMM Visit

NEW Campus Challenge
Preschool Scavenger Hunt

Hooper Strait Lighthouse Scavenger Hunt
Oyster Cans Scavenger Hunt

Video Resources

Selected Poems by Gilbert Byron: Director of Education Kate Livie reads four Chesapeake Bay poems: “River Schooling,” “Chesapeake Calendar,” “Crab Talk,” and “These Chesapeake Men.” Use this video to connect English/Language Arts to your Chesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes, Bay Bounty, or Oystering Legacy tour. This video supports the Gilbert Byron, Chesapeake’s Thoreau 5E Model Lesson.

Dissecting the Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica: Take a closer look at the biology of the Eastern Oyster through dissection with Director of Education Kate Livie. This video is part of the Exploring the Biology and Ecology of the Eastern Oyster high school curriculum, but also connects with the Ecology Cruise or Oystering Legacy tour.

The Crab Industry in Talbot County: From the Chesapeake Bay to your table, this video describes the process of steaming and picking crabs. Created to support the Chesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes Immersive tour, the video is part of the Chesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes elementary school curriculum.

Secret Museum: Inside the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum: Join Chief Curator Pete Lesher for a behind-the-scenes look at some of the unique artifacts in CBMM’s collections. Use this as an introduction to your Bay Bounty, Bay Discovery, or self-guided tour.

A Rising Tide in the Heart of the Chesapeake: With photos by David Harp and text by Tom Horton, this video examines how changes in the Chesapeake Bay have impacted watermen and crab pickers, and families living along the Chesapeake Bay. Connect this video to your Chesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes, Bay Bounty, or Bay Discovery tour.

Cultures of Crabbing: Three Chesapeake Bay tradition bearers talk about their roles in the crabbing industry, picking and catching crabs. Relating personal experiences, this video connects with the Chesapeake’s Best Crab Cakes and Bay Bounty tours.

Reservation Inquiry

Groups may schedule programs and tours any time our campus is open, based on educator availability. Submit your reservation request through this form. Based on availability, we will confirm your reservation.