Education & Awareness
Visit the Aquarium
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The Two Oceans Aquarium is open to the public again, and we are able to accommodate smaller groups of school children. We are also still offering online lessons and we can visit your school to deliver one of our lessons to your class.
Contact us for more information or bookings. Please see below our COVID-19 safety regulations for school group visits.
COVID-19 and school group visits
We want to make sure your visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium is a safe one.
- Upon arrival, all group members will be screened before entry
- Masks must be worn at all times
- Our staff will also wear masks and adhere to social distancing regulations
- Hand sanitising stations can be found throughout the Aquarium
- Your group will be split into smaller groups during your walk-through of the Aquarium
- For our educational activities in the classroom, a maximum of 25 children will be allowed to adhere to social distancing regulations
- Our classrooms will be sanitised after a group has experienced one of our activities
- No eating or drinking is allowed inside the Aquarium
When visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium at a discounted rate, school groups can either book an educational puppet show (suitable for Grades R-3), or an educational lesson in one of our Discovery Centres (Grades 1-12).
Read more about both offerings below and how to book your outing.
Other educational activities on offer:
- We have a Mobile Puppet Show team that visits pre-schools, crèche’s and primary schools to bring our puppet stories to children that cannot visit the Aquarium. For many schools with very young children, an outing is a daunting experience. For a small fee, our team can visit your school and bring the Aquarium puppet story experience to you. With a qualified ECD teacher on the team, our educational games and activities are designed to teach children basic numeracy, literacy, shapes and colours in a fun way.
- We can visit your school for Grades 1-12 with CAPS-aligned lessons to complement your curriculum work. For a small fee, one of our teachers can visit you and deliver a one-hour lesson to one, or more, grades.
- For under-resourced schools in the Greater Cape Town area, we have two outreach programmes that can visit your school free of charge. These programmes are suitable for Grades 4-7, and bring lessons of ocean awareness and sustainability to school children.
Discovery Centre lessons
Our two Discovery Centres, based at the Two Oceans Aquarium, are places of exploration and learning. The majority of school groups that visit the Aquarium also spend time in our Discovery Centre, learning about a variety of ocean-related topics. We have qualified teachers who all specialise in marine education and are able to teach children, and adults, of various ages.
In 2020, we have decided to focus on three themes for our school group lessons. Within each of these themes are lesson topics, with an indication of the grades for which we feel they are appropriate.
Our flagship ‘Underwater wonders’ lesson with anemones, sea stars and sea urchins, all animals ideal for hands-on or closer investigation, has been renamed ‘Life in the Two Oceans’. It remains our go-to lesson for first time visits and mixed touring groups. It really should be the first option for any group visiting for the first time, or doing a visit of a general, rather than a focussed Life-Science, nature. Because the animals mentioned can be used to illustrate so many themes and concepts, we have decided to incorporate an entire strand around these core animals, called “Life in rock pools”. Teachers making a selection should note the specific target grades indicated, as we may use mainly the same animals as for a previous visit, but provide information relating to or about them which links with specific CAPS topics prescribed for the grade year. There is some overlap between lessons and each presentation also has an environmental message, which may be specific to the lesson or a theme being promoted by the Aquarium Foundation at the time of the visit.
For schools that have visited us before, or who are looking for a specific theme to complement their schoolwork, there are lessons available under the other two themes of Biodiversity and Sustainability.
Life in rock pools lesson (Grades 1-7)
Life in our Two Oceans: [Foundation phase or General touring group] The level of this interactive, hands-on lesson will depend on the age and experience level of the group. It provides an introduction to the Aquarium and the two oceans around South Africa and looks at names and adaptations of Sea urchins, Sea anemones and Sea stars.
Habitats and structures: [Grade 4] The primary focus of the lesson is on animals seen frequently in rock pools and their adaptations to be able to feed, move around and protect themselves.
Support, skeletons and locomotion: [Grade 5] This lesson centres on rock pool animals and other animals in the Aquarium, investigating their skeletons or mode of support and how they perform locomotion. Animals available for hands-on investigation should include Sea anemones, Sea urchins, Sea snails and Hermit crabs. Arthropod exoskeletons and vertebrate skeleton preparations will also be on display.
Ecosystems and Food webs: [Grade 6] The lesson looks more closely at the concept of an ecosystem and its living and non-living components, mentions various coastal ecosystems and then targets a rock pool ecosystem, with a hands-on investigation of some of its plants and animals, how they feed and the resultant food webs which are established.
Basic Biodiversity: [Grade 7] The lesson introduces the two oceans around South Africa and some of the ecosystems in the Aquarium, followed by a hands on study of some rock pool animals to establish their Life processes, how tides affect them, principles of Classification and general Biodiversity.
Lessons on biodiversity (Grades 7-12)
Fish: This topic explores what a fish is and fish identification (shapes, colours, names), fish diversity, how fishes are adapted to aquatic environments (here, the level of detail will be age specific) and whether fish are a sustainable food source. Defrosted Pilchards or similar fish will be available for hands on investigation.
Sharks: This topic explores the history of sharks as members of the fish family, studies their adaptations to their marine environment (shape, fins, gills, skin, senses) and highlights that sharks are undeserving of their ruthless man-eating reputation. Live juvenile sharks should be available, on each table, for closer inspection.
Biodiversity: This topic unpacks the meaning of the word Biodiversity, highlighting classification, genetic, species and ecosystem diversity, then progresses to biogeographical regions of the South African coastline and the diverse communities of organisms unique to them. Some examples of live animals will be available at tables for relevant hands-on investigation.
Book an aquarium school group visit with a lesson
Please fill in the below form if you would like to bring your school to visit the Two Oceans Aquarium. You can include a lesson in one of our Discovery Centres in your visit. These lessons are available to children from Grade 1-12, and university students.
Puppet shows at the Aquarium
The Two Oceans Aquarium has had a dedicated children’s playcentre since it opened its doors in 1995. It has been a place of entertainment and ocean education for Aquarium members, visitors and school children alike. Many visitors know our puppets by name, and eagerly anticipate what craft they can do in the centre. Over the years, the team that works in the playcentre has developed into a trained team of puppet show performers and Early Childhood Development (ECD) educators. In addition, six themed puppet shows are on offer, each with a specific environmental message that teaches children about nature and our impact.
Our Head of ECD, Marguerite Venter, has turned these beloved puppet shows into books, which means that the story can be taken back home. Teachers Jerome, Rafee’ah and Liziwe perform our puppet shows daily to day visitors and school groups in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.
Puppet show themes and books (Grade R-3)
I Love Turtles
Hatch the Turtle still has a lot to learn about the world. On his way to the ocean, he meets Tinks the Tortoise. Together they learn about the differences between turtles and tortoises, but danger lurks as Tinks is stalked by Edgar the Eagle. Also meet Bella the wise old mommy turtle as she saves Hatch from marine debris.
Keep the Beach Clean
Sally the Seal mistakes a plastic bag for a squid and eats it. Meet Sally’s friends as they try to help her get the plastic bag out of her throat. The story not only has a happy ending, but also includes an important environmental message.
I Live Smart
Beauty and her friend Geo love spending time in nature. Join them on an adventurous visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium. Meet interesting sea creatures like clownfish, sharks, penguins and seals while learning about living smartly (saving water & electricity, biodiversity and waste).
My Wild Pets
In My Wild Pets, Beauty and Geo go on their latest adventure as they learn about the differences between pets and wild animals; about how to love, respect and care for all animals. We also learn about sea stars as we meet a sea star who journeys from the ocean to the Aquarium and in doing so becomes an ocean ambassador.
Water Cycle Adventure
Water Cycle Adventure follows Geo and his new friend Thalie, as they set off to learn about water. With the help of friends like Sunny the Sun, Fluffy the Cloud and Uncle Mthi the Big Old Tree they learn to appreciate water and make a vital discovery – that the Water Cycle and the Life Cycle are the same!
Wetlands, not Wastelands
In Wetlands, not Wastelands, children once again join characters Geo and Thalie to learn about the animals living in a South African wetland - Otis the Otter, Taahira the Toad and friends all have a message to share about life in the wetland. As always, story-loving Thalie shares a unique tale – of Plucky the Pelican who convinces Plastic Bag to stop being a bully and shows him ways to be more useful and friendly.
Book an aquarium puppet show visit
Please fill in the below form if you would like to bring your school to visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, and to include a puppet show in your visit. Our puppet shows are suited for children from 6 months to 9 years old.