Field Trip FAQ

What programs do you offer for students?

Discovery Hall Programs (DHP) academic year field trips are offered for K through 12th grade from September through mid-May. Find our field trip class options here.  

Who teaches the classes?

Discovery Hall Programs' marine educators teach the classes.  Their backgrounds include years of classroom experience, teacher certifications, advanced degrees in education or marine science, and informal education backgrounds. Read more about our educators here. 

How many students can I bring?

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Discovery Hall Programs' class sizes are limited to 35 students. Larger groups will be split into multiple classes and charged per class. We can accommodate a maximum of 140 students per day from all school groups. We ask that students be assigned to “Dauphin Island Sea Lab” class groups, which may differ from their classrooms at school, prior to arrival at the lab in order to save time and alleviate the confusion of organizing students when your class should be starting. Pricing is per group of up to 35 students.

**DISL's educational facilities and programs are for the express use of your classroom students. Children not in your class are not permitted to attend.** 

How many parents/chaperones can attend?

We recommend 1 chaperone for every 5 elementary students, 1 chaperone for every 7 middle school students, and 1 chaperone for every 10 high school-aged students. Due to limited space, adults exceeding this ratio may not be able to attend all activities and there may not be dorm space available. Allowances are made for students that require additional support or supervision.

Student/Chaperone Ratio:

  • K5 -5th grade / 5 students: 1 adult
  • 6th -8th grade / 7 students: 1 adult
  • 9th -12th grade / 10 students: 1 adult

How many participants can I bring on a boat trip?

The maximum capacity for the vessel trip is 37. With a full class group of 35 students, this means only two teachers or chaperones can also attend. These restrictions are set by the Coast Guard and cannot be waived. If you have an unusually large number of parents who wish to participate in the vessel trip, we suggest scheduling two trips to accommodate all members of your group. Middle and high school students (grades 7-12) can take the 4-hour trip or split larger groups into two 2-hour trips, while 5th and 6th-grade students can take the 2-hour trip.

How do I schedule a field trip? 

All field trips must be scheduled through the Scheduling Coordinator Jennifer Latour. The coordinator can be reached by phone at 251-861-2141 ext. 7511 or email at We recommend reserving your dates one year in advance, but you may need to schedule up to two years in advance for peak dates. Vacancies during the currently-occurring school year are available but may be limited.  The following information will help in finding availability for your group:

  • Number of students
  • Grade level(s) of students
  • Date and length of preferred visit (day trip or overnight)
  • Arrival and departure times
  • Programs of interest

Field Trip Options

**DISL's educational facilities and programs are for the express use of your classroom students. Children not in your class are not permitted to attend.**

Checklists, Forms, and Releases

Once a field trip has been scheduled, either the Day Field Trip Reservation Form or the Overnight Field Trip Reservation Form needs to be completed and submitted to the scheduler. 

The Medical and Allergy form will need to be submitted at least 3 weeks before the field trip's start date and must include updated attendance numbers.

Forms that need to be turned in upon arrival include the Group Media Release and notarized Vessel Release forms for each individual if a vessel or kayak trip is scheduled.

Dorm Layouts and Packing Lists are available to help assign dorm rooms and pack. 

The Chaperone Guide will help you and your chaperones prepare for your field trip.

What is the timeline for reserving and planning a field trip? 

Peak dates during the school year may require a one to the two-year reservation before your desired date. However, there are vacancies throughout the academic year. Call to book your trip, reserve dorm, and cafeteria space if needed, and pay a trip deposit. Day of arrival: check-in with Scheduling Coordinator. Remember to allow adequate time to move into dorms or sort students into Dauphin Island Sea Lab class groups before your first scheduled activity. Overnight groups will follow the schedule sent prior to arrival on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab campus.

What should students wear?

Students participating in field activities should wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather (rain jackets may be needed) and activity. Shoes should tie or strap on securely; sneakers that can get wet and muddy are best. Sandal-type shoes (Crocs©, Keens©, Tevas©, etc) are not permitted for field activities. Many students choose to bring rain boots for the salt marsh activity. This is strongly discouraged, as students will frequently be in water up to or past their knees, causing the boots to fill with water, get stuck, and easily slip off feet.

Is there housing on campus for my overnight field trip?

Yes! The Dauphin Island Sea Lab has two dormitories available for visiting groups to reserve. Each dorm can accommodate up to 86 people (40 on the first floor, 46 on the second) and each room sleeps two people. Two communal restrooms are located at either end of each floor. There is also a lounge/common room available for groups staying on the first floor of each dorm. Groups assigned to the second floors should not be permitted to roam the downstairs hallway or use the common room. You will need to bring your own linens/pillows/blankets for our twin size beds.  We would be happy to arrange the use of a classroom in the evenings if you would like somewhere for your group to gather.

Groups with 35 students or less will be assigned to one dorm floor. Groups with 36-70 students will have one entire dorm to themselves. Groups with more than 70 students will spill over to the second dorm, and depending on total numbers, may or may not be sharing the second dorm with another group. Groups will never be asked to share a floor with another school group.

Is there a cafeteria on campus?

Yes! The Dauphin Island Sea Lab has a full-service cafeteria for overnight groups or day groups wishing to include lunch on their trip. May's Cafe is a full-service cafeteria which offers three hot meals per day at specific times. Special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice. A minimum of 20 people is required to open the cafeteria for meals. If your group is the only one on campus, has less than 20 participants, and wishes to eat in the cafeteria, you will be charged for 20 people per meal.

School Group Meal Rates:

  • Breakfast (served 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.) $6.50
  • Lunch (served 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) $8.50
  • Dinner (served 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) $11.50

Where are you located?

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is located on Dauphin Island. Find directions and a campus map here.

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