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Marine Life and Mission Control: Sea & Sky With Your Grandchild

Program No. 21489RJ
From space travel to sharks, discover all things sea and sky with your grandchild at NASA, an indoor rainforest, an aquarium and around Galveston Island!

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At a Glance

Do you and your grandchild love the ocean and marine mammals? Have you ever dreamed of flying through space? On an adventure on the Texas Gulf Coast, stir your fascination with both sea and sky. Wave to your favorite aquatic creatures at an aquarium pyramid, and trek through an indoor rainforest to learn about tropical plants and animals like the rare Saki Monkeys. Then head over to NASA to meet a real astronaut or member of Mission Control to find out more about space travel is really like. Go on a ferry ride and try to spot friendly dolphins racing with the boat, find out about sea turtles on a field trip to the beach and more!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walk and stand for several hours, mostly indoors. All venues visited are air conditioned and have benches and opportunities to sit when needed. Participants should be comfortable walking 1-3 miles over the course of the day.

What You'll Learn

  • Visit Space Center Houston and learn about NASA's future explorations to Mars.
  • Go seining in Galveston Bay for a close-up encounter with the marine life that thrives in the area.
  • Visit the giant pyramids of Moody Gardens to meet monkeys, macaws, penguins, seals and more as you stroll through a tropical rainforest and an aquarium.

General Notes

Program is for grandchildren ages 9-13.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Katy Webb
Katy Webb has been living in Texas since 1992 and claims to be a Texan. A science teacher in Elementary and Junior High School, she is always looking for new ways to inspire her students to excel in science — from Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama to pursuing technology grants to improve her classroom. She currently lives in Houston with her husband, Glenn, an engineer who writes software to support the International Space Station robotic arms.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Janie Cadena
Janie Cadena View biography
Janie Cadena, a Texas native, is a descendant of early German settlers. She was bitten by the travel bug at an early age and has lived and explored countries around the world. She has worked as a travel agent for 30 years and is a Certified Travel Counselor. Because of her love of history, Janie appreciates the opportunity she has had to see many of the world's historic places. She even lives in a historic house built by her ancestors in the 1860s and 1890s.
Profile Image of Katy Webb
Katy Webb View biography
Katy Webb has been living in Texas since 1992 and claims to be a Texan. A science teacher in Elementary and Junior High School, she is always looking for new ways to inspire her students to excel in science — from Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama to pursuing technology grants to improve her classroom. She currently lives in Houston with her husband, Glenn, an engineer who writes software to support the International Space Station robotic arms.
Profile Image of Maureen Nolan-Wilde
Maureen Nolan-Wilde View biography
Maureen Nolan-Wilde is a Galveston area resident who serves the community as a master naturalist and a volunteer with the NOAA sea turtle facility located at Fort Crockett. She is a member of the Galveston Bay Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Organization, which just won first place in the 2017 Gulf Guardian Awards for civic/non-profit organizations. The chapter took a creative approach to a “Confront Plastic Pollution” program to remove plastic trash from local highways and waterways.
Profile Image of Misty Yarotsky
Misty Yarotsky View biography
Misty Yarotsky has been a teacher for 31 years, ranging from 2nd grade to high school seniors. She holds a B.S. from the University of North Texas and a master's in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin University. She worked as the educational director for the Offshore Energy Center - Ocean Star Museum, creating and implementing educational programs. She enjoys reading murder mysteries and fantasy novels. Residing in Friendswood with her husband, Steve, and their two mini-Schnauzers, she hopes to one day retire to Galveston Island.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Galveston, Texas
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On The Beach

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m. Remember to bring your Road Scholar name tag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:30 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised. Our program is staffed with a Study Leader who will be our primary educator as well as a Group Leader who will deal with logistics. We’ll meet our Study Leader and get to know each other through some fun activities. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Moody Gardens Full Day Field Trip
Galveston, Texas
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On The Beach

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; 30 min. total riding time. Walking up to 2 miles, standing 2-3 hours at a time; sidewalks, mostly even terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Today’s learning adventure will begin with a presentation by our Study Leader about Moody Gardens. This public, non-profit educational organization in Galveston utilizes nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, research, and recreation. Next, we’ll board our coach and ride to Moody Gardens for a full-day field trip. We will encounter rare Saki Monkeys, beautiful macaws, and other animals and plants in the tropical rainforest pyramid. We will learn about mysteries of the sea in the aquarium pyramid, where we’ll see penguins, seals, sharks, eels, and a multitude of tropical fish. A staff member will lead a hands-on educational presentation to enhance our experience.

Lunch: At Moody Gardens.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our exploration of Moody Gardens with some time for independent exploration of the exhibits. Choices include taking a ride in the harbor on a paddlewheel boat and visiting the Discovery Museum that explores connections between music, science, and math. We’ll learn what makes music and have opportunities to communicate through different instruments. In addition to other indoor exhibits, there are 3D and 4D movies available. Note: The zip-line, ropes course, and water park experiences are not included in our passes but are available at extra cost. We’ll ride back to the hotel in the late afternoon with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

Galveston Bay Seining, Historic Seaport, Island State Park
Galveston, Texas
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On The Beach

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; 45 min. total riding time. Walking/hiking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing 1 to 2 hours at a time; hiking trails and beach area. For seining experience, bring close-toed shoes and clothes that can get wet/dirty plus dry clothes and shoes for changing.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll start the morning with a field trip to learn about Galveston Island and its rich marine life. We’ll board our motorcoach and ride to Galveston Island State Park for a hands-on exploration with a local naturalist and Park Interpreter. We’ll hike to the water and go seining in the Bay. We will learn what lives in the bay system and learn about the importance of the Galveston Bay and the watershed that affects over one-third of Texas. When we cast our seine nets, we’ll get our feet wet and see critters first hand. Galveston Bay is a nursery for “teenager” fish and invertebrates that grow up in a calm, low energy environment before making their way to the ocean. We’ll likely get wet during our morning exploration, so we’ll return to the hotel before lunch for some time to clean up and change.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll walk to the nearby Galveston Historic Seaport, home to the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA a floating National Historic Landmark. We’ll also explore the Ship to Shore exhibit, which is part of the Seaport. This experiential, hands-on museum will let us imagine what it was like in the 1880s, through the eyes of early immigrants who were arriving at this bustling U.S. seaport after a long sea voyage. Next we'll take a harbor tour to learn more about Galveston Bay and keep an eye out for dolphins that might be racing the boat.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

Sea Turtle Talk, Sandcastle Building, Free Time
Galveston, Texas
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On The Beach

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; beach terrain. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined in our hotel meeting room by a volunteer with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Sea Turtle Lab. We’ll learn about rescue efforts and what volunteers can do to help improve a turtle’s chance of survival. We’ll also learn about the impact of pollution and other environmental hazards to endangered species of turtles and other sea mammals. Next, we’ll walk to the beach near our hotel, for a hands-on class with a local expert who will teach us all about building sand castles. Our teacher will provide the supplies and teach us techniques to create a sandy masterpiece.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. You might like to go to the beach, a museum with a full-sized oil rig, Pleasure Pier with its assortment of amusement park rides, a railroad museum, or Schlitterbahn, a unique Texas-based water park. Galveston is also proud of the Bryan Museum, with a large collection of artifacts, art, and documents from the American Southwest.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

Space Center Houston
Galveston, Texas
Holiday Inn Resort Galveston-On The Beach

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; 2 hours total riding time. Getting on/off a tram. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day, standing 2 to 3 hours during Space Center field trip.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll head out by motorcoach for a fun-filled day learning about the conquest of space. On the way, our Study Leader will tell us about space travel to prepare for what we will see today. Arriving at Space Center Houston, we’ll have an up-close and personal visit with a space shuttle and a Saturn rocket that was used to launch the first Americans into space in the 1960s. We’ll take a tram ride through the Space Center complex to learn about the past, present, and future of space travel. We’ll also see the original mission control used by NASA to oversee and manage the first space flight and the Apollo moon landings.

Lunch: At the Space Center Houston Food Lab.

Afternoon: In the afternoon we’ll then continue our explorations of the Space Center, learning about the great moments in the development of space travel in the exhibits. We’ll be able to investigate progress from an early Goddard Rocket through lunar rovers to more recent space shuttle avionics. We can also snap photos of historic spacesuits or moon rocks. Interactive games and exhibits will provide fun for all ages, and we’ll have some time to explore on our own before returning to Galveston in the late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
Galveston, Texas

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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