Education & School Toolkit

Education & School Toolkit

In-Person Programs

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies strives to provide students of all ages and adults with an interactive, educational experience while building an understanding of the aquatic world and the need to conserve and protect it. We invest immersive detail into our programs and our goal is to develop each person’s passion for marine stewardship.

We offer a varied selection of grade level based classroom programs designed to meet the Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards. We strive to ensure that the experiences provided will be an extension of what is learned in the classroom and to provide students with a deeper understanding of why it is important to protect and conserve our ocean’s environment.


Whether you have been planning field trips for years or this is your time, our Education Department is here to help with anything you may need. From the first stages of planning to arrival, we strive to make this a smooth experience for teachers, students and parents.

Requesting Your Date: The Aquarium takes school groups any day of the year. If you are choosing to book a classroom program we advise providing several available times on your reservation form as classroom times are on a first come first served basis.

Choosing Your Experience: Groups can choose to do a self-guided tour only or a self-guided tour and a classroom program. One classroom program comes free with every paid reservation and last approximately 30-45 minutes. Classroom programs are offered every hour on the half beginning at 10:30 am. A self-guided tour will give you access to the Aquarium for the day, including feedings and dive shows.

Classroom programs are offered Monday-Friday, based on availability.

Classroom Programs: Classroom programs are linked to the Next Generation Science and Common Core standards. Most programs include one or more hands on activities and all programs include a conservation message. There is a maximum of 40 students per classroom program. See the list of classroom program descriptions below!

Arrival Time: The Aquarium opens at 9:00 am every day. Due to the volume of school groups that attend the facility please provide a realistic arrival time when filling out your reservation form as this time frame will determine parking availability.


Students (K–12): $10.00 +tax per student | Adult Chaperones (18+): $15.00 +tax per adult
Title 1 Students: $6.00 +tax per student | Title 1 Adult (18+): $6.00 +tax per adult
*If teachers exceed number of complimentary admissions based on student grade level, the teacher rate will be the same as the student rate.

Non-School Educational Groups (Ages 6–11): $12 +tax per person
Non-School Educational Groups (Ages 2–5): $6 +tax per person

Comp Chaperone Policy (Grades PreK–2): One FREE Chaperone for every 5 paid students
Comp Chaperone Policy (Grades 3–12): One FREE Chaperone for every 10 paid students

Tax: Tennessee Tax is 11.75%, unless Tennessee State or Federal 501 (c) 3 Tax Exempt Form is provided prior to arrival and payment is made by organization check/credit card.

*School Rates and Group Rates cannot be combined for the same field trip, regardless of student age.


Programs & Field Trips
*This is only an inquiry form, an email with the reservation form will follow shortly.


Where do we park?

There are 6 bus parking spots located directly behind the Aquarium. These spots are first come first served. If none of these spots are available your bus will unload and then be directed to an alternate parking area. Parents are not permitted to park in bus parking at any time. There is a city owned parking garage located directly behind bus parking that parents should park in.

Where do we go to check in?

Upon arrival, the lead field trip coordinator should check the group in at the Aquarium Guest Services window. We advise allowing 10-15 minutes for check in.

Where do we go for our classroom program?

If you have booked a classroom program you should meet the educator outside of the Discovery Center classrooms at the time listed on your confirmation. The Discovery Center is located in the middle lower level of the Aquarium.

How many students can fit in a classroom program?

We can fit a maximum of 40 students per classroom program depending on the grade level. Parents may not be permitted in the classroom program depending on the class size.

Can we bring bagged lunches?

The Aquarium does not allow outside food into the Aquarium. If you are bringing bagged lunches, you are welcome to eat them outside on the plaza or on the bus. We kindly ask that you clean up after yourself when finished.

When do you need the final numbers?

Final numbers are due 72 hours prior to your arrival date.

What if we are tax exempt?

We only accept a Tennessee State Tax form or a Federal 501(c)3 form. We MUST receive the tax form prior to your arrival; taxes will not be removed or refunded if we do not have it in hand before you check in.

Do you have Discounts for Education Personnel?

Teachers received a discounted rate of $12.00 +tax with their photo ID and current pay stub. The educator’s immediate family (spouse and dependent children living in the same household) will receive our education rate of $19.99 +tax for guests 6 years and above and a $6.00 +tax rate for 2-5 year olds.