Griffith Observatory School Program

June 6, 2014 Update

Griffith Observatory's 2013-14 school program is now complete. Thanks again to Friends Of The Observatory which funds the program and makes it possible for it to be free. Please check this page in August 2014 for announcements regarding reservations for the 2014-15 school program. Have a great summer!

Teacher Resources

Information Regarding 2013-14 School Program

Soon after opening in 1935, Griffith Observatory initiated one of the first school visit programs in the region. Generations of Los Angeles-area students made the pilgrimage in buses up Mount Hollywood for an experience under the stars. With the reopening of the renovated Observatory in late 2006, we welcomed back school groups for a unique experience in science education.

Nearly 160,000 fifth-grade students and over 5,000 teachers from over 2,200 schools around the region have participated in the Observatory’s School Program since reopening. Now, we are pleased to announce the Observatory School Program for the 2013-14 school year.

For the sixth year, Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) is generously sponsoring the Observatory's school program. If you'd like to help FOTO in its mission of supporting the Observatory and its visitors, please click here.

WHO: Fifth-grade students ONLY. As with the programs from 2007-13, this year’s School Program is open exclusively to fifth-grade students. The content and activities are aligned with the California State Board of Education Content Standards for fifth grade. Only fifth-grade classes will be considered for school program visits. Thanks to FOTO, there is again no charge for students to attend a program.

WHAT: A two-and-a-half hour program with exhibit, building, and theater experiences. The program uses the Observatory’s telescope, exhibit, and building content as well as programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater. Museum Guides and Observatory Lecturers will guide students in standards-based learning experiences using our unique facilities. Each component of the program is designed to complement the others and to support the fifth-grade education standards. Click here for a two-page brochure which describes the program in more detail.

WHEN: Most Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The school program runs from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon. The first program will be Wednesday, October 2, 2013, and the final program of the year will be Thursday, June 5, 2014. There will be no programs during the weeks of winter break (December 23 - January 10).

Buses must arrive by 9:00 a.m. so the program can begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. The program serves over 300 fifth-grade students per day.

WHERE: Griffith Observatory. The programs are held at historic Griffith Observatory (2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA, 90027). Access to the Observatory is available from Vermont Avenue. Friendly Observatory staff will greet buses, divide students into groups, and guide students through the program. Teachers, chaperones, and students must arrive by bus. It is your responsibility to arrange for bus transportation for your visit. The bus will drop you off and pick you up at the horseshoe driveway. Classes are expected to attend the ENTIRE two-and-a-half hour program.

HOW: By advance phone reservations ONLY, starting Wednesday, September 4, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. Availability is VERY limited, and the program is always oversubscribed. We process reservations via the school program reservation hotline on a first-come, first-served basis. Teachers wishing to participate in the school program MUST make an advance reservation by phone, receive confirmation from the Observatory by mail, and mail back a signed certification form. We regret we cannot accept reservations by fax, email, or other means. It is not possible for the hotline to take recorded messages.


Here are the steps of the reservation process (each is described in more detail below):

    1. Gather the required information, including your preferred visit dates.
    2. Call the School Reservation Hotline. (see below)
    3. Arrange a reserved date (subject to availability).
    4. Receive a confirmation package from the Observatory (U.S. Mail).
    5. Secure bus transportation for your visit.
    6. Each teacher must complete, sign, and return a certification form for his/her class.
    7. Present the confirmation letter when you arrive for your visit.
    8. Contact us immediately if you are unable to come on your reserved date.

1. Gather required information, including preferred visit dates.

When you are connected, our reservation agent will ask for the following information, which you should collect before calling:

a. Proposed visit dates (Wednesday - Friday)
b. School Name
c. School Address
d. School District
e. Number of Students (per class)
f. Teacher Name
g. Teacher Phone Number(s)

You will be asked first for your proposed visit dates. Please have multiple options available and have a calendar handy to explore alternatives if your proposed visit dates are already full. The program fills VERY quickly, so flexibility helps.

2. Call the School Reservation Hotline. 213-473-0891

Beginning Monday, February 3, 2014, the hotline will be open two days a week, on Mondays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except Monday holidays, like Presidents Day and Memorial Day). The hotline is closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Reservations may ONLY be made via the hotline at times when it is open. The hotline does not take messages, and no advance reservations or waiting lists are possible.

3. Arrange a reserved date (subject to availability).

The agent will ask what day you would like to visit. Please have at least three options available (and a calendar at hand in case more options are needed). Our ability to schedule your class is subject to availability, and we have a finite capacity which fills quickly. Once you have reserved a date with our coordinator, immediately begin your efforts to secure a school bus.

4. Receive a confirmation package from the Observatory (via U.S. Mail).

Once the reservation agent has confirmed a date for your class, the Observatory will mail you a confirmation package which you should receive within ten (10) business days. The confirmation package includes your confirmation letter (with details regarding your reservation), information about the program and our regulations, and the certification form.

When you receive the confirmation package, the teacher should review it carefully and notify us immediately if any information needs to be corrected or if you have any questions.

5. Secure bus transportation for your visit.

It is your responsibility to arrange for bus transportation for your visit. Everyone participating in the school visit program must arrive by bus (including all chaperones). No other vehicles are permitted.

6. EACH teacher must complete, sign, and return (by U.S. Mail) the certification form for his/her class.

As soon as you have secured your bus, each teacher MUST complete, sign, and return the certification form using the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope.

The signed certification form confirms your formal agreement to the following:

All participating students are in the fifth grade.
Teachers/chaperones will actively supervise their students.
All teachers, chaperones, and students will abide by the school visit program policies and procedures and any instructions from Observatory staff.
There is at least one adult chaperone for every ten students.
The class has confirmed bus transportation for the visit.
Contact information for the day of your visit.

If your class includes students with special needs, you must specify the number of students and what, if any, accommodation they will require.

Failure to abide by program requirements and staff direction will result in the bus being turned away upon arrival or the class being removed from the program.

7. Present the confirmation letter when you arrive for your visit.

You may only participate in the School Field Trip Program on the day of your confirmed reservation. Classes without a confirmed reservation will not be admitted.

If you must cancel your visit for some reason, please let us know as soon as possible, as we may be able to make the space to another school. Please call the number indicated on your confirmation letter.


Please be aware of the following requirements in planning:

Proper Behavior. All programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium are conducted by a live presenter in near-total darkness. The environment of the planetarium theater is specifically crafted to enable maximum visitor enjoyment of the show. As such, all visitors in the planetarium should refrain from any activities that would be disruptive to those around them (or to the presenter). Such activities include talking, yelling, making distracting noises, standing up, or using cell phones or other devices. We reserve the right to remove disruptive patrons from the theater at any time.

No Children May Attend Who Are Not Fifth-Grade Students. We regret we cannot permit siblings of students or other children of teachers or chaperones to attend the programs. Only students in the fifth-grade class may attend.

• One Adult Chaperone Required for Each Ten Children.
To ensure a safe visit, the Observatory requires each visiting class have at least one responsible adult Teacher/Chaperone for every ten students. The teacher must certify this in advance. The Observatory will not schedule visits for classes without the required number of adults.

• Limit on Number of Adult Chaperones.
Please keep in mind that we have limited capacity in our theaters. Please do not bring excess chaperones.

Teachers/Chaperones Must Supervise Their Students. Teachers/Chaperones will participate actively in the program AND in the supervision of the students. The requirements for a Teacher/Chaperone during the visit are described here; please make sure all of your adult participants are aware of their responsibilities. We will remove students and/or classes who are disrupting the program.

Being Ready for the Program. Your students must be ready to line up for the program by 9:20 a.m. so we can begin promptly at 9:30 a.m. This means they must use the exterior restrooms and/or eat any snacks well before that time. There is no break provided during the two-and-a-half hour school visit program.

Special Education and Special Needs Students Welcome. The Observatory is able to accommodate both special education and special needs students (including those in wheelchairs, with visual/hearing impairments, or emotional issues). However, we need to have advance notice to understand how best to meet the needs of the students. Please indicate the number of such students and what, if any, accommodations are required when you return your certification form.

Transportation Required. Students, teachers, and chaperones must ALL arrive via a school bus. Schools must arrange and fund their own bus. As noted above, you must certify that you have secured a bus prior to your visit. Your bus must arrive at the Observatory no later than 9:00 a.m. to enable the program to begin on time. Buses will drop you off and pick you up at the Observatory’s horseshoe driveway; during the program, buses will need to park elsewhere in Griffith Park.

No Food or Drink Permitted in Building or During the Program. To maintain the historic building and new exhibits, food, drinks, candy, and gum are not permitted at any time in the building or during the school visit program. Teachers and Chaperones must enforce this policy.


Please consider the following when requesting a reservation:

Public Operations. Please be aware that the Observatory opens to the public on weekdays beginning at 12:00 noon.

Activities After the Program. When the program is completed at 12:00 noon, you may be interested in one or more of the following options as an additional aspect of your visit.

SHOPPING. Visit the Stellar Emporium, the Observatory’s gift shop and bookstore, where students may shop or pre-purchase gift bags. If you are interested in pre-purchasing, please download, fill out, and fax back the form directly to the number specified on the form. Or you can fill out the contact information on the certification form and a store representative will contact you.
Store Grab Bag Order Form [PDF]

Eat at the Café at the End of the Universe, the Observatory’s café operated by Wolfgang Puck, where students may purchase food in line or pre-purchase bag lunches. If you are interested in pre-purchasing lunch, please download, fill out, and fax back the form directly to the number specified on the form. Or you can fill out the contact information on the certification form and a café representative will contact you. Cafe School Group PreOrder Form [PDF]

Bring Your Own Lunch. Students may bring their own bag lunches to the Observatory. However, no food may be stored inside the building or on the grounds during the visit. Students are welcome to eat on the lawn or sidewalks, but may not use the chairs and tables on the café terrace unless they have purchased food from the café.


With a limited capacity and a program focused exclusively on fifth-grade students, we recognize that many classes who wish to visit the Observatory will not be able to participate in the formal fifth grade school program. Such classes are welcome to visit the Observatory during regular public hours of operation:

Tuesday-Friday   12:00 noon -   10:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday   10:00 a.m. -   10:00 p.m.
Mondays   Closed

We regret we cannot guarantee tickets for the programs in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Such tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis only on the day of your visit.