It's Thursday 8:11 AMSorry, we're closed. See our hours and visit us when we're open again!

Shipwrights by Improbable Escapes

Shipwrights by Improbable Escapes​An immersive ‘escape room’ experience with nautical-themed puzzles and challenges. Suitable for groups of 2-6 people.

Special Events

There’s always something new on the horizon. Discover our upcoming events, spread the word, and mark your calendar.

Children &
Youth (Age 5-13)

Programs to ignite curiosity and provide opportunity for exploration! Delivered virtually or in-person, these group programs can be adapted for ages 5-13.


The Nautical Nights Speaker Series, in partnership with Kingston Yacht Club (KYC), has become an annual tradition at the Great Lakes Museum.


Life-long learning is a journey of continuous growth and development, enriching our lives with new knowledge and perspectives. Immerse yourself in the history of the Great Lakes!

About the

Archives and artefacts. A library collection covering all aspects of Canadian shipping and marine heritage. Photographs, shipping company collections and shipbuilding and design collections.

Ship Lists

A selection of unique registers of ships and individuals that were compiled to facilitate the research process.

Ways of Giving

Donate your time. Donate your money. Become a member. Leave a gift in your will. There are many ways to support the museum and we appreciate your interest in supporting the Great Lakes Museum!

The Story of the Great Lakes Museum

‘Know the Ropes’ – Museum News & Stories

Explore the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes, read the stories of our artefacts, find out interesting information to share at your next party! Know the Ropes shares a mix of museum news and interesting stories.

School Programs

(Grades 2-8)


Curriculum-based Programming for Grades 2-8

We offer curriculum-based programs for grades 2-8 science and technology, and social studies subject areas that include a small lesson, demonstration, and engaging activity. Each program is designed to be 60-90 minutes long and is free of charge.

Whether you want to plan a field trip for your class or invite a guest speaker, we can accommodate group visits to the Museum or will quite happily bring the museum to you! All materials are provided. Scroll down for a complete list of our packaged program, then contact us to connect your class!


Science and Technology

Science & Technology

These programs are designed to meet expectations in the grades 2, 4-8 Science and Technology curricula.

Social Studies

Social Studies

These programs are designed to meet expectations in the grades 3-6 Social Studies curricula, and the grades 7-8 Geography and History curricula.

Science & Technology

What's invading our food chain?

What’s Invading Our Food Chain?

Grades: 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

In this program students learn about the unique aquatic ecosystems of the Great Lakes and how factors like invasive species and commercial fisheries have impacted these systems. Students will get to create their own marine food web as well as investigate invasive species specimens safely.

Key Words: habitat, population, community, adaptation, food chain, producers, consumers, amount of light, availability of food, species, ecosystem, interrelationships, vertebrate, invertebrate, stability, invasive species

Whatever floats your boat

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Grades: 5 and 7

Duration: 60 minutes

Students will explore the concepts of buoyancy and the forces that act on watercraft. Students also learn about the technological design of ships and how their structures are built to withstand external forces. Students will put their new knowledge to the test with the chance to build their own craft boats! Research and problem-solving skills will be encouraged and practiced.

Key Words: materials, structure, purpose, buoyancy, liquid, solid, push, pull, load, structure, strength, stability

Guardians of the Great Lakes

Guardians of the Great Lakes

Grades: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

Students’ scientific exploration skills will be enhanced through this program where we investigate water quality. The Museum staff will facilitate discussions around the origins of our drinking water and the impacts of pollution in the Great Lakes. Students will practice the scientific method to design and build their own water filtration systems.

Key Words: pollution, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, sewage, water treatment, natural habitats, medicine, food chain, producer, consumer, products, physical/chemical change, biodiversity, organism

Lighting the Way!

Grades: 4 to 8

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

This program allows students to discover the history and optical technology behind lighthouses. Students participate in hands-on experiments to learn about how light behaves, how to manipulate it, and how optics can be used in real life scenarios!

Key Words: light, natural light, artificial light, beam of light, straight path, absorb, reflect, refract, heat, navigation.

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

Grades: 4 to 8

Duration: 60 minutes

This program explores the intersections of habitat loss and fragmentation with cultural loss. Through active participation students will realize the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples and ecosystems.

Key Words: habitat, ecosystems, responsibility, reciprocity, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, producers, consumers, abiotic, biotic, animacy, worldviews, residential schools, reserve system, culture

Shoreline erosion

Getting to the Root of Erosion

Grades: 3, 7 to 9

Duration: 60 minutes

This programs introduces students to the concept of erosion and its impact on aquatic ecosystems. Through observations and demonstrations students will learn that plants have two kinds of root systems and that plants help reduce erosion.

Key Words: roots, Fibrous root system, tap root system, erosion, sediment, soil, topsoil, water quality, visibility, soil quality, runoff.

Oil Spills and Water Pollution

Oil Spills and Water Pollution

Grades: 2, 4 to 9

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

This program allows students to consider the effects of oil spills and pollution in a body of water close to home. Through hands-on activities, students engage directly with the content and work through problem solving when presented with their own (contained) oil spill.

Key Words: Pollution, oil, petroleum, fossil fuels, non-renewable energy, renewable energy, pipeline, spill, ecosystem, diversity, habitat, species, oxygen, pollution, Great Lakes, climate change

Wetlands - the heart and lungs of the Great Lakes

Wetlands - the heart and lungs of the Great Lakes

Grades: 2-4 and 6-9

Duration: 60 minutes

This program invites student to explore the heart and lungs fo the Great Lakes, their importance and the impact of human activity. Through active participation students will come away with a better understanding of the importance of wetlands and how they can take action within their community.

Key Words: Wetlands, ecosystem, diversity, habitat, soil, hydric soil, species, oxygen, anaerobic, carbon, sediments, pollution, Great Lakes basin, climate change

Social Studies

Its Glacial Out There

It’s Glacial Out There!

Grades: 3 to 7

Duration: 60 minutes

This program is about the past and present impacts of glaciation on the landscape as well as how glaciers are formed, how they move, and different types of glaciers. In this activity, students will gain a new understanding of glacial advance and retreat through the making of their own glacial slime!

Key Words: glacier, glaciation, ice sheet, ablation zone, accumulation zone, calving, moraine, alpine glaciers, continental glaciers, ancient lake

War of 1812

Ready, Aye, Ready!

Grade: 7

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

Students will gain an appreciation for Kingston’s contribution and role in the War of 1812. As a defining moment in our history, students will develop understanding of the impact of the war on the Great Lakes, specifically the Battle of Lake Erie. Through a live action version of Battleships, and a Choose Your Own Adventure activity as crew members on a ship, students will get a glimpse into what it was like for the American, British and Indigenous soldiers and civilians during this time.

Key Words: battle, navy, casualties, coordinates, maps, HMS St. Lawrence, HMS Prince Regent, vessel, control, military strategy

There and Back Again

There and Back Again

Grades: 7 and 8

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

Students will learn about the mechanisms and economic importance of travel between and through the Great Lakes. Students will learn the components of a pound lock, how it works, its goal, and the forces that act within the system through demonstration and experimentation. Using materials provided by the Museum, students will have a chance to build their canal and lock system. The environmental impacts of the canals and locks will be discussed and explored.

Key Words: lock system, canal, Welland Canal, Rideau Canal

All Aboard the Great Lakes

All Aboard the Great Lakes Cruise!

Grades: 2, 4, 6 and 8

Duration: 60 minutes

This program explores travel in the Great Lakes in terms of lock systems and canals, however, the focus is on the SS Cayuga, a passenger steamship that ran from Toronto to Niagara in the 20th century. Students will investigate and analyze the design of steamships. This program offers a glimpse into life in this region during this time. To consolidate their learning, students will plan their own trip aboard the SS Cayuga including designing their route and budgeting for their expenses.

Key Words: steamship, locks, canal, budget, expense, travel