Adventures in Maritime Archaeology



Monday – Friday during school term | 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm

Year Level
Years 4-7
120-180 minutes

$240 per session (maximum 32 students per class)


See booking information below

Join us for a special workshop where students explore a hands-on taste of what maritime archaeologists do through a series of interactive challenges. 

Students will discover some of the ways that shipwrecks are found and explored. They will then work in small teams to investigate how different materials and objects like wood, iron cannon balls, coins, ceramics and human skulls* are affected by being submerged for years, and how these items can be investigated for evidence and conserved for collection or display.

Connections will be made to the shipwrecks in the WA Shipwrecks Museum, which can be explored before or after the lesson.

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the role of a maritime archaeologist, and understand that the WA Museum has a team of maritime archaeologists that work with our collection of shipwreck artefacts
  • Describe some of the techniques and challenges involved in maritime archaeology
  • Understand how the use of source material and historical objects can help tell the story of a shipwreck and the historical period it occurred in

* A replica human skull will be used in the program to discuss how human bones can be used to discover how people may have been injured during or after a shipwreck. Most students enjoy the ‘gory stories’ associated with shipwrecks from the past, but please let us know with contact a few days prior if you think any students will find this upsetting and we will arrange an alternative activity.

What your class will experience

Classes will participate in a two-part 120 minute program (one or two classes)

Part A: Facilitated Lesson – Adventures in Maritime Archaeology (Learning Space, WA Shipwrecks Museum)

  • Learn about the role of a maritime archaeologist, with specific links made to the shipwrecks featured in the WA Museum collection 
  • Discover how wrecks are found and how they are explored (using special equipment and techniques)
  • Investigate how different materials are affected by being submerged in water, and how maritime archaeologists examine these materials to learn more about the related shipwreck 
  • Learn how different objects, such as ceramics, coins, wooden hulls, and cannon balls can be investigated to find out more about where the ship was from, when it was wrecked and what it was doing (e.g. trading, at war, transporting passengers) when it sank
  • Handle real shipwreck artefacts and learn about the importance of materials conservation to Museum collections 
  • This part is led by a Museum Educator

Part B: Self-Guided Gallery Exploration (Inside the rest of the WA Shipwrecks Museum)

  • Explore the rest of the WA Shipwrecks Museum by selecting a self-guided activity that can be conducted in small, supervised groups
  • Teachers can choose from four different trails to find the one best suited to their students’ needs
  • Options for themes include: learning more about the spice trade era, going on a fun hunt for objects on display, selecting your own shipwreck artefact to complete an in-depth analysis or exploring the Museum with a series of fun and interactive challenges
  • This part is led by your adult helpers

Select ONE trail from the following options and print out one copy for each adult helper:

An optional third part, as outlined below, is also available for students participating in the two-part program. For those schools bringing three classes, Part C is incorporated into a 180-minute three-way rotation program.

Part C: (Optional) Trek Through Time Trail OR Shipwreck Games with food and drink break

  • Trek Through Time Trail: Walk in small groups between the WA Shipwrecks Museum and WA Maritime Museum. Visit several historical buildings and sites and, with the help of old photos and paintings, imagine what the locations would have been like in the past and learn the historical significance of each one.
  • Shipwreck Games: Borrow a kit of ‘Olden Days’ games (physical activities) to play on the grass outside the Museum. Rules and guidelines are provided in the kits, although parents and students can make up their own versions of the games. Groups are responsible for packing up the games ready for the next group
  • Before or after doing the walking trail or playing the games, students can have a morning tea or lunch break.
  • In wet weather, Part C will not proceed as games cannot be played inside the Museum. If this is the case, the class will spend additional time on Part B.
  • This part is led by your adult helpers

 Download the Adventures in Maritime Archaeology Learning Resource and print a copy for each adult helper.

Booking instructions

Step 1 – Understanding the rotation

  • We can accommodate up to 3 classes per day – all starting at 10am (start time can be adjusted on request)
  • 1 or 2 classes participate in the 120-minute two-part program with the optional self-guided Museum trail/activities
  • If there are 3 classes, all students participate in the 180-minute three-part program which includes the self-guided Trek Through Time Trail
  • If you are bringing more than two classes we can help create a rotation involving the optional self-guided games (Part C). You can print out and use the following timetable if you wish.

WA Shipwrecks Museum Education Program 3 Group Rotation Timetable [PDF 127KB]

Step 2 – Making a booking

Please send an email to with the following details and we will begin to process your booking:

  1. Program choice: Adventures in Maritime Archaeology 
  2. Preferred visit dates and session times
  3. Number of classes and student numbers in each class
  4. Number of attending adults per class
  5. Contact teacher name, email, and mobile number
  6. School

Step 3 – Planning your visit

  • Please read the points below so you are prepared for your visit to the Museum
  • If you are booking for more than one class, please share this page with your fellow class teachers

Specific to this program

  • Before arriving at the Museum please have students already organised into groups of 4-7 students, each with an adult helper. Having your students already organised into groups will give them more time to enjoy the activities, rather than spending time splitting into groups. If you do not have enough adult helpers, larger groups will need to be arranged when exploring the Museum and grounds, as all groups require supervision in the Museum. The minimum supervisor ratio is 1 adult to 10 students, however a ratio of 1 to 6 is preferred for this activity.
  • Please have the self-guided trails printed before you arrive and give a copy to your adult helpers. Make sure all adult helpers are familiar with the trails and the layout of the Museum. Please note that the self-guided trails/ activities can be completed in any order, so that gallery spaces are not congested
  • Students will NOT require any pencils/paper or clipboards unless you specifically wish them to record their work for later use.
  • Part A: Facilitated Activity starts promptly at your booked session time. Please assemble your class in the courtyard between the WA Shipwrecks Museum and the Education Activity Room. In the event of rain, please assemble in the foyer of the Museum where you will be collected. If you are starting the program with Part B: Self-Guided Gallery Exploration, you may take your students into the Museum to commence this part on arrival.

General to WA Shipwrecks Museum

  • On arrival at the Museum, please check in at the Front Desk to confirm your student numbers, booked session times and emergency contact details.
  • The Museum is open from 9.30am for access to toilets and storage of bags etc.
  • If you are running late please contact the WA Shipwrecks Museum front desk on 9431 8469, or the Customer Relations Team on 1300 134 081
  • There is no onsite cafe at the WA Shipwrecks Museum. We recommend students bring a packed lunch. Cicerello's offers school lunch catering options.

Other key documents:

WA Shipwrecks Museum Excursion Management Guide
Getting to the WA Shipwrecks Museum

Booking conditions

  • We may need to refuse entry if we are already at capacity at your selected Museum and you haven't pre-booked
  • Each part starts on the hour and we are unable to shorten the program (especially if you are rotating with another school)
  • For the best learning outcome, we recommend a maximum of 30 students per session
  • A minimum supervisor ratio of 1 adult to 10 students is required, however a ratio of 1 to 6 is preferred for this program
  • Bookings need to be made 14 days before the date of your visit
  • Changes to dates and times are subject to availability
  • Refunds are not available if you cancel your booking within 14 days of your visit

Please email or call us on 1300 134 081 to discuss other booking options if the above is not suitable.

Curriculum links

Programs and exhibitions at the WA Museum support teachers in their delivery of the WA Curriculum to their students. Adventures in Maritime Archaeology has been developed with reference to the following content description(s) from the Year 4-7 Australian Curriculum.

Year 4-7: Science Inquiry Skills across all year levels will be practised in this program

Year 4


  • The journey(s) of at least one world navigator, explorer or trader up to the late eighteenth century, including their contacts with other societies and any impacts (ACHASSKO84)


Science Understanding – Chemical Sciences:

  • Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties that can influence their use (ACSSU074)

Science as a Human Endeavour – Nature and development of Science:

  • Science involves making predictions and describing patterns and relationships (ACSHE061)

Science as a Human Endeavour - Use and Influence of Science:

  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE062)

Year 5

There are no strong links for this in Year 5 HASS or Science, however classes can still book this experience to explore Science Inquiry Skills

Year 6


No strong links


Science Understanding – Chemical Sciences:

  • Changes to materials can be reversible or irreversible (ACSSU095)

Science as a Human Endeavour – Nature and development of Science:

  • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena and reflects historical and cultural contributions (ACSHE098)

Year 7


Overview of the ancient world – Investigating the ancient past*:

  • How historians and archaeologists investigate history, including excavation and archival research (ACHASSK167)
  • The range of sources that can be used in an historical investigation, including archaeological and written sources (ACHASSK168)  
  • The methods and sources used to investigate at least ONE historical controversy or mystery that has challenged historians or archaeologists, such as in the analysis of unidentified human remains 9ACHASSK169) 
  • The importance of conserving the remains of the ancient past, including the heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ACHASSK171)\

**Although this program will look at archaeological discoveries, excavation techniques, materials analysis and conservation from shipwrecks from the years 1600 – 2000, many of the same concepts can be applied to archaeology from ancient times.


Science as a Human Endeavour – Nature and development of Science:

  • Science knowledge can develop through collaboration across the disciplines of science and the contributions of people from a range of cultures (ACSHE223)



Adventures in Maritime Archaeology is a 2-hour package*** that consists of the following two components:

  • Facilitated program – 60 minutes (approx.)
  • Self-guided exhibition exploration of WA Shipwrecks Museum – 60 minutes (approx.)

For two classes, both classes start at the same time and rotate between the two activities.

An optional 60 minute self-guided Museum exploration (with trail) is also available to extend your visit.

***For three classes, Adventures in Maritime Archaeology is three hours long (which includes allowance for half hour lunch breaks). It includes the facilitated session and the two self-guided parts (exploring the WA Shipwrecks Museum and exploring the surrounding precinct with the Trek Through Time trail or playing on the lawn with Shipwreck Games along with a lunch break). It cannot be shortened due to the class rotations.


    Education resources          

    Download the Adventures in Maritime Archaeology Learning Resource here for linked activities that can be done back at school 

    Visit De Vlamingh’s Journey Education Resources for suggested Fremantle excursion extensions and classroom activities to explore the topic of Dutch, French and English exploration of the WA coast.