Self-Guided Tahoe Science Center Tour

Welcome to the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center! It appears you have dropped by when we do not have an educator on duty. Fortunately, you have discovered the self-guided tour and we welcome you to explore the science center at your leisure. Grab one of the self-guided tour brochures located at the front desk of the science center for a recommended route through the science center that will maximize your experience. This webpage is designed to augment your self-guided tour with additional information and resources. Scroll down and click on the links below to learn more about the different exhibits highlighted on the map.

At the end of your tour, please fill out the visitor exit survey either on your phone or on the iPad located at the front desk. Your feedback is valuable to us as we use it to track the usefulness of this experience as well as a way to further enhance our visitor experience. We hope you have enjoyed your self-guided tour and learned something new about Lake Tahoe and the research of UC Davis.

If you have any specific questions, please email

To visit us again for a guided experience that includes our award-winning 3D movie “Lake Tahoe in Depth,” visit Activity Tickets to reserve your future tour.

Leave a review and stay connected, learn about our events, our current research, and hopefully we will see you again in the future!

Self-guided map of the Tahoe Science Center
  1. Lake Tahoe Watershed Map - Investigate this bathymetric (underwater topography) and topographic map of Lake Tahoe and the watershed. Try to locate the deepest point in the lake!
  2. Lake Tahoe in Depth Touchscreens - These touchscreens offer real-time data of Lake Tahoe’s water temperature, wave height, water level, and much more. Touch the Images or Activities button to view seasonal photos and learn about the activities available at different locations. Look through the Incline Village photos and see if you can spot Pepper the dog, he is TERC’s small but mighty mascot!
  3. Underwater Lake Tahoe Lounge - Discussion questions are available to spark conversations! Test your skills of deduction with the underwater scavenger hunt. Can you find the Tahoe Sucker? Which species is your favorite?
  4. Take Care Tahoe flip-panels - Learn how to help Take Care of Tahoe. Find the people floating on the river and see what advice they recommend!
  5. Green building exhibit - This building was the first certified LEED Platinum green building and laboratory in the Tahoe Basin. Learn about the features that make this building special. Note that there are “Green Points of Interest” signs scattered around the entire building that highlight the unique features found here.
    • See the box of grey dusty material? This is fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion. The concrete in this building was mixed with fly ash to strengthen and reinforce the concrete as well as lock up the carbon in this potentially harmful waste product. Fly ash also gives the concrete a unique feel! Touch the grey pillar next to the hands-on exhibits to experience this velvety texture.
  6. Hands-on activities - Check out the Trees of Tahoe, Rocks of Tahoe, Erosion, Why is Tahoe Blue?, and Measuring Clarity activities. Do you understand why Lake Tahoe is blue now?
  7. Tahoe’s Plastic Problem - Interactive activities go from left to right as you discover how the plastics brought to Lake Tahoe are here to stay. They might get smaller and become microplastics, but they never go away. Learn how you can take action against plastic pollution!
  8. Virtual Research Vessel - Touch the small screen at the front of the boat to start. There are three short videos to choose from. Learn more about some of the current TERC research conducted at Lake Tahoe.
  9. Working Together for the Lake photo wall - Discover nine different fields of science that are a part of TERC research. Do you see anyone you know in these photos?
  10. Virtual Laboratory - Touch the small screen near the lab counter to start. There are four short videos you can watch to learn more about some of Lake Tahoe’s past and present environmental issues.
  11. Native and Non-native Aquariums - We currently house two native Lahontan cutthroat trout and two invasive species (Blue gill and Asian clams). The Lahontan cutthroat trout were raised here from eggs as part of the annual Trout in the Classroom program. The non-native bluegill was removed from the Tahoe Keys. Spend a few moments observing the different fish species. What differences do you notice in their breathing and swimming patterns?
  12. Augmented Reality Sandbox - Follow the directions on the signs around the sandbox and turn on the projector above the sandbox, build mountains or lakes, and use your splayed hand (five fingers spread apart about 1 to 1.5 feet above the sand) to make it rain. Please make sure to help us conserve energy by turning it off before you leave! Press the green button twice to turn off the projector.
  13. 3-D Theater - Unfortunately, the 3D theater films are only available during guided tours. Schedule your guided tour today to see our award-winning “Lake Tahoe in Depth” in 3-D.
  14. Kid’s Station - Grab a colorful “Discover the Waters of Lake Tahoe” activity booklet to take home for your kids.
  15. Fish Touchscreen - All the native and non-native Tahoe fish species have a lot to say! Touch the Aquatic Invasive Species Timeline to hear about the impacts they have on the aquatic ecosystem.
  16. Donation Buoy - Donations help fund research and science education here at TERC. See what happens after you add a donation to the buoy!
  17. Visitor Exit Survey - Thank you so much for visiting the Tahoe Science Center. These self-guided tours are new and your feedback is very important as we continue to refine and improve upon this experience. Fill out the Visitor Exit survey and let us know what you like and what could make this tour even better! You can also leave us a note in the Visitor Guestbook.