About "Science in Action"

ep. #157 - Sharks--Good and Bad. Earl Herald holding shark jaws.

From 1950-1966 the California Academy of Sciences produced "Science in Action", which was the first syndicated live science television program in the country.

Every week, half-hour episodes aired on various San Francisco Bay Area stations and were eventually syndicated and broadcast throughout the world. Dr. Tom Groody was the first host. In 1952, Aquarium superintendent Dr. Earl S. Herald took over that role and remained host until "Science in Action" went off the air in 1966. The show discussed science topics with prominent guest scientists and featured an exciting segment with live, unpredictable animals. The Academy won dozens of awards for the program, both from viewers and critics alike. Many long-time viewers fondly remember the spontaneity and easy charm of Dr. Herald and learning about science from the program. The Academy holds the administrative files, over a thousand reels of 16mm "Science in Action" films,hundreds of scripts, and hundreds of still photographs from the program. Please contact the library if you would like further information or if you would like to know how you can contribute and preserve a part of science television history. The episodes featured below were digitized in August of 2013 through a generous donation from the California Academy of Sciences' Steinhart Aquarium.

Episode 611- "Aquarium"



Episode 611: “Aquarium” Originally aired February 27, 1966. In this episode of Science in Action, Dr. Earl S Herald takes viewers behind the scenes to the newly remodeled Steinhart Aquarium in 1966.

Episode117: Rare and Exotic Fishes



Episode 117: "Rare and exotic Fishes" first aired on June 2, 1953. In this half of the episode, Dr. Earl S. Herald presents a variety of warm water fish from the world over. Don't miss the animal of the week, the Bactrian Camel.

Using the Collection

The California Academy of Sciences'

"Science in Action" Archives holds:


Very few of the films have been transferred to a digital format and due to conservation concerns, only digitized versions of the films are available for viewing. The Academy's 16mm films and 2" video can be digitized for a fee upon request. Additional material is available for research and may also be used on a fee basis in publications and commercial products. Please contact archives@calacademy.org for costs and more information.

Related downloads

"Science in Action" #87 - "George Vanderbilt Expedition" - Earl Herald.



Dive into the complete"Science in Action" episode list


"Science in Action" # 26 - "How Television Works" - Tom Groody, Ben Draper, _ and Robert Miller with demonstrator.



"Science in Action" script holdings list

Ernest Rook, Arts Director for "Science in Action".



"Science in Action" film reels and 2" videoholdings list

Related links


Earl Herald posing with wall of awards for Science in Action.


List of "Science in Action scripts and administrative files.


"Science in Action" #8 - Photograph of TV screen of title frame - Science in Action.


Watch more digitized episodes on  CAS Video Collections.

"Science in Action" #8 - Photograph of TV screen of title frame - Science in Action.


Get the latest news from the Academy's Science Today "Science in Action" news team.

Contact the Department

  • Academy Library
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5484 (direct)


  • Who can use the Academy Library?

    The Library is open to all staff, students, and volunteers of the Academy during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm).

    Members of the public with a legitimate research interest are welcome to use the collections by appointment.

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    Items from the Academy Library only circulate to Academy Staff for in-house use. Members of the public may view items in the Naturalist Center


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    Librarians are generally available during regular business hours (Monday-Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm).

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    You can contact the Library by

    Phone: (415) 379-5484

    Email: library@calacademy.org



  • How do I look up a book?

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    Confused? Watch a tutorial on searching the Academy Library catalog.

    There are many ways to find items in the Academy Library catalog.

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  • I know what I want, now how do I get it?

    First, look it up in the Catalog.

    If we don't own it, try the following:

    Academy Staff ONLY: Place an Interlibrary Loan request.

    If you do not have Academy Library borrowing privileges, try searching WorldCat.org to see if a library near you owns the item.

  • Can I reuse or publish your photographs or other materials?

    In most cases, the answer is yes.  Please see Scanning, Reproduction & Use for more information.

  • How do I search for archival collections in the catalog?

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