Science & Nature Programs

Science & Nature Programs

The Outdoor Nature Classroom offers a splendid immersion into life and environmental science experiences reinforcing its content with a unique “hands-on” discovery approach learning style. Animal and plant life investigations supplemented with additional Earth, life, and physical science instruction including: weather, rocks/minerals, human anatomy, simple machines, force/motion, map & compass orienteering, electricity/magnetism, scientific classification system. Wooded biodome features a bird station and approx. two miles of walking/snowshoe trails over our 140+ acre grounds.

Note: All programs run approximately 1 hour, unless otherwise noted, and can be adapted to meet teacher’s specific needs.

Birds! Birds! Birds!

(Pre K-4th) Students are introduced to bird characteristics and adaptations through the use of hands-on specimens (eggs, nests, wings, birds, and feathers). Younger visitors will learn about bird differences and similarities. Weather permitting, a visit to our bird station for feeding and viewing concludes this program.

(Pre K-5th) Discussion and activities include size comparisons, fish vs. mammal characteristics, teeth vs. baleen, feeding styles, echolocation, and adaptations for living in water. Program includes hands-on specimens and the opportunity to meet “Matilda”, our life-sized minke whale!

Menagerie of Mammals
(Pre K-6th) Program includes introduction to the major characteristics of mammals using many hands-on specimens including pelts, skulls, scat, and vertebrae. Students will examine specimens of herbivores, omnivores, carnivores, adaptations, horns, and antlers. Older students are introduced to the classification system of vertebrates. Weather permitting, a walk through our wooded trails to explore signs of mammals culminates this program.

Discover a Forest
(2nd-5th) Concepts include types of forests, forest layers, producers, consumers, and decomposers, food chains, habitats, non-living components, forest products and services. Weather permitting, a sensory activity through the woods concludes this program.

Simply Machines
(3rd-6th) Students discuss what simple machines are, learn the 5 basic types of simple machines, and categorize tools and kitchen utensils into these 5 groups. Then they perform hands-on activities that further demonstrate the 5 types of simple machines and how they make our work easier.

Decorate a Tree
(Pre K-K) Children are briefly introduced to bird characteristics before settling down to make food wreaths for our feathered friends. Excellent fine-motor activity. The program concludes with a walk in the forest to hang our wreaths and bird watch.

What’s Wild-What’s Not
(Pre K-K) Our youngest visitors examine and brainstorm the differences between wild and tame animals. Includes introduction to animal needs for food, water, and shelter. This program is highly interactive, using mounted specimens, puppets, animal parts, and felt boards.

Tree Talk ‘N Touch
(Pre K-2nd) Students compare trees to people, explore and discuss rings, roots, stems, bark, and leaves, then examine both conifer and deciduous trees. A walk through our wooded trails to make bark and leaf rubbings concludes this program.

(Pre K-3rd)This program is designed to introduce our visitors to seeds and their characteristics, seed dispersal, seeds as food, seed parts, and the life cycle of plants. Students can take a walk on the grounds to collect seeds, or plant seeds in the classroom.

Investigating Insects
(Pre K-3rd) Students will discuss the physical characteristics of insects, including body segments, mouth parts, and wings. Through the use of dried specimens and a brief power point presentation, students are introduced to insect families. Weather permitting you’ll collect and study live insects with magnifying lenses. Available August, September, May, and June.

Weather Wonders
(K-5th) This program will help your students discover the world of weather. Emphasis is placed on the discussion of the four seasons and what causes our changing weather. Students learn about cloud types, temperature, air pressure, and precipitation while using weather instruments to measure each. Older students will learn about the earth’s tilt, rotation and revolution.

Winter Tracks
(1st-3rd) Who came this way and how do we know? Animal signs are all around us. Your students will discuss major signs and examine, nests, scat, and of course tracks. Weather and snow pack permitting, a walk in our woods will conclude this program. An alternative indoor stamping activity available. Available January and February

Four Directions
(2nd-3rd) This class begins with an introduction to map skills and compass use. We work with a globe and world map to review continents, oceans, and directions, then create a felt map. Students also learn how to use a basic compass to go on a “treasure” hunt.

As a Matter of Fact (Allow 1 1/2 hours)
(3rd-6th) This program begins with a review of the concepts of Matter and Mass, followed by hands-on activities exploring physical characteristics and changes. The difficult concept of chemical change is then introduced and reinforced with several hands-on activities and experiments that allow elementary students to initially grasp this concept.

The Human Body / Of All the Nerve
(4th-6th) Students will learn the three parts of the nervous system. Brainstorm the functions, demonstrate process of nerves sending messages to the brain, discuss voluntary and involuntary movements, do demonstrations while discussing the five senses, study the functions of the three parts of the brain, sketch the areas of the cerebrum (showing what parts of the body each area controls) and then work on brain teasers.

The Human Body /Breath In, Breathe Out
(4th-6th) Students will brainstorm the parts of the respiratory system. Then using manipulators and action they will explore each of these parts. They will act out blood picking up oxygen at the lungs and releasing it to the cells. This is followed with an activity to discover lung capacity. Student will also explore the function of the diaphragm and measure their breathing rate.

The Human Body/Bone Appetite
(4th-6th) Students will brainstorm and discuss the functions of the skeletal system, be introduced to facts about bones using some hands-on materials, demonstrate various joints, learn some bone names using a song (“…bone’s connected to…”) in English and Latin, and then assemble a paper skeleton. When available, students may also assemble the moose skeleton.

Natural Delight (Apple Cider)
(Pre K-5th) Students discuss flower and fruit production, then press apples into cider. before learning about the Center’s cider press. Students in small groups will learn how to use the press while students in the classroom practice math skills while measuring apples. Everyone comes together in the end to press cider and have a tasty treat. Available late September – mid October. (Materials fee applies. Please inquire.)

Tree Know How
(3rd-6th) This program discusses differences between coniferous and deciduous trees, compound and simple leaves, alternate and opposite placement, and leaf margins. Students learn how to use a dichotomous key and practice identifying trees on our grounds.

Tropical Rain Forest
(3rd-5th) This program compares and contrasts the Maine forest ecosystem and the rain forest ecosystem. Concepts taught include: biodiversity, forest layers, and forest products. Hands-on activities reinforce concepts taught.

Habit of Habitats
(3rd-5th) Students explore the various biomes of the world while discussing and examining specimens of the living and non-living components of each.

It’s a Small World After All/Microscopes
(3rd-5th) Students will be briefly introduced to the history of magnification. They will then be introduced to several different types of hand lenses and microscopes. Students learn the parts of a microscope and the proper way to use it. To conclude this program students will use microscopes to examine a wide variety of material. Older students will be able to prepare a slide to examine. Habitats, needs or living organisms, and adaptations are also studied.

Map & Compass
(4th-6th)Students examine several types of maps to review continents, oceans, hemispheres, contour lines, longitude & latitude, and then learn to read and use a compass. The class will enjoy an outdoor activity using their new compass skills. Maximum class size 25 students

Classy-fication (Allow 1 1/2 hours)
(4th-6th) Students work and classify materials by characteristics and are then introduced to the Linnaean classification system as they explore the five kingdoms, invertebrate, and vertebrate phyla, and lasses of vertebrates using organism specimens and handouts.

Owl Pellets (Allow 1 1/2 hours)
(3rd-5th) This program begins with a basic discussion about owl characteristics. Students then take the role of research scientists as they dissect and owl pellet to discover what had been eaten by the owl. NOTE: Teachers please schedule at least 2 weeks prior to ensure us time to order pellets. (Materials fee applies. Please inquire)

Minerals (Allow 1 1/2 hours)
(3rd-5th) This program introduces students to the characteristics of minerals followed by hands-on identification testing for luster, hardness streak, and acid on 10 various minerals. Sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock formation processes are also discussed.

Plant Factory
(3rd-6th) Students discuss plant parts and functions. Leaf anatomy such as guard cells, stomata, chlorophyll, leaf margins and arrangements will also be included. Emphasis is placed on the process of photosynthesis. Program ends with students dissecting a plant.

Pond Study (Allow 2 hours)
(3rd-5th) This program is held at the Easton Pond. Students use various instruments to explore this ecosystem and determine the health of the pond using data from pH and temperature readings, and the various organisms collected. Maximum 25 students. Available August, September, May and June.

Water Cycle
(4th & up) Fundamental review of essential components of the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth. Comprehensive utilization of planetarium video projector to visually enhance new vocabulary along with hands on demonstrations. Outdoor recognition and identification of water reservoir included. Prepare yourself for an active and meaningful experience. Special Digital planetarium show: “Cosmic Colors” introduced to reinforce the immense wonder of the Earth and related bodies in the solar system.