The Nature Museum offers science and nature workshops that correlate with Next Generation Science Standards.
School groups can register for these creative, hands-on programs to enhance a field trip experience and enrich learning outside of school. Titles and descriptions of available workshops are listed below.
Workshops are 45 minutes unless otherwise noted.
Outdoor workshops (designated by 🍂) are available from May 1 through October 31. Please note that outdoor workshops will be taught rain or shine (excluding dangerous weather conditions). Please make sure that you and your students are dressed appropriately and prepared to spend 45 minutes outdoors.
Please note: Indoor workshops are not available from June to August. You may only register for outdoor workshops during this time.
Pre-K & K
Nature is Sense-ational | NGSS: ESS3 🍂
Awaken your senses and embark on an outdoor adventure! Join a Nature Museum Educator on an exploration of the Museum grounds. Students will discover the sights, sounds, feels, and smells of nature in the city!
Bugs Alive | NGSS: LS1, ESS3
Observe live insects from the Nature Museum’s collections! Students will learn more about the ways that these animals move, eat, and protect themselves from danger. Each student will have the opportunity to compare and contrast several different live insects.
Secret Gardeners | NGSS: LS1, ESS3
Create a seed pocket to take back to your school! Students develop an appreciation for local nature as they learn about planting seeds through hands-on activities that highlight how native plants grow and how they are important to animals, including humans.
Grades 1, 2 & 3
Habitat Explorers | NGSS: LS1, LS3, LS4 🍂
Go outside and explore prairie, pond, and wooded habitats on the Nature Museum grounds! Students will practice making careful observations as they examine plants and animals in various outdoors areas. Students will compare and contrast the different elements of each habitat including the plants and animals that live in each.
Animals Up Close | NGSS: LS1, LS3, LS4
Meet two live animals from the Nature Museum’s collections! Students will observe the animals’ features and movements and use critical thinking skills to compare and contrast the animals’ bodies, behaviors, and habitats.
Metamorphosing Monarchs | NGSS: LS1, LS3, LS4
Watch a classmate transform into a butterfly! Students will become butterfly scientists and learn about the body parts and life cycle of butterflies. They will also create their own butterfly life cycle models to take home and use to teach others what they know.
A Seed’s Journey | NGSS: LS1, LS2
Find out how seeds travel from one place to another! Students observe real seeds and do hands-on investigations to compare and contrast the ways that these seeds move. Students will also record their observations and results in journals to take back to school.
Grades 4 & 5
Ecology Rangers | NGSS: LS1, LS2, LS4, ESS3
Go outside and observe prairie, wetland, and urban woodland ecosystems! Students will increase their knowledge of Illinois ecosystems by observing living and non-living things on the Nature Museum grounds and by evaluating how the parts of each system interact and work together.
Worm Investigations | NGSS: LS1, LS2, ESS3
Get an up close look at the red worms that work at the Nature Museum! Students will observe red worm behavior and investigate environmental preferences. Students learn how these worms can recycle food and paper waste and then practice classifying items that can and cannot be fed to red worms.
Exploring Butterfly Conservation | NGSS: LS1, LS2, ESS3
Observe and compare rare and endangered Midwest butterflies, including metalmarks, checker-spots, and fritillaries! Students will learn about the characteristics of native butterfly habitats and the Nature Museum’s conservation research initiatives. By reviewing basic butterfly biology and exploring the unique needs of local butterflies, students gain an understanding of how people impact Midwestern butterfly populations.
Amazing Biodiversity (90 minutes) | NGSS: LS2, LS4 🍂
Compare the biodiversity of different outdoor areas on the Nature Museum grounds! Students use sampling, systematic observation, and data collection techniques to gather information about the plants present in each location. By graphing, analyzing, and comparing data, students will determine species richness and biodiversity in the two areas.
Interpreting Ecosystems | NGSS: LS2, ESS3 🍂
Get outdoors and investigate various urban ecosystems on the Nature Museum’s Nature Trails! Students will observe and record the diversity of living things in two of Illinois’ most dominant natural environments. By considering the changes in these natural areas over time, students will evaluate the roles humans play as a part of these prairie and lawn ecosystems.
What’s the Buzz about Bees? | NGSS: LS1, LS2, LS4, ESS3
Examine various bee specimens from the Nature Museum’s collection! Students will analyze data to determine trends in bee populations and the impact on local ecosystems, as well as obtain information on current conservation efforts.
H2O Investigations | NGSS: LS2, ESS3
Find out what the invertebrates found in water really say about the water’s quality! Students learn about water quality indicators, tolerant and intolerant species, and citizen science initiatives while identifying preserved macroinvertebrates. Students then use their findings to analyze the health of a water sample.
*Programs are modified appropriately for the grade level indicated by the teacher on the Field Trip Request Form.
Cost & Payment
Kindergarten – Grade 12 workshops have a maximum of 30 participants, and Pre-K workshops have a maximum of 20 participants. Each school classroom must register for its own workshop. To ensure the quality of the hands-on experience, schools may not combine multiple clasrrooms into one workshop. Groups with workshops exceeding the maximum number of participants without prior approval will be charged for an additional workshop.
- $135/45-minute workshop
- $175/90-minute workshop
- Payment is due 14 days before the date of the visit or programs will be cancelled.