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Science & Nature

“Every common miracle which the child sees with his own eyes makes of him for the moment another Newton.” ~Charlotte Mason

(See also: Zoos & Wildlife)

Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center (Phoenix)
The Wildlife Center’s educational program is a comprehensive and compelling educational experience geared towards students of the fourth grade and higher. The presentation focuses on Arizona’s wildlife and their habitats, and is designed to encourage the students to establish a personal commitment to conserving Arizona’s wildlife. In addition, the Wildlife Center at Adobe Mountain holds an annual Open House and other events where guests can see live native wildlife, participate in educational activities, and view demonstrations. Located at I-17 & Pinnacle Peak Rd.; 623-582-9806.

Arizona Cactus Botanical Garden (Bisbee)
Free guided tours of the garden are available from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week. The garden serves as a giant outdoor classroom for everyone! Their newly-opened library contains over 2,000 volumes. Arizona Cactus Botanical Garden was recently chosen as the 2nd most photographic botanical garden in the United States. An outstanding slide presentation and lecture titled “On the Desert” is available to groups and organizations for a nominal fee. “Indian Use Of Desert Plants” is the title of a lecture that has been enjoyed by thousands. They also offer credit courses in desert survival, landscaping with desert plants, growing cactus and succulents and cooking with cactus, in association with Cochise College. Located at 8 South Cactus Lane, Bisbee, AZ 85603; 520-432-7040.

Arizona Game and Fish Education Program
It’s Fun! It’s Free! The AGFD conducts fishing clinics, with interested groups, throughout the state of Arizona. Volunteer fishing instructors provide all the supplies and materials for this hands-on program. This educational program is designed to promote awareness, appreciation and support for Arizona’s recreational fishing opportunities. For more information, call 602-789-3240, or contact your regional AGFD office. They also offer Hunter Education, Bowhunting Programs, Sport Fishing Education, Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Education, Boating Education, Statewide Archery Program, and Trapper Education programs.

Arizona Science Center (Phoenix)
Hands-on, eye-opening fun! More than 300 exhibits, a state-of-the-art planetarium, five-story giant screen theater, live demonstrations, traveling exhibitions, special programs for all ages, a Science on Wheels outreach program, and community enrichment programs.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson)
A world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden all in one! Also features a faux limestone cave, an exceptional collection of regional minerals, fossils, and geology exhibits.

Biosphere 2 Center (Oracle)
Biosphere 2 was privately constructed in the late 1980s to discover if eight people could sustain themselves in a sealed environment, such as a space colony. The first two-year mission began in September 1991 and was followed by a second, shorter mission in 1993-1994. Biosphere 2 is now the western campus of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The Biosphere 2 Center offers many educational opportunities for K-12 students, teachers and parents. They offer guided educational excursions through the Biosphere 2 Center campus for all age levels including the Passport to Learning K-12 program. Passport to Learning is more than a field trip! It includes three educationally integrated segments with up to three hours of activities taking place in the classroom before the field trip to Biosphere 2. A teacher packet is provided to participants with fully developed classroom pre- and post- field trip lessons and ideas for additional, related lessons. Located at 32540 S. Biosphere Road, Oracle, AZ 85623; Phone: (520) 896-6400.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park (Tucson)
Colossal Cave, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, had been used for centuries by prehistoric peoples when it was “discovered” in 1879. Before tours were taken in Colossal Cave in the late teens and early twenties, it was reputed to have been a bandits’ hideout. The first tours taken through the unimproved cave involved ropes and lanterns. In the mid-1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the buildings, walkways, and wiring. This is a “dry” or “dormant” cave which means that, due to a lack of water, the formations are no longer growing. But the cave is rich with Southwestern beauty and legends of the “Wild West.”

Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix)
The Desert Botanical Garden offers the finest collection of desert plants from around the world in a unique outdoor setting. The garden has more than 50,000 plants on display throughout five thematic trails, which illustrate topics such as Conservation, Desert Living, Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert, and Desert Wildflowers. In addition, the garden offers lectures, workshops, specialized tours, concerts, special events, seasonal exhibits, an outdoor cafe, a gift and plant shop, and many activities for children and families.

Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant (Peoria)
A field trip destination focusing on outdoor and natural resources interactive education. They offer a wide range of programs and activities for all grade levels. (Ancient Ones, Aquatic Life, Archaeology, Arizona Rocks, Bats, Bugs, Cacti, Castaway Kids, Desert Survival, Earth Energy, Ecosystems, Edibles, Feathered Friends, Hike, Impact Monster, Reptiles & Amphibians, Map Relay, Mammals, Mind Boggle, Nature Notes, Park Rangers, Plants, Painted Desert, Native American Games, Tracking, Weather & Climate.) On-site programs include half-day, full-day and overnight visits. The Desert Outdoor Center staff also offers a one-hour off-site program. Reservations require a minimum of 25 people.

Flandrau Science Center (Tucson)
The University of Arizona’s hands-on science exhibits, Mineral Museum, and Planetarium.

Focus Wild Arizona
Focus Wild Arizona is the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s award-winning environmental education program available free to teachers and includes a homeschool program. This program provides lessons about Arizona’s native wildlife and habitats, and promotes not only a sense of awareness and stewardship of the world around us, but also uses the environment as a context for learning science, social studies, math and language arts. The program includes complete lesson plans, books, posters, workshops and much more. Many of these resources are available for download directly from the AGFD Focus Wild Arizona website. Others are available through each regional office or the department’s main office in Phoenix. Homeschoolers can also download a tool kit to help you start your own family-oriented nature club!

Grand Canyon Education Center
The projects and activities of the Grand Canyon Environmental Education Program offer opportunities for educators, students, and visitors to use Grand Canyon National Park as a classroom, linking the preservation of Grand Canyon National Park to the conservation of local communities and individuals’ own backyards. It offers both on-site and off-site environmental education activities to ensure reaching the largest audience possible. All activities are directed at a diverse audience based on age, gender, race, culture, and nationality. While the primary focus initially will be the Park’s visitors and neighboring residents, ultimately the focus will expand to include the communities of the Colorado Plateau and beyond. Throughout the year, school groups, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, homeschool groups, and special study groups visit the park. They may tour the park on their own, or participate in specially designed tours or programs. The Grand Canyon Education Center website contains a complete list of Ranger Programs and descriptions of special programs for teachers and students.

J&R Reptile Wildlife Rescue/Relocation (Cave Creek)
Jeff and Rachael do educational displays, talks at schools and reptile expositions in an effort to educate people about the desert reptiles we share our environment with. For more information, call 480-585-0148.

Kitt Peak Observatory
The world’s largest collection of optical telescopes is located high above the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona under some of the finest night skies in the world. Home of research facilities for the Kitt Peak National Observatory and the National Solar Observatory.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park Interpretive Programs
Desert Survival, Wilderness Survival, Arizona Nature Questions & Answers, Lake Pleasant and Its History, Know Your Knots, Nature Hikes, Morgan City Wash Birding Adventure, Fishing Fun, CAP/Waddell Power and Generating Station Tour, etc.

Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff)
The planet Pluto was discovered here in 1930. They offer regular daytime and nighttime educational programs, including a tour of the Anderson Mesa research site and a stargazing workshop. Located at 1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff AZ 86001; (520) 774-3358.

Marine Discovery Lab, University of Arizona (Tucson)
Marine Discovery is a public outreach program that involves college, elementary and middle school students in an inquiry based and hands-on learning experience. During lab station activities, students have the opportunity to work with live marine animals and teaching specimens. Students are exposed to living and preserved organisms found in the Gulf of California and gain a general understanding of the scientific relationships between them. Student knowledge and interest in ocean life is enriched, and younger students have the opportunity to interact with other, more expert learners.

Mount Graham International Observatory (Safford)
The Graham County Chamber of Commerce is now scheduling tours of the Mount Graham International Observatory. They are conducted on Saturdays, beginning mid-May until mid-November, or until weather prohibits them. The tours feature a trip up scenic Mount Graham, focusing on the mountain’s rich geology, history, and diversity of life; a lunch near the summit of the mountain; and a guided tour of the present observatory facility, which consists of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope and the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope. Also open to the public is the newly constructed 16-story enclosure for what will become the world’s most powerful optical telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope. Telescope assembly began in June 2002 and the telescope is scheduled to be complete in 2005.

Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 1 million acres of critical natural lands in Arizona. Nature walks are offered at Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Hart Prairie Preserve, Hassayampa River Preserve, Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area. Check their website for dates and times.

Oracle Center for Environmental Education (Oracle)
A 4,000 acre environmental education park with approximately 15 miles of hiking trails and child nature education programs. (As of October 1, 2009, Oracle State Park is closed to the public for day-use due to budget reductions.)

Planetary Geology/Space Photography Laboratory at ASU (Tempe)
The Space Photography Laboratory (SPL) at Arizona State University is one in a network of 18 Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF) data centers, established by NASA to archive planetary images for use by the scientific and educational communities. The facility supports the research of the ASU planetary science faculty, students, and staff, as well as the local and statewide educational communities and the general public. SPL houses a collection of images and maps from all U.S. space missions, aerial photographs of the Earth, and much more. Tours of the facility and educational presentations can be arranged by contacting the Planetary Geology Group office at (480) 965-7029. The SPL also holds an annual Open House in October during Earth Science Week, in conjunction with ASU’s Earth Science Day. Also at the Open House, other activities in geology are conducted by the Department of Geological Sciences. These include hands-on rock identification, meteorite displays, earthquake simulations, a scale model of the solar system, and access to the Dietz Museum of Geology and its display of fossils.

Riparian Institute (Gilbert)
The Riparian Institute offers a wide range of field trips, educational programs and classes – including a Junior Ranger Program for 9th-12th graders, and a Discovery Adventure which has prepared activities for use by small groups (families, scouts, homeschool groups, MOM groups, etc.)

Rocks, Minerals, and Mine Tours
The Arizona Dept. of Mines and Mineral Resources has put together a comprehensive list of rockhounding and mineral collecting sites, gold panning areas, operating mine tours, operating mine overlooks, historic mines, mining and mineral museums.

SEE ASU (I believe this event has been discontinued?)
This annual two-day event in March includes demonstrations, hands-on exhibits, presentations, and educational activities from the science, engineering, and environmental communities at Arizona State University. SEE ASU laboratories and museums! SEE demonstrations and hands-on activities! SEE ASU faculty, students, and staff! SEE fossils! SEE Mars! SEE a Moon Buggy! SEE how a dime is coated with gold and what that has to do with integrated circuits! SEE high resolution microscopy! SEE meteorites! SEE Storm Chasers! SEE Center for Environmental Studies and much more! Free admission on both days. Free parking on Saturday. For general information call (480) 965-5373.

Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute (Tucson Mountain Park)
SASI is a model research educational facility in prime Sonoran Desert habitat. Its interpretive trails, laboratory, synoptic collections and a classroom equipped with video, computers and microscopes aid outdoor education and scientific research focusing on the arthropods. SASI provides the general public of all ages with rewarding educational programs both on-site and around the community.

Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (Bisbee)
The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the birds of southeastern Arizona. Its programs include: classroom presentations, school field trips, guided bird walks, tours, and educational workshops at local birding “hotspots”.

Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (Scottsdale)
A non-profit organization that specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife native to Arizona, educating today’s youth on the importance of native wildlife and the environment, and encouraging educational career opportunities in environmental science. The all-volunteer organization offers several engaging “real-life” animal presentations that educate today’s youth on the importance of native wildlife and the environment. Field trips are limited to 30 people; presentation includes teacher resource packet; slide shows and custom presentations also available; donation fee used to help defray cost of animal care.

Stargazing for Everyone
They offer astronomy-space science presentations, classes, field trips, telescope viewing, stargazing and portable planetarium programs for schools, homeschoolers, and groups of all ages. Every program is customized and can be presented from a creation viewpoint.

Do you know of another good field trip destination not listed here?


2 Responses to Science & Nature

  1. Lisa Doskocil

    The Arboretum At Flagstaff has terrific STEM-based field trips and programs aligned with Az curricula. A great location for families and school groups!

  2. Steven Rugg

    Group prices start as low as $5.50 per student with a free chaperone ticket for every 5 students.

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