Classroom Programs

Our classroom programs use the scientific process, live animals, and hands-on activities to help students learn about a wide range of life, earth, physical and environmental science topics. In addition to the classroom programs listed below, a number of our field trips can be adapted to a one-hour classroom program including our Habitat Studies, Animals in Winter, Tree and Me, Forest Ecology, Insect Investigations, Life in a Pond, and Pond Ecosystems.

Program Length
1 hour

Program Fee Effective July 1, 2017
$175 + travel fee

To register for a classroom program, please contact Helen Ann Sephton, School Programs Coordinator by email or at 413-256-6006.

Classroom Programs

NEW! Busy Beavers: An Engineering Design Challenge

Beavers are often called “nature’s engineers” due to their remarkable ability to change their habitat. This keystone species has amazing adaptations that enable it to survive and thrive, especially in the northeast, and students may have seen evidence of beavers in their community. This lesson aims to introduce students to beaver adaptations and then focus on the engineering aspect of building dams. After learning why and how beavers build dams in the wild, students will design their own dam using provided materials, work with a team on a unifying design, and build, test, re-design, and re-test their dams. Learn more about this program.

Small Animals and the Practice of Science

Grade Levels: K–2
Children are naturally drawn to animals and our programs foster this curiosity and wonder while teaching respect for all living things. Children will have the opportunity to watch a box turtle crawl on their classroom floor and to observe a variety of other animals up close. Working as scientists in a live animal lab, students will make observations and record them through drawing and writing. Our selection of live animals does change periodically, but we currently have Speedy the Box Turtle, land snails, Thailand Walking Sticks, and various other arthropods.

Local Animals and Their Adaptations

Grade Levels: 3–6
How do animals survive in the wild? Meet some live and mounted local animals, and learn how their biology and behavior helps them to survive in their habitat. An educator will bring animals from forest, field and wetland habitats to your classroom, and students will learn about the amazing diversity of life in our area.

Live Animal Inquiry

Grade Levels: 2–4
Inquiry is the natural way we find things out about our environment and our relationship to it. It involves making observations, asking questions, and investigating those questions. In this exciting lesson, students will carry out an inquiry investigation of a live animal, learning the steps scientists take to set up a fair test and record data. They will come away with a deeper understanding, both of the process of doing science and the animal they investigate.

Water in our World

Grade Levels: 5
Where does our drinking water come from? How much water do we need? How do we protect this precious resource? These questions are explored through hands-on activities, discussion and small group work. Lesson content varies with grade level, focusing on the water cycle and conservation in the early grades, and ground water issues in older grades.

Energy Investigations

Grade Levels: 4–8
Energy is both in the news and in the Massachusetts Framework. This award-winning curriculum will help you and your students understand where our energy comes from in Massachusetts and how it is generated. You will explore both renewable and non-renewable energy sources and generate electricity using a simple generator, solar collectors, mini-wind mills (turbines), and water wheels (turbines). There is an emphasis on sustainable technologies and carbon emissions, and making the connection between human activities and climate change.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment