School Programs 2021

Welcome back to school, in whatever form it is currently taking in this most unusual year!

We at the Hitchcock Center are here to support you through newly developed standards-based Virtual Nature-based Field Trips and Virtual Classroom programs that can help you advance your students’ comprehension in a wide range of science topics.

In addition to remote learning opportunities, we encourage an outdoor, nature-based approach during in-person school days that can take place on school grounds, on nearby lands, in public spaces or at home with school/Hitchcock Center guidance. Time spent learning from and with nature provides measurable academic, social, emotional, and physical benefits. One of the safest places for learning during this pandemic is the outdoors. Please let us know how we can help you explore ways to use your school grounds for authentic, local science learning while social distancing.

We look forward to working with you in any way we can and so appreciate all that you do as teachers to keep our children healthy, safe and educated!! You are our heroes.

Nature-based Field Trips (Virtual)

Mondays–Fridays, 10am, 11am or 1pm
Field trip length: approximately 40 minutes
Fee per Program: Tier A-$94  | Tier B-$75  | Tier C-$56
Group Size: up to 22 participants, including at least one teacher

These live-stream virtual field trips use Google Meets or Zoom to offer interactive, inquiry-based learning opportunities for school classrooms grades K-6. Upon registration, a pre-recorded video along with suggested activities and resources will be provided to help engage students in the learning activities prior to participating in the live-stream session.

All of our virtual field trips are synchronous. The classroom teacher must attend the field trip with their class. Here are some different options for meeting with your class:

  • One 40-minute session 
  • Two 20-minute sessions 
  • We may also tailor our sessions to meet your class’s needs! Contact Helen Ann Sephton

NEW!!! Engineering Design: Modeling Solutions to Real World Problems

Grade Levels: 3–8
The Hitchcock Center’s Living Building is an exciting teaching tool for sustainability.

Our building demonstrates how natural systems can inform how we design and build for a healthy planet. In this virtual field trip, we will begin with a pre-recorded video tour of our building’s water system. We will learn how our system keeps our water use local, in a way that benefits people and the environment.

Students then participate in a hands-on design challenge to solve a human problem. 

Choose one of the Engineering and Design Challenges appropriate for your students from the menu below. The STE standards are also given for each challenge:

  • Rainwater Capture Students are presented with a real world problem – a shortage of water. They are challenged to create a model of a roof to capture and store rainwater and snowmelt. They must meet certain criteria and work within the constraints of materials and time. Students will test and compare solutions, and discuss improvements to the model. Standards | Recommended Grades: 3-5
  • Water Filtration – Students will be presented with a situation where a human practice has polluted drinking water. They will choose appropriate materials to design and build a water filtration system. Students will compare different systems and discuss improvements to their designs. Standards | Recommended Grades: 3-5

Mountains and Valleys

Ages 9–10 or Grade 4–5
Discover the stories in the stones around us! The Holyoke Range can tell us much about how the Earth’s crust is shaped. It is a geologically unique area, where we can find evidence of shifting tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers, and erosion, all in one place! In this virtual field trip, we will first learn how the everyday landscape provides intriguing clues to the past in a pre-recorded video. Together, we will then explore local geology through video, hands-on experimentation and a live stream video session. STEM standards

Insect Investigations

Ages 5–9 or Grades K–4
What makes an animal an insect? What role do insects play in our world and how are they important to people? In our pre-recorded video, we will become entomologists with a Hitchcock educator to adventure into the woods and search for insects. Learn how to identify an insect, where to find them, and the tools you’ll need to collect them. Plus, learn a ton of cool insect facts along the way! We will also come together in an interactive live-stream video session to share our experiences with insects, observe live teaching insects close up, learn about their complex life cycles, and participate in identification games and quizzes. STEM standards

Life in a Pond

Ages 5–10 or Grades K–5Life in a Pond
A pond is much more than frogs and fish! In a pre-recorded video, we will demonstrate the beautiful web of pond life from algae and microscopic organisms to insect larvae and amphibians. We will learn how to make a simple pond net, read about what makes a pond a pond, and go on a virtual pond tour. You will be given a list of simple equipment to use to successfully collect pond animals, and will be shown how to safely collect and release these animals. Then we will share our experiences through an interactive live-stream session where we will get a close-up look at pond invertebrates (animals without backbones), do a scientific drawing, and experiment with the surface tension of water. STEM standards

Amazing Animal Adaptations

What Do Skulls Tell Us About Animals?Ages 5–9 or Grades K–4
How do animals survive in the wild? We will focus on the amazing diversity of life on the planet and in our area. In our pre-recorded video, participants will be introduced to live teaching animals by tuning into the talk show “Good Morning Animals.” Students will learn about how biology and behavior helps animals survive in habitat in unique ways. In our interactive live-stream video session, we will come together to share our experiences with local animal adaptations in addition to observation of our teaching animals and stuffed mounts. We will also explore the concept of biomimicry and human adaptations through conversation and games. STEM standards

Classroom Programs (virtual)

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 5–8 or Grades K–2
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 1–2pm
September 21–December 18 (no program September 28 or November 2)
Fee per program: Tier A-$61  | Tier B-$50  | Tier C-$37
Group size: up to 22 students, including at least one adult

Have a Hitchcock educator pay a virtual visit to your classroom or home! Our virtual class programs will be focused on specific topics to fit with your science curriculum. You will receive special topic-focused, take-home resources, and a remotely accessible video of a Hitchcock educator that will spark student interest. This will be paired with a 40-minute interactive lesson on Zoom with a Hitchcock educator that will end with a fun game that will check for students’ understanding and reinforce lesson goals.

When registering, choose your first and second preference for a date and time and one of the Virtual Class Program themes below:

  • Life Underground: Does a hole in the earth sound like a comfy place to live? To some animals it absolutely does! Living underground takes serious work but it is also a place many animals make their homes or live out their whole lives. Many of the animals that use the earth as their dwelling live right here in Massachusetts. Come dig in with us!
  • Predator and Prey: Trying to survive out in the wild can be a tough job for any animal, whether you’re a fox looking for a mouse to snack on, or the mouse hiding from the fox! Predatory animals have to hunt other animals for their food and their prey must be smart to avoid them. Both have their place in the ecosystem. Learn more about their special adaptations in this classroom program.
  • Flowers and Plants: Can you eat sunlight and help bees make honey? Flowers aren’t just beautiful to see and pick, they are a vital part of nature. In this lesson we’ll look at flowers, the special adaptations they use to thrive in our world, and how we’ve come to depend on them as humans.
  • Insects: What makes an animal an insect? What role do insects play in our world and how are they important to people? Come learn about the adaptations, life cycles and ecology of one of the most successful groups of animals on earth.
  • Decomposers: What happens to plants and animals after they die? Or the banana peel you aren’t going to eat? They become a tasty buffet for some vital critters in the food chain. Decomposers act as nature’s “clean-up crew”– they consume dead animal carcasses, decaying plant material and waste products from other members of the ecosystem. At home you can search for, observe, and study the work of decomposers, and together we’ll explore why these small critters play such a big role.
  • Metamorphosis: We all go through changes in our life, but metamorphosis tops any changes humans can do. Butterflies, frogs, millipedes, all of them experience this incredible process. Learn about the life cycles of our metamorphosing friends in this virtual classroom program.


Alignment with the Massachusetts Science & Technology/Engineering Framework

All programs are aligned with both the current and the revised Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Framework. In Massachusetts there is a strong focus on students mastering the practices of Science and Engineering. Our programs include one or more of these practices:

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