Field Trip Programs

Classrooms are invited to visit the beautiful new Hitchcock Center, as well as other distinct natural areas of the Pioneer Valley through a variety of hands-on, inquiry-based field trips. The Hitchcock Center can accommodate 2 classroom field trips at a time. A complete listing of field trip programs is available below. A number of our field trips can also be adapted to be a one-hour classroom program (fee: $175 + travel) including our Habitat Studies, Animals in Winter, Tree and Me, Forest Ecology, Insect Investigations, Life in a Pond, and Pond Ecosystems.

Program Fees Effective July 1, 2017
Field Trip (2 hours): $225 per classroom + travel fee
Field Trip (2 hours) and Classroom Pre-trip (1 hour): $390 per classroom + travel fee

Money for Buses 
The Massachusetts Cultural Council provides grant money to help pay for the cost of busing students to field trips. For more information, visit their web site and look for the Big Yellow School Bus Grants. You will find the application form there.

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


NEW! Inspired by Nature: Engineering and Design

Grade Levels: 3-7
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
The Hitchcock Center’s new Living Building is a teaching tool for sustainability. Students will learn about how natural systems can inform human innovation as they explore the building’s water, waste and energy systems. They will participate in a design challenge to solve a human problem in a way that mimics nature’s solutions. This is an indoor field trip and can take place year round.

What Do Skulls Tell Us About Animals?
Grade Levels: 3–5
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
All animals, whether they are herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores, must find enough food to survive the winter. Using the Hitchcock Center’s skull and mounted animal collection, we will study the characteristics and adaptations of local animals. Outdoors, we will look for signs of animal activity and learn about their habits. Snowshoes may be used in winter.
Group size: Up to 24 students. We can provide snowshoes for students and 2 adults.
Animals in Winter

Grade Levels: PreK–2

Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
The world is very much alive in winter. We can learn about that life by following the tracks and signs of the animals around us. We will explore animal homes, food, signs and various adaptations that animals use for surviving in the cold, snowy months. We will learn to recognize tracks and signs that tell a story about an animal’s life during this challenging season.

Life in a Pond

Grade Levels: PreK–2
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
A pond is much more than frogs and fish! It demonstrates a beautiful web of life from algae and microscopic organisms to insect larvae and amphibians. We will use our limnology lab to practice techniques for observing small aquatic creatures and learning about their unique life cycles and adaptations. At the pond, we will collect and observe several varieties of invertebrates that depend on this habitat.

Pond Ecosystems

Grade levels: 3–5, & 7
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
As a local place for students to experience an ecosystem at work, there is nothing like a pond! Students will collect and observe a diversity of fascinating animals and plants whose adaptations to living in water are truly astonishing. They will evaluate the health of a pond by carrying out simple water chemistry tests as well as by identifying animal indicator species.

Insect Investigations

Grade Levels: K–4
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
What makes an animal an insect? What role do insects play in our world and how are they important to people?  Students will learn about the science of entomology through a live insect lab, and will collect insects, and their non-insect relatives, in various habitats on our trails. Through these activities, we will learn about the adaptations, life cycles and ecology of one of the most successful groups of animals on earth.

Habitat Studies

Grade Levels: 1–5

Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
Every living thing needs a home or a habitat to survive. The Hitchcock Center has a variety of local habitats on site to experience first-hand. Just as each neighborhood has its own needs and inhabitants, each habitat has its own animals, plants, and interactions. Our trip will take us through forest, field, wetland and pond where we will focus on the components of each habitat and the adaptations of the animals and plants that live there.

Life of a Tree

Grade Levels: PreK–2
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
Trees are essential to forest ecosystems and the animals that live there. In this field trip, students will learn about tree anatomy and function while comparing trees to our own bodies. Students will have the opportunity to sharpen their observation skills as they explore life in and around a tree. Our forest exploration will reinforce tree life cycles, components of a forest ecosystem and seasonal changes.

The Forest Ecosystem

Grade Levels: 3–5
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
The forest is a dynamic ecosystem and is also an ideal classroom. Through a variety of activities, students will learn about plant life cycles, and the energy transfer through the food web from producers to consumers to decomposers. Seasonal changes allow for variations in themes (e.g. foliage, buds, photosynthesis).

Mountains and Valleys: The Geology of the Pioneer Valley

Grade Levels: 4–8
Massachusetts Curriculum Standards
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 day’s field trip! Students will learn how fascinating geology can be and how the everyday landscape provides intriguing clues to the past. This trip is based at Skinner State Park and involves some light hiking.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment