National Capital Region Parks - Rock Creek Park title graphic

Contact: Rock Creek Park, 3545 Willamsburg Lane, Washington, DC 20008. Call the Nature Center at (202) 426-6829 or visit our website at

Boulder Bridge crossing Rock Creek
Boulder Bridge crossing Rock Creek

To schedule a program, call the Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium (202) 895-6070, Wednesday through Friday. Please note: Nature Programs, except the Puppet Show, are limited to 30 students per Park Ranger and Planetarium Programs are limited to 75 students per show. Programs are free, but must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance.The Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium is located at 5200 Glover Rood NW, Washington, DC 20015, near the intersection of Military Road and Glover Road.

Visit our website for complete information on our education programs at


Pre-K Seasonal Puppet Show(1 hr) Puppet characters come alive to tell a story of seasonal life in the forest. After the show, hike a trail to search for their friends.

Pre-K Nature Tales (1 hr) A story in combination with a hike, live animals, or other activities introduce young students to a variety of topics. Choose from Animal Babies, Camouflage, Slithering Snakes, Oh Deer, or Turtle Mania.

Curriculum based programs for grades 1-12 will extend your lessons into our outdoor classroom. Appropriate grade levels are noted in front of program titles.

1-2 Sensory Stroll (1 hr) Observe nature in a whole new way! Discover how animals use their senses to survive.

1-3 Meet A Tree (1 hr) Meet a new friend.., a tree! Learn how trees are similar to people and find out why they are so important.

1-3 Flower Power (1 hr) Spring Only. Learn about pollination and the important role butterflies and bees play in making new flowers.

1-3 Magical Seeds (1 hr) Fall Only. Discover the uniqueness of plants and their life cycle. Watch how a mighty plant grows from a tiny seed!

2-3 Habitat Hunt (1 hr) Explore a section of Rock Creek Park's 1750 acres of habitat and find out why it is so important to the animals of Washington DC

2-3 Be a Junior Naturalist! (1 hr) Learn about the skills and tools naturalists use while observing nature.

2-4 Adaptations (1 hr) Win, loose, or adapt! Discover how animals must adapt to thrive in their environment.

4-6 Aquatic Ecology (1 1/2 hrs) Journey through the water cycle and learn the importance of conserving and protecting our water resources.

6 Layers of the Forest (1 1/2 hrs) Explore the forest community from the ground up. Learn why forests take years to build and only a moment to destroy.

4-6 Protecting our Park (2 hrs) Help a Park Ranger protect Rock Creek Park by completing a service learning project such as a watershed cleanup or an invasive plant removal.

7-12 Forest Ecosystems (2 hrs) Apply chemistry and mathematics as a tool to learn more about the health of Rock Creek Park's forest. Also participate in a service learning project by helping to remove exotic invasive plants. These additional programs can be tailored to all ages and/or grade levels.

7-12 Water Quality (2 hrs) Investigate the quality of water in Rock Creek using a combination of bioassessment and chemical tests. Also participate in a service learning project by helping to cleanup the river.

9-12 Bridging the Watershed (4 hrs) Choose one of five performance based science modules focused on the Potomac River Watershed:

  1. Don't Get Sedimental: Runoff and Sediment in the River Students explore surface runoff and learn about the connections between land disturbance and sediment load in the watershed.
  2. Alien Invaders: Assessing Invasive Exotic Species Students observe a distinct ecosystem in a nearby national park and assess the extent of non-native plant invasions that threaten biodiversity.
  3. Water Canaries: Assessing Benthic Macroinvertebrates Students determine water quality by assessing the population of aquatic macroinvertebrates in a nearby National Park.
  4. Talkin' Trash: Make a Litter Difference in Your Watershed Students explore human leavings, trash disposal, and lifestyle choices that create or reduce trash output.
  5. Watershed Watchdogs: Assessing Water Quality Students assess water quality by examining nine parameters to determine a "Water Quality Index" of a park waterway.

The programs listed below can be tailored to all ages and/or grade levels.

Animal Viewing (1/2 hr) Observe our live animals at the Nature Center. Learn how they live, touch their skins and shells, and find out what they eat!

Seasons in the Park (1 hr) Discover the beauty of Rock Creek Park in any season. Hike the nearby forest and look for seasonal changes.

Wildlife Kits Three urban wildlife kits (deer, turtle, owl), designed for pre-K through grade 3, are available for loan from the Rock Creek Park Nature Center. Each kit contains a teacher's guide, materials, books, and objects for hands-on lessons focusing on adaptions and habitats. Contact the nature center to reserve one.

The Nature Center's planetarium provides visitors with the opportunity to view the motion of the stars, constellations, moon, and planets in tonight's night sky. As the only planetarium in the National Park Service, it enables visitors to compare the night sky with urban light pollution to the ideal viewing conditions of the country.

Pre-K The Sky Above Us (30 mm) This program will introduce young learners to tonight's night sky by enabling them to observe the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. Stories about the constellations will peak their imagination and their desire to learn more.

1-3 Wonders of the Night Sky (45 mm) Journey from the city to the countryside without ever leaving your seat. Students will learn about stars, identify some constellations and hear their stories.

4-6 Our Universe (1 hr) The conceptual science of astronomy is made tangible through the combination of active demonstrations and a planetarium program focusing on our universe.

If you would like to schedule a planetarium program for older students, please call the Nature Center and we will tailor a program specifically for your group.

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