Environmental Education

kids on porch

Young naturalists learning how and where animals live

NPS Photo


Beginner programs introduce preschool and kindergarten learners to the wonders of nature.

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.

4-6 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:

  • Watershed Watchdogs: Assessing Water Quality Students assess water quality by examining nine parameters to determine a "Water Quality Index" of a park waterway.

    Chemistry or environmental science students study nine parameters that will help them determine the Water Quality Index (WQI) for Rock Creek, or one of its tribitaries.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Water Canaries: Assessing Benthic Macroinvertebrates Students determine water quality by assessing the population of aquatic macroinvertebrates in a nearby National Park.
  • Talkin' Trash: Make a Litter Difference in Your Watershed Students explore human leavings, trash disposal, and lifestyle choices that create or reduce trash output.

Washington, D.C. metropolitan area high school teachers of Earth Science, Biology, Environmental Science, and Chemistry are invited to attend a two-week teacher-ranger summer institute. Institute attendance is required. New participants need to be acquainted with the Bridging the Watershed curriculum, program logistics and become familiarized with Park resources. Visit the Bridging the Watershed web site at: http://www.fergusonfoundation.org for more information.

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.

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