Preschool and Kindergarten
Explore Joshua Tree!
Students are welcomed to the desert environment through exploration of how plants and animals survive in such a dry climate. They also learn how Joshua Tree National Park works to protect these plants and animals.
Standards: NGSS K-LS1-1
Birds and Bats
Different living things can accomplish the same tasks in different ways. Students will explore the similarities and differences between birds and bats found in Southern California. They will also learn of the importance of these animals to a healthy, diverse desert ecosystem.
Standards: NGSS 1-LS1-1; 2-LS4-1
While manipulating various natural materials, students will see the effects of slow and fast change on the Joshua Tree geological landscape. Prior to the ranger's visit, please watch this short video
with your class.
Standards: NGSS 2-ESS1-1; 2-ESS2-2
How can a place with so few resources support such diversity in life? Students will actively explore ways in which plants and animals conserve the rarest of all resources in the
Standards: NGSS 3-LS4-3; 4-LS1-1
Erosion and deposition are often difficult processes for students to visualize due to their slow nature. Using natural materials, students will make erosion happen in the classroom and then translate those processes to what they see in Joshua Tree. Prior to the ranger's visit, please watch this short video
with your class.
Standards: NGSS 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2; 5-ESS2-1
Science of the Past
Ongoing archaeological work in Joshua Tree National Park catalogs and protects evidence from thousands of years of human history. In this program students explore artifacts and models which help to tell the story of life in the desert and the changes these cultures endured as European Americans settled Southern California.
Standards: CA Social Studies: 3.2; 4.2-3
Middle and High School
Animals of Now and Then
The desert- home to camels, mammoth, and sloths… wait…what?! During the Pleistocene Ice Age (2.6mya- 12,000 years ago), Southern California was a very different place. Fossil discoveries tell us the story of undeniable climate change and how life either moved, adapted, or died. Students will be engaged in paleontological methods and discoveries in Joshua Tree National Park and how the past gives us glimpses into the future.
Standards: NGSS MS-LS4-1
Discovering the Ancients
Students will learn about desert plant growth and how to ID and age certain species in Joshua Tree. This program provides classroom practice prior to students’ arrival at the park for their Discovering the Ancients Field Trip (must be scheduled separately).
Tune into Tracking
Students will be provided the opportunity to learn how the threatened desert tortoise thrives and how park scientists keep track of the population. Students will track and take measurements of “tortoises” on school grounds. *No live animals will be used.
Issues in Park Management
Surrounded by millions of people in a highly populated part of the country, the park faces many issues when trying to fulfill its mission to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources for all in perpetuity. Using facilitated dialogue techniques, students will explore why they think these issues exist and how the park should react. Teachers can select topics from the following list of current issues: graffiti, climate change, impacts of increased visitation, or the teacher can work with staff on current issues pertinent to the classroom.