Guest Speakers

A Ranger in Your Classroom

A ranger will visit your classroom to lead students in structured activities relating their study of the sciences to Joshua Tree National Park. All education programs are curriculum-based (California State Education Standards, NGSS) and free of charge.

In-Person Visit: Submit a Reservation Request Form

Things to keep in mind while filling out this form:

  • Coordinate with other teachers so that at least three classes are being served during the ranger's visit.
  • Limit group size to one class per program

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.
30 minutes
Standards: NGSS K-LS1-1

Early Elementary

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.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 1-LS1-1; 2-LS4-1

Junior GeoKids
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.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 2-ESS1-1; 2-ESS2-2

What Do Rangers Do?
In this program students will explore the different jobs within the National Park Service. Perfect for Career Day or as a supplement to any unit on community roles.
45 minutes
Standards: CA Social Studies WL.CN1.A, WL.CN2.N

Upper Elementary

Desert Adaptations
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 desert: water.
45-60 minutes
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.
45-60 minutes
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.
45-60 minutes
Standards: CA Social Studies: 3.2; 4.2-3

Pollination Investigation
Activity erupts in the desert during spring! Flowers dot the landscape with color and pollinators flit around ensuring the blossoms come back year after year. Students will learn about the importance of pollinators to desert plants, like the Joshua tree, and will papercraft a 3D model of a desert wildflower to keep. Because of the use of scissors and tape, this program is best suited for 3rd grade and above.
60 minutes
Standards: NGSS 3-LS1-1, 3-LS4-2, 4-LS1-1

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.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS MS-LS4-1

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.
45-60 minutes
Standards: NGSS MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2

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.
45-60 minutes

Prepare Your Class

Our rangers are committed to presenting an engaging educational program to your class. We need a commitment from YOU, our school partners, for success:

  1. Please prepare students with pre-visit materials provided and have program setup ready (if applicable);
  2. Your assistance throughout the program in maintaining the attention, focus, and good behavior of your students;
  3. Follow up with post-visit activities (if applicable).
With your assistance we're certain a ranger visit to your classroom will be a memorable and educational event for all of your students!

Last updated: July 26, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

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