Plan A Field Trip

Field Trip

NPS photo

A field trip to Saguaro National Park can add a new dimension to your classroom studies and reinforce what you are teaching your students.

As a teacher, you are also welcome to utilize the park for Self-guided field trips which are available year-round or watch the Saguaro National Park Electronic Field Trip and use the associated lesson plans which are designed to be hands-on and adaptable for 4th through 8th grade. The Electronic Field Trip is available upon request.

We encourage teachers and students to get in touch with their environment by exploring the plants and animals of their desert home here at Saguaro National Park. We currently offer the following place-based experiences.

 

Curriculum-Based Field Trips

Rincon Mountain District (RMD) – East District


Desert Diversity: The investigation and science of nature (3rd grade)
Discover the secret life of the giant saguaro, follow the trail of coyotes, Javelina, and deer, explore the unique, dry world of desert plants, and consider the past and future of humans in the Sonoran Desert. Over a 2 ½ hour field trip, students discover their “desert biome neighborhood”, by investigating the adaptations that allow plants and animals to thrive in their desert home. Students will also experience the life of a scientist and learn about the biodiversity of the desert. They will be exposed to the 5 components of scientific research (observe, identify, measure, record, and map) as they are led on a 1/3 mile hike collecting plant data. Students also collect data as park scientist do as they study the saguaro cactus. The program has a STEM focus and a strong science foundation.

This program is offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays from November 15, 2017 through March 30, 2018. Fieldtrips begin at 9:30 a.m. and finish at 12:00 p.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 2 classes (approximately 60 students) Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

A classroom pre-visit, one week prior to the field trip, provides the students with the base knowledge to prepare them for the field trip and enhance their place-based experience.


Desert Communities: Life in the desert 1,000 years ago (4th grade)
Students will explore prehistoric life as it was in the Tucson Basin 1,000 years ago using their imagination and hands-on activities. Over the 2 ½ -hour experience, students will explore the Hohokam Culture by creating a petroglyph, digging into the past with the tools of an archeologist, exploring the hunter-farmer-gatherer life in this plentiful land, and engaging in other everyday life experiences as a child living in the desert. The four, hands-on stations, nestled in a beautiful location against the foot of Tanque Verde Ridge, are curriculum-based and cover many State Standards.

This program is offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays from November 15, 2017 through March 30, 2018. Fieldtrips begin at 9:30 a.m. and finish at 12:00 p.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 2 classes (approximately 60 students) Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

A classroom pre-visit, one week prior to the field trip, provides the students with the base knowledge to prepare them for the field trip and enhance their place-based experience.

 

Tucson Mountain District (TMD) – West District


Fields Studies: An introduction to the scientific method and citizen science (3rd grade)
The preservation and protection of the natural and cultural resources, as well as the habitat of Saguaro National Park, requires park scientists and researchers to understand and monitor the resources and natural processes of the Sonoran Desert biome within the park by using science and the scientific method.

This field trip engages students in hands-on exploration of the plants and animals of the park through STEM, the scientific method, and inquiry based learning. At two different stations, students will explore plants and animals as a scientist or biologist would through observing, analyzing, measuring, and recording their observations in a provided journal. On the last station, students will reinforce their findings while exploring signs of life first hand.
The off-trail experience through rugged terrain will not only provide an opportunity for them to make a personal connection to nature, but will also expose them to Leave No Trace concepts.

This program will be offered on Tuesdays from October 31, 2017 and end on April 3, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 2 classes (62 students maximum). Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

A classroom pre-visit, one week prior to the field trip, provides the students with the base knowledge to prepare them for the field trip and enhance their place-based experience.

Hohokam Life: Life in the desert 1,000 years ago (4th grade)
The Hohokam Life field trip explores interrelationships of the desert plants and animals, and “those who came before”, also known as the prehistoric Hohokam people of the Sonoran Desert. Students will explore life in the desert as it might have been 1,000 years ago through discussion, short hikes, exploration, and hands-on activities. While visiting four stations, students will consider Hohokam communications using petroglyphs, the types of shelters they used in desert extremes, what life was like as a hunter-gatherer-farmer, and the different implements they used to store their food and possessions. Each station is approximately 25-30 minutes in duration including the hands-on activity. Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

This program will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from October 31, 2017 and end on April 5, 2018 from 9:30 - 12:00 a.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 2 classes (62 students maximum).

Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

A classroom pre-visit, one week prior to the field trip, provides the students with the base knowledge to prepare them for the field trip and enhance their place-based experience.


Biodiversity Survey (*new!): The scientific method, citizen science, and real life applications (5th grade)
In order for students to understand the impact of climate change on biodiversity, students will act as citizen scientists by hypothesizing, observing, analyzing data, and interpreting results. This cross-curricular, inquiry based program provides a pre-vist that will train students how to use the scientific equipment (tape measure, camera, Kestral, compass, GPS, and soil thermometer) needed for their survey.

Students will break into four independent groups and through using a key will identify all species on their plot. Each plot is unique providing students the opportunity to compare differences and offer suggestions as to why their results are different. Students, collaborating in pairs, use scientific equipment, along with individual field notebooks, to record data that will be used during the post-visit.

This program will be offered on Mondays from January 8, 2018 and end on April 2, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 1 class (30 students maximum). Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

Classroom pre and post visits are provided just before and after the field trip. The pre-visit provides the students with the base knowledge to prepare them for the field trip and enhance their place-based experience. During the post-visit, students will use the combined class data, and present real-life, critical thinking activities that promote protection and preservation of the park for future generations.

Saguaro Plot Survey: Scientific studies surrounding the saguaro (7th grade and up)
The Park monitors saguaros through a Saguaro Census, a citizen science project conducted every 10 years. This curriculum-based program, with a focus on real, citizen science, will build on the Saguaro Census research program for 7th grade science classes.
Students will gather scientific data on saguaros that will benefit the park's long-term monitoring program, tie into a climate change research, and provide the student with a wilderness experience. Students will survey saguaros and collect data in the field that will assist park researchers who are determining the current status of saguaros in the park. Tools that students will use include the following; GPS units, clinometers, digital cameras, Kestral mini weather stations, and compasses. The off-trail hike through rugged terrain will not only provide an opportunity for them to make a personal connection to nature, but will also expose them to Leave No Trace concepts.

As an extension of the field trip once back in the classroom, students can write a report or produce a graph based on years of data gathered on saguaros, or other similar activity. This program can lends itself to cross curricular teaching and could integrate the student's field trip experience and knowledge to photography, computer use, website construction, English, and other classes.

This program is offered on Mondays from early October 30, 2017 and end on April 2, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 1 class (28 students maximum). Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

A classroom pre-visit, one week prior to the field trip, prepares the students with the base knowledge to enhance their park experience and provides them for the field trip.


Lost Carnivores: Do these species still exist in the park? Students collect data that helps the park find the answer. (7th grade and up)
Preface: Anecdotal evidence indicates that the Tucson Mountains may have lost 5 species of small carnivores due to increasing urban development that surrounds them. These species may be particularly vulnerable due to natural population fluctuations and increasing isolation of the Tucson Mountains. After a recent inventory, no photos were obtained of these small carnivores that had been observed in the past few decades. The park is now engaged in comprehensive research to determine if indeed these species are no longer in the park.

The Field Trip: Citizen Science performed by students will provide additional data and help bring attention to the “lost carnivores” of the Tucson Mountains. Students will collect real world data that will assist managers with a real world problem. The field trip will contribute to the understanding of multiple species within an ecosystem and focus on identifying linkages necessary for wildlife movement, a critical need in this district of the park, especially riparian corridors.

Students will build on a successful current pilot project where they set and check wildlife cameras in the park. Students will also gather data around the camera site, sketch and map the area, and will record notes about the sites environment in a provided journal. Tools that students will use include the following; wildlife cameras, GPS units, digital cameras, Kestral mini weather stations, and compasses. The off-trail hike through rugged terrain will not only provide an opportunity for them to make a personal connection to nature, but will also expose them to Leave No Trace concepts.

This program is offered on Mondays from early October 30, 2017 and end on April 2, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The field trip is free and transportation is provided by the Friends of Saguaro National Park. Group size: 1 class (28 students maximum). Classes are encouraged to have lunch in the picnic area after the program.

Classroom pre and post visits are provided just before and after the field trip. The pre-visit provides the students with the base knowledge to prepare them for the field trip and enhance their place-based experience. During the post-visit, students will use the combined class data, and present real-life, critical thinking activities that promote protection and preservation of the park for future generations.
 

To register for a naturalist-led field trip, complete the registration form.

Fee waivers can be obtained by completing the Fee Waiver Request Application form and submitting it to the park at least 2 weeks in advance.

For information about education programs, contact:
Chip Littlefield
Education Coordinator
Saguaro National Park
(520) 733-5157
email: chip_littlefield@nps.gov

Last updated: November 6, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson , AZ 85730

Phone:

(520) 733-5153

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