Rancocas Nature Center School and Homeschool Programs
Our hands-on, outdoor activities supplement traditional classes.
Our field trips meet NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards.
These programs and other titles not listed are available year-round.
Although most programs are conducted at Rancocas Nature Center in Westampton, Burlington County, many can be brought to your facility.
SCHEDULING A PROGRAM
Programs are suitable for all grades in public, private, or other organizations. Programs for 20-23 students for up to one hour are available at Rancocas for $135 and if brought to your facility, for $175. Programs can be scheduled for Tuesdays through Sundays.
Larger groups can be accommodated by scheduling two or more back-to-back sessions. A repeat of the same program at your facility is $90 per additional program. If additional staff are required for the numbers involved, the price will be higher.
The program fee is due two weeks prior to program date.
To schedule a visit, call (609) 261-2495. To facilitate scheduling please have several possible dates and times in mind. Spring and Autumn dates fill up quickly so make your reservations early.
Many programs are taught outside, rain or shine, so please dress appropriately.
The instructor(s) will contact you a week in advance with specific program details.
Children today spend half as much time outdoors as children 20 years ago. A generation that spends more than six hours a day using electronics, these children are suffering from an epidemic that has been described as "nature-deficit disorder". Studies have shown that children exposed to environmental education perform better academically and have fewer behavioral issues. By introducing children to the natural world now, we ensure a generation prepared to make decisions about the future of the earth.
RNC ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Traveling Seeds--Plants produce a variety of seeds and seed-pods, and distribute them in varied ways to increase their survival. This engaging, hands-on program offers participants the chance to study a sampling of seeds, seed pods, and cones and to explore how these travel in the environment. The program concludes with children acting out "The Challenges in the Life of a Seed." Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Plants produce seeds and a seed is a package containing an embryo and a food source.
- There is a diversity of seeds and seed-pods in the environment.
- A seed's structure determines how it travels in the environment
- Plants use five basic strategies to disperse their seeds and increase their chances of survival.
Scales and Tails--What fascinating group of animals has scales and tails? The reptiles do. This ancient group of animals makes its home in a surprising variety of habitats. This program includes a hands on interaction with Rancocas' resident reptiles and shares information about reptile biology and adaptations. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Scientists classify animals into groups to study them.
- Reptiles are animals that share certain biological characteristics and needs.
- Reptiles live in aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
- Loss of healthy habitats impact animal populations and can result in endangered and threatened species.
The Good, the Bad and the Bug-ly--Insects comprise one of the largest groups of animals on the planet. Through hands-on activities, insect samples, and explorations, participants will learn about the invertebrate life cycle and how not everyone needs to have a backbone to be strong and survive. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Insects are invertebrates and members of a diverse group that share common characteristics.
- The insect life cycle is an example of metamorphosis.
- Insects can be found in a variety of habitats and are an integral component of the environment.
- Insects play an important role in pollination, decomposition, and the food web.
Habitat Explorations/Eco-Connections--All habitats include living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) factors. Using an outdoor space, students will form teams and investigate what's going on in their sampling areas. These hands-on observations will uncover amazing and important interactions (interdependencies) that occur in the natural world and that sustain life on this planet. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Biological/biotic or living factors in an ecosystem grow and reproduce their own kind.
- Examples of abiotic or non-living (physical) factors in an ecosystem such as minerals, rocks, soil, water, sun, and air.
- There are interactions and interdependencies among biotic, abiotic, and combined factors.
- These interdependencies and interactions sustain the ecosystem (sustainability).
Beginning with Birding Basics--Birds can be found in almost every habitat. Over 47 million Americans enjoy bird watching and birding each year, and it's a great way to connect with nature in your own backyard. Engaging activities introduce participants to bird topography, bird classification, bird ID skills, and bird behavior. It's a great way to start on a lifetime of observing our colorful feathered friends. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Birds are a colorful and diverse group that share common characteristics.
- A bird's beak or bill and feet are specialized for its food source and nesting needs.
- Birds are found in backyards, meadows, forests, and wetlands and occupy different niches within these habitats.
- Bird species communicate using unique calls and sounds.
- To identify different bird species observe their structure, behavior, and habitat as well as listen to their calls.
Tri-habitat Investigations--The Rancocas preserve features a variety of hike-able habitats that offer students a unique opportunity to observe and investigate the local wildlife of New Jersey. This program uses three hands-on activities to guide students in the exploration of a meadow, a forest, and a wetland. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- A meadow's plants use different strategies to disperse their seeds and increase their chances of survival.
- The living and non-living components of a forest interact and create a healthy, sustainable habitat.
- We all live in a watershed and activity on the land effects water quality.
Fabulous Frogs--Join us on a "frogging" expedition to learn about our fabulous amphibians. New Jersey is home to 15 species of frogs and toads. The program covers the frog life cycle, frog vocalizations, and various frog and toad habitats. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Frogs and toads are amphibians and share common characteristics with the group.
- Amphibians go through the different stages of metamorphosis as they mature from egg to adult.
- Frogs and toads can be found in a variety of habitats but need a wet environment to reproduce.
- Frog species communicate using unique vocalizations and can be identified by their calls.
Making Sense of Nature--Children are aware of their five senses at a young age and use sensory information to understand their surroundings. This presentation focuses on how human and animal senses are similar and different. A live, resident Rancocas animal will be used as an example of how animals use their senses for survival. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- We have five senses that we use to understand and interpret the world around us.
- Animals also use their senses for surviving in the natural world.
- We may use some of our senses differently from other animals, and their senses may be more or less acute than ours
The Magic of Monarch Migration--Monarch butterflies, those strikingly beautiful orange and black visitors to our summer gardens seem to disappear in the fall. Have you wondered where they go? This presentation will enlighten participants to the monarch life cycle and share the magic of the monarch flight to their winter roost sites. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- The life cycle of a Monarch butterfly includes several stages of metamorphosis.
- Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects that utilize migration as a winter survival strategy.
- Scientists have learned more about the monarch's migration through the tagging of individual butterflies and collecting data about them as they travel south.
Macroinvertebrate Sampling--Did you know that dragonflies and other invertebrates begin their lives in the water? These critters known as macroinvertebrates can be seen with the naked eye and can tell us a lot about the health of a stream. Participants get a truly hands-on experience as they don boots and enter one of Rancocas' tributaries in search of these tiny creatures. Using critical thinking to identify their finds, students will use these specimens to assess the water quality. Objectives: Basic concepts children will learn
- Some insects and other invertebrates begin life in the water, and can readily be found in freshwater habitats.
- By sampling with a net, students can collect an assortment of macroinvertebrates and ID the order of the species.
- Water quality can be assessed by using the presence or lack thereof of these critters.
Other Program Topics: In addition to the programs listed, we can tailor a program to the natural history topic of your choice. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: pollution, decomposition, tracking, skull and bone identification, water quality/watersheds, and plant and tree biology.