Southern Delaware is a naturally great place for Science & Nature students!
Our area encompasses Atlantic Ocean beaches, bays, dunes, rivers, coastal marshes, coastal forests, agricultural lands, stunning wildlife (Southern Delaware is located along the Atlantic Flyway, so budding birdwatchers will be especially interested in spring and fall migrations,) the northernmost cypress swamp in the continental United States, and lots more.
That means we’ve got a raft of kid-ready resources and programs including nature centers, museums, and farms brimming with awesome, interactive opportunities and dedicated, experienced educators and docents who love teaching kids of all ages and grade levels all kinds of really cool stuff. Many of these organizations, in fact, have developed and are continually updating programs and curriculums designed to meet current educational standards. Take a look…
Students: Don't forget to print out your Field Trip Passport!
The information below was provided by the individual sites. For additional information, please contact each site.
Abbott’s Mill Nature Center
15411 Abbotts Pond Rd
Phone number: (302) 422-0847
Days/Hours of operation: Nature Center: 9 am – 4 pm, Monday – Friday, 12 pm – 4 pm, Saturday – Sunday (April through November only). Trails: Open from Dawn until Dusk, 7 days a week
Guided lesson/tour: Self-directed tour - Visit our Nature Center for animal exhibits and enjoy a walk on our trails. We have an accessible boardwalk along the stream. Trail maps are available. To schedule educational programs for your Home School group, please contact the office. We require minimum program fee, based on 12 participants, and length of the lesson. For self-guided tours, please note posted hours of operation.
Programs & Field Studies: Abbott's Mill offers a variety of public programs throughout the seasons. Please check our Facebook page for details. On weekend afternoons, April through August, join a Teacher/Naturalist for a family program. The "Running of the Mill" takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month, April through October (Free for DNS Members, $5 for Non-members). Abbott’s Mill also offers a variety of experiential, hands-on educational field studies for students, K-12, based on the DE Science Curriculum Standards. At the Abbott's Mill site, programs focus on the plants and animals of our habitats: stream, pond, meadow and woodlands and the historic Gristmill; at Slaughter Beach we engage students in marine studies and geology. To reserve a program and date, please contact the office. A complete listing of programs may be found on the Delaware Nature Society website under “schools” or by calling the office. Available programs at Abbott’s Mill include Insect Investigations, Pond Study, Soil Sleuths, Native Americans of Delmarva, and Weighing in the Mill. At Slaughter Beach: Seashore and Saltmarsh, Beach Ecology (spring focus on the Horseshoe Crab/migrating shorebirds). Most programs are 2 to 3 hours long. Abbott's Mill Nature Center is open year round. Programs are available upon request. Programming at Slaughter Beach is available April-October due to weather conditions.
Ages/Grade levels: Educational programs are available for Grades K-12. Specific programs are designed for PK-K, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12. A program may be adapted to encompass a broader age range. Exploring by Canoe is available for 12 years and older.
Cost: Visit website
Cape Henlopen State Park
15099 Cape Henlopen Drive
Lewes, DE 19958
Phone number: 302-645-8983
Days/Hours of operation: Park Hours: 8:00 am – Sunset, Fishing Pier Area open 24 hours. Nature Center Hours: 9-4, Open Wednesday-Sunday November – March and 9-5 daily, mid-June through Labor Day. Fort Miles Historic Area Orientation Building: 10-4, Saturdays, September-November and March-May 10-4, Tuesday – Saturday mid-June through Labor Day. Closed December – February.
Focus: Seaside Nature Center offers programs on our coastal ecosystem, including marine biology, dune and wetlands ecology, native plants and wildlife and bird walks. Seaside Nature enter offers exhibits on our coastal habitats, natibe reptiles, and five (5) 1000-gallon aquariums with native fishes.
Guided lesson/tours: Available. Groups should call ahead for guided tours and Nature Center and Fort Miles programs. Visit anytime during posted hours for general park entrance.
Programs: See websites below for list of scheduled programs
Ages/Grade levels: Seaside Nature Center program focus on grades K-8 and programs for ages 5 and up. Fort Miles Historic Area programs are primarily for students ages 10 and older.
Cost: Entrance fees into the park are $5 for DE vehicles and $10 for out of state vehicles. Fees for tours and programs vary from free up and are listed at the website links above.
Cape Water Tours & Taxi
107 Angler's Road
Lewes Delaware , 19958
Phone number: 302-644-7334
Days/Hours of operation: Seasonal, May through September and, if weather permits, through some of October. During the most active months, June, July, August, we operate 7 days a week, offering tours and cruises throughout the day. The tours and cruises vary depending on the day of the week. In the cooler months of May, September and October, we operate an abbreviated schedule, mostly on the weekends.
Tours: Cape Water Tours & Taxi offers several cruises and tours that are educational in nature including Eco Tours, Osprey Banding Tours in late June/early July (about 6 – 8 tours), Delaware Bay Discovery Cruise, Cape Henlopen Fort Miles Cruise and the Maritime History Cruise, and History Happened Here Cruise. These occur at least weekly throughout the summer. Experienced birders and naturalists guide our tours and provide “minds-on” and “hands-on” experiences.
Eco Tours (all ages): Find out where the Fiddler Crab got its name, if the Glossy Ibis is really glossy or where the term “crazy as a loon” came from. Experience the wonder of our inland waterways and wetlands and see a wide variety of birds and waterfowl such as Herons, Ospreys, Kingfishers, Forster’s Terns, Grebes, Black-Necked Stilts, and the great American Bald Eagle. If what is above the water doesn’t impress you, then check out what we catch from beneath the waves as we throw out our cast nets. You will learn about submerged aquatic vegetation – algae and sea grasses such as eelgrass and the benefit they provide as a breeding habitat for aquatic life. You will see crustaceans like Blue Crabs, Grass Shrimp and an occasional Horseshoe Crab. Our nets also catch fish like the Summer Flounder, Stripped Bass or Mullet. And, if you are lucky, you may see a Diamondback Terrapin, a brackish water turtle that spends most of their time in the waters of the coastal salt marshes.
Osprey banding tours (all ages): In the early summer, our Eco Tours will present a rare opportunity for our passengers. Captain Steve takes us to osprey nesting platforms where he will place identification tags on the osprey fledglings before they begin to fly. This practice does not hurt the birds and is done specifically to gather information about the birds such as migration patterns, life span and behaviors. These opportunities are few as the optimal time to band these magnificent birds is when they are 7-8 weeks old.
Delaware Bay Discovery Cruise (all ages): Join the crew of The Discovery and cruise the waters of the Delaware Bay to learn about this important coastal estuary. This two hour cruise will be led by experienced science educators who will sample the waters of the Bay with nets to reveal small animal plankton, bottom dwelling invertebrates and a variety of fish. This is a hands-on activity so come prepared to get your hands a little bit wet and slimy. This cruise will also take in the local historical sites such as the lighthouse at the Harbor of Refuge at Cape Henlopen. And, no trip is complete without an opportunity to look for diverse birdlife and water fowl along our shores. Don't miss out on this outstanding opportunity to see and learn about Delaware's pristine coastal waters and beaches and to learn about the work being done to preserve the delicate eco system within the Delaware Bay.
Cape Henlopen Fort Miles Cruise, Maritime History Cruise, History Happened Here Cruise: Ages 8 and up): Join a knowledgeable Lewes Historical guide on board the Cape Water Taxi for a cruise along the Lewes Canal (once Lewes Creek). Journey back in time into Lewes’s maritime past through the centuries. Learn of the explorers who first put Cape Henlopen on the map. Recall the pirates that sailed the same local waters you'll travel upon. Come to understand the difficulties in navigating the Cape's sometime treacherously shallow waters. View lighthouses that for generations have assisted in guiding ships, visitors, cargo and stories through the area. Learn about the important role of the Delaware Bay River Pilots Association and the brave United States Life-Saving Servicemen who rescued victims from perilous shipwrecks during the 19th and 20th centuries. (See website for various cruise descriptions.) We encourage visitors to bring cameras and binoculars if they have them.
Individuals/small groups suggest booking 2 – 48 hours in advance. Large groups please give seven day advance notice. Walk ups accepted if there is space available.Cost: See website
Delaware Seashore State Park & the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum
25039 Coastal Highway
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Phone number: 302-227-6991
Days/Hours of operation: April – October; 7 days/ 8 – 4:30 p.m.; November – March: Monday-Friday, 8 – 4 and Saturdays, 9-3
Tours: Guided tours available. We prefer that if a group wants to come to a program that they call ahead to set up their own private program (instead of joining a public program).
Programs: Focus mainly on maritime history and coastal ecology. Many programs for a variety of age groups/grade levels are available. See the Delaware State Parks Teacher’s Guide – Delaware Seashore State Park Pages. Programs include Beach Survivors (grades 2 – 4); Seining the Bay (grades 1 – 8); March Walk (grades 2 – 12); Squid Dissection: From Pen to Ink (grades 2 – 8); Jelly, Jelly, Jellyfish (grades K – 2); Coastal Predators (K – 3), Build & Fly a Kite (STEM) (grades 3 – 6); Shipwrecks & Buried Treasure (STEM) (grades 4 – 9); Life of a Surfman (grades 4 – 10); and others.
Cost: See website for fees (nominal).
DuPont Nature Center
2992 Lighthouse Road
Milford, DE 19963
Phone number: 302-422-1329
Days/Hours of operation: April 1 – August 31, Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, September 1 – September 30, Open Wednesday and Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, October 1 – March 31, Closed for the winter season, reopening April 1
Tours: Both self-directed and guided tours available. Please call ahead to schedule field trips or guided tours. Otherwise, visit anytime during posted hours.
Programs: The DuPont Nature Center serves as a science-based education and interpretive facility for schools, families, and other organized groups. It is designed to connect people with nature and will instill an appreciation for the ecological significance of the region. The center with its distinctive red roof, includes an observation deck with spotting scopes to view the harbor, bay and shoreline. More than 130 species of birds, fish, shellfish, and other animals populate the area. Inside the center visitors can view shorebirds and horseshoe crabs along the shoreline more than 100 yards away, courtesy of a remote camera and a 42-inch plasma viewing screen. The center is filled with exhibits devoted to the Delaware Bay’s natural history and ecology. Aquariums feature live horseshoe crabs, fish, shellfish, and terrapins.
Ages/Grade levels: All ages.
Materials: Brochures and handouts available at the center. Also, the website contains lots of info.
James Farm Ecological Preserve
30048 Cedar Neck Road
Ocean View, DE 19970
Sally Boswell, Education Outreach Coordinator
Phone number: 302-226-8105, ext. 103
Days/Hours of operation: Sunrise to Sunset every day.
Programs/Focus: We have developed activities for children Pre-school to 6th grade that are closely correlated with Delaware Science Content Standards and Performance Indicators…and they are fun! Click here to download activities for children Pre-school to 6th grade. There is also information on that page on Everything You Need To Know About Visiting James Farm Ecological Preserve With A School Group.
Guided lesson/tour: Available. Call for information. Self-directed tour available during posted hours.
Ages/Grade levels: All ages.
Cost: Self-guided field trips are free. Field trips involving staff are done on a case by case basis which would be discussed during calls for information.
34857 Lighthouse Rd
Selbyville, DE 19975
Phone number: 302-524-8109
Days/Hours of operation: Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm (Middle of May through End of October)
Tours: Guided tours preferred, please call 5 business days ahead to schedule visit to give proprietor the opportunity to plan a special time while maintaining the safety of students. Also, visit website and Facebook page for special events.
Programs: Programs cover the Importance of Buying Local to the Economy, the Nutritional Value of Locally Grown Produce, the Process from Seed to Harvest to Consumer, Preparation to Plant, How to Create a Successful Consumer Market, and Food Safety.
Ages/Grade levels: Tours & education can adapt to meet the needs of any grade level.
Materials: Can provide handouts in advance with 5 business days’ notice.
Cost: Call or email for information.
Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
11978 Turkle Pond Road
Milton, DE 19968
Phone number: 302-684-8419
Days/Hours of operation: The Refuge is open every day from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset in designated areas. The Visitor Center is open daily year round from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Check our website for any seasonal closures.
Tours: Self guided.
Focus: Fish, Wildlife, Habitat Management, Wetlands. Exhibits in Visitor Center (year-round). Nature Photography Exhibition (Fall); Horseshoe Crab-Shorebird Festival (May.)
Ages/Grade levels: All ages and grade levels
Materials: Fact sheets and brochures on fish and wildlife, trail brochures, refuge maps. Will mail materials with three weeks notice.
Cost: See website.
TaCaCo Alpacas of Delaware
28494 Fire Tower Road
Laurel, DE 19956
Phone number: 302-236-7950 or 443-477-2220
Days/Hours of operation: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and by appointment.
Guided tours: Available, groups please call ahead to reserve time, otherwise visit during posted hours. Host field trips and individual and group tours.
Interaction with and education about alpacas. We have a gift shop featuring quality alpaca clothing and accessories, alpaca yarns, organic soaps/body lotions/body wash.
Trap Pond State Park
33587 Baldcypress Lane
Laurel, DE 19956
Phone number: (302) 875-5163
Days/Hours of operation: Park Open Year Round for visitation and camping. Nature Center Open 10am-4pm every day April-September. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays October-March
Tours: Guided tours and self-directed tours available. Tours include pontoon boat tours (April – Sept), Saturday morning bird walks (April – Sept), Freshwater Seining, etc. See program guide at website for current schedule. Many programs require pre-registration.
Focus: Watershed education and the Chesapeake Bay. Topics are wide with programs on Cultural History, Geography, Science, and Natural History/Environment. Most programs last 45 minutes to 1 hour, some require a small fee. Programs cover Pre-K to adult. Programs include Aquatic Mammals (ages 5 – 12, K-ESS2-2, ESS3-1, LS1-1); Fantastic Frogs (ages 4 – 10, K-LS1-1); Ticklish Turtles (ages 4 – 10, K-LS1-1); Insects-Beetles-Butterflies (ages 6 – 10, K-LS1-1); Tracks and Traces (adaptable to all age groups and mixed age groups, 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3); Owl Prowl (mixed age groups, 20LS4-1, 3-LS4-3); and many others. See website for details and schedule. Please contact the park naturalist at (302) 875-5163. Many of our programs can be adapted to homeschool groups. The Park Naturalist can also make recommendations on camping, cabins and overnight experiences.
Materials: Maps, Brochures, Pre-Made Scavenger Hunts, Parks Pursuit forms, and Trail challenge forms. All materials can be mailed up on request.
Cost: See website.
T.S. Smith and Sons, Inc.
8887 Redden Rd
Bridgeville, De 19933
Phone number: 302-337-8271 or 302-858-7407
Days/Hours of operation: Open April thru December 24th. The store is open 7 days a week from 8am to 5 pm Monday thru Saturday, and 8 am to 5pm on Sunday.
Tours: Guided lesson/tour available. Wagon tours of the farm can be scheduled. The cost is $100.00 for a 1 hour interactive experience. Groups of up to 30 people can be seated on the wagon. If available, a pavilion with picnic tables can be used to stage tours for larger groups. Our packing house was built in 1928 and is still in use. Apples are still washed and graded August thru December. Reservations must be made to tour the facility. The cost is $2.50 per person and would include an apple. For any tour, call ahead to reserve time.
Programs: T.S. Smith & Sons is a working farm. You will see and learn how your fruits and vegetables are grown. May - learn about asparagus and strawberries. Pick your own strawberries are available. July/August - peaches, nectarines cantaloupes and sweet corn are in season. Learn about their production and pick a tree ripened peach. You-pick peaches and nectarines are available. August – October: Apples are in season. Gala and Honey crisp are ready in August followed by Jonagold, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Black Twig and Stayman. Pick your own is available. Note: April – The average bloom date for peaches is April 5th to the 15th and apples April 15 to 25th. This is the time to take beautiful pictures of the orchards in bloom.
Ages/Grade levels: The guides will tailor their talk to the age/grade level of the guests.
Materials: A brochure providing brief history of the farm, events and fruits and vegetables produced is available.
University of Delaware Hugh R. Sharp Campus
700 Pilottown Road
Lewes, DE 19958
Phone number: 302-645-4234
Days/Hours of operation:
Public tours available on Fridays in June at 10:00 AM; MWF in July and August at 10:00AM. Reservations required. Individualized field trips/tours for school/homeschool groups are available year-round, as schedules allow. Please contact Christopher Petrone for more information. Delaware Coast Day – Always the first Sunday in October, 11:00am-4:00pm. www.decoastday.org
Tours: Guided tours are available. Please call ahead to reserve time.
Focus: Marine and coastal science and research, oceanography (biological, chemical, physical, and geological), underwater robotics, remote sensing (data from satellites and other sources), wind energy. Programs include Global Visualization Lab, deep sea/hydrothermal vents, wind energy.
Ages/Grade levels: Fifth grade (10 years old) and up
Materials: Several classroom-ready activities are available on the Delaware Sea Grant website. Will provide materials upon request with two months’ notice for an individualized program. The general campus tour does not have materials in-advance, but does require registration.
Cost: General tour is free of charge. Individualized school group programs typically have a nominal supplies fee (less than $5 per person).
Don't forget to check out our History and Arts Field Trip destinations, too!