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Science & Nature Field Trips

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
Milford, DE
Phone number: (302) 422-0847
Website
Facebook           
Email:Matt@delnature.org

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: 302-645-6852
Website    https://destateparks.com/Beaches/CapeHenlopen
Email        Richard.Julian@delaware.gov

Days/Hours of operation:  Park Hours: 8:00 am – Sunset, Fishing Pier Area open 24 hours. 

Nature Center Hours: Contact Nature Center at 302-645-6852 for hours. 

Fort Miles Historic Museum and Historic Area: Contact Fort Miles at 302-644-5005 for Museum hours and visit the History Field Trips site for more information: https://visitsoutherndelaware.com/history-field-trips

Focus: Seaside Nature Center offers visitors opportunities to explore exhibits on our coastal habitats, see native reptiles, and view native fishes in five (5) 1000-gallon aquariums. In addition, interpretive staff offers programs to both school/groups and the public on our coastal ecosystem, including marine biology, dune and wetlands ecology, native plants and wildlife and bird walks.

School/Group Programs: Available. Grades K -12, topics vary by grade . Contact the Nature Center to arrange field trips or outrage programs that compliment classroom studies and meet state standards. For more information on grade appropriate programs visit the following link:

https://destateparks.com/SchoolGroups

Public/Family Programs: The Nature Center offers a variety of interpretive programs for individuals and families, focusing on the park’s natural and cultural resources. Ages vary by program. Programs change seasonal, please visit the following website below for list of scheduled programs:

https://destateparks.com/Programs

 School/Group programs

Public/Family Programs

Ages/Grade levels:  Seaside Nature Center school/group program focus on grades K-12.  Public interpretive programs vary  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. There is no additional fee to visit the Nature Center. Program fees vary from free up and are listed at the website links above. 

Cape Water Tours & Taxi

107 Angler's Road
Lewes Delaware , 19958
(Fisherman’s Wharf)
Phone number: 302-644-7334
Website
Facebook
Emailwww.capewatertaxi.com/contact-us.html

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.

Reservations: 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.
CostSee website

Delaware Seashore State Park & the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum

25039 Coastal Highway
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Phone number: 302-227-6991

Website: https://www.destateparks.com/SchoolGroups

EmailLaura.Scharle@delaware.gov

Facebook (IRLSS)

Facebook (DSSP)

Days/Hours of operation: April – October; 7 days/ 8 – 4:30 p.m.; November – March: call for hours

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 School Program Listings on the Delaware State Parks website. Programs include Seining the Bay (grades 1 – 8); Marsh Walk (grades 2 – 12); Squid Dissection: From Pen to Ink (grades 2 – 8); Life of a Surfman (grades 4 – 10); Archeology at the Beach (grades 3-8) and others.

Cost: See website for fees (nominal).

DuPont Nature Center

2992 Lighthouse Road
Milford, DE 19963
Phone number: 302-422-1329
Website
Emaillynn.pusey@state.de.us

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
Emailoutreach@inlandbays.org

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. 

Magee Farms

34857 Lighthouse Rd
Selbyville, DE 19975
Phone number: 302-524-8109
Website
Emailmageefarms@comcast.net

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.

Suggested reading:  Video about Magee FarmsMagee Farms website

Cost: Call or email for information.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

11978 Turkle Pond Road
Milton, DE 19968
Phone number: 302-684-8419
Website

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.

Trap Pond State Park

33587 Baldcypress Lane
Laurel, DE 19956
Phone number: (302) 875-5163
Website
EmailWilliam.Koth@state.de.us

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
Website
Emailtssmithandsons@verizon.net

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 
Website 1
Website 2
Emaildorey@udel.edu

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).

The Great STEMporium

18388 Coastal Highway
 Lewes, DE 19958
 (302) 313-5139

Website: www.GreatSTEM.com

Days/Hours of operation:  M-F, 8am-2pm (for field trip groups)

Guided Lessons Only

Visitors should call ahead to reserve time. We only accept groups that make a reservation in advance.  Reservations should be made as far in advance as possible.  Note: Dates in the spring tend to book up by February. No walk-in groups.

We only accept one field trip group per day (up to 80 students per group).  Arrival and departure times are based on the needs and convenience of each group.  Camp groups looking for summer field trips should call for details since days, times, and space are limited during summer months.

Subjects: We cover multiple Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) topics for grades K-6 at our indoor facility for 20 to 80 kids per session.  Topics include, but are not limited to: motion and stability, light and sound waves, earth’s systems, data collection and probability, forces and interactions, energy, engineering design, cyber security, math, current and historic inventors, and more.  

Kindergarten

  • Pushes and Pulls [NGSS: K-PS2-1, K-PS2-2] 
    • Hands-on Activities: fuzzy ball race, water drop race, push the stone challenge, popsicle catapult 

1st Grade

  • Light & Sound Waves [NGSS: 1-PS4-1, 1-PS4-2]
    • Hands-on Activities: Mirror reflections and water refractions, dancing rice, sound wave strings (paper cup telephones)

2nd Grade

  • Earth’s Systems - Plate Tectonics [NGSS: 2-ESS2-1]
    • Hands-on Activities: Earthquake challenge, Fold Mountains

K-2nd Grade

  • Data Collection & Probability [NGSS: K-PS2-2, 1-LS3-1, 2-PSI-4]
    • Hands-on Activities: Falling stars, Butter-side up bread drop 

3rd Grade

  • Forces & Interactions – Inertia [NGSS: 4-PS2-1]
    • Hands-on Activity (Option A): Mass (blocks vs cups) VS Inertia, ice skater center of gravity
    • Hands-on Activity (Option B): Boom Trix Trampoline Physics
    • Hands-on Activity (Option C): Zipline carrier creation challenge 
    • Hands-on Activity (Option D): Gravitrax marble run – simple gravity experience

4th Grade

  • Option A: Energy [NGSS: 4-PS3-1]
    • Hands-on Activity (Option A): Zipline carrier creation challenge with variable cargo adaptations 
    • Hands-on Activity (Option B): Astronaut landing
    • Hands-on Activity (Option C): Gravitrax marble run – kinetic energy part 1 
  • Data Collection & Analysis: Cybercrime detective challenge – finite ending results

5th Grade

  • Motion and Stability: Forces & Interactions [NGSS: 5-PS2-1]
    • Hands-on Activity (Option A): Zipline carrier creation challenge with cargo adaptations & variable gravity effects
    • Hands-on Activity (Option B): Astronaut landing with materials restrictions and cargo adaptations
    • Hands-on Activity (Option C): Gravitrax marble run – kinetic energy part 2
  • Data Collection & Analysis: Cybercrime detective challenge – open ended results

6th Grade

  • Engineering Design [NGSS: MS-EST1]
    • Hands-on Activity: Ikea furniture design challenge
  • Motion and Stability: Forces & Interactions [NGSS:  MS-PS2]
    • Hands-on Activity: Van de Graff experiments, sail cars with materials variable

Our “warm up” programs, which usually preceed the NGSS-focused programs listed above, include:

  • Famous inventor dinner party seating chart challenge
  • Scientific instrument scavenger hunt
  • Tenzi challenge: a fast-paced math game
  • Minute-to-Win-it team challenges (e.g. marshmallow inertia, pendulum bowling, cranium cookie tower)

Small group programs (10 to 20 kids per session) include:

  • Simulated frog dissection
  • Coding and robotics
  • Reverse engineering challenges

Materials and equipment vary by program topic

Questions? Email  Info@greatstem.com

Don't forget to check out our History and Arts Field Trip destinations, too!