CLASSES PREK-12 (In-Museum)

cow eyeball dissection

Call us at (540) 342-5721 or email

Extend your students’ learning experience with an In-Museum Class!

Each class encourages students to investigate their world using the Scientific Method and the Process of Experimentation. Classes encourage students to develop their powers of observation as they test hypotheses, learn to collect data, and work together as a team. Due to our extensive summer camp program, classes are not available during June, July and August.

Classes are listed in order by grades for Elementary, Middle and High School levels and cover a wide range of physical and life science topics.  A brief description and grade related SOLs are provided for each class.

IMPORTANT: Please tell us if you have special needs!

Museum Exhibits
$7.00 per youth (6-17) or $3.00 per child (2-5) + $3.50 butterfly garden
In-Museum Class
$5.00 per youth or child, $3 planetarium show

Elementary School

Animal Sense

Grades PK-1: Students discover extraordinary animal senses through a discussion about the ways some animal ambassadors experience the world.  The focus is on animal senses and how they compare to the 5 human senses. SOLs: Virginia Science Foundation Blocks for Early Learning:  Block 1- Scientific investigation, logic and reasoning, K.2, K.4, 1.1

The Five Senses

Grades PreK-1: Students explore and learn about the five senses by experiencing the sensations of sight, hearing, smell, and touch through hands on activities. (Taste is discussed but not tested to avoid the risk of possible sensitivities or allergic reactions.) SOLs: K.1, K.2, K.4, 1.1

Science Toys

Grades PreK-1: Students “experiment” with toys to observe and explore the science of what makes them work. –A fun introduction to forces, motion, and energy. SOLs: K.1, K.3, K.4, 1.1, 1.2

Animal Needs

Grades PK-2: Students discuss the things animals need to survive whether they live at a museum, in a house, or in the wild. Get up close and personal with some of the museums living collection and examine their habitats. Find out how their needs are being met. SOLs: Virginia Science Foundation Blocks for Early Learning:  4- Life Processes, K.7, 1.5. 2.5

Dig It!

Grades 1-5: Become a paleontology detective! Explore the lives of prehistoric creatures and their habitats by studying both real and replica fossil clues, learning how they were formed and how scientists interpret them. Discover how the earth’s surface, climate and different life forms have changed or disappeared over time. Have fun digging for fossils and trying to identify them! SOLs: 1.5, 1.7, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, 5.7


Grades 1-4: Animals live in a wide variety of habitats. In each of these unique locations animals are able to meet all of their needs. Meet animals from a wide array of different habitats and discuss what those habitats look like.  Join an educator in examining some similar animals up close and determining the habitats in which they live! SOLs: 1.5, 1.7, 2.5, 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, 4.5

Food Chains

Grades 3-4: Explore some of the food chains and webs which include museum animals; both in the museum and in the wild. Students examine food chains and meet all of the components of one food chain. SOLs:  3.5, 4.5

Physical Properties and Physical Changes of Matter

Grades 2-3: Students observe and compare mass, volume, and other physical properties of different examples of matter through simple experiments and investigate what causes matter to change states (phases). SOLs: 2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 3.3, 3.9


Grades 2-5: Explore both the dangers and ecological importance of natural wildfires. Learn about the fire triangle, fire safety both in and outside the home, and how animals and especially plants survive and sometimes even depend on periodic wildfire in their communities through various natural adaptations. Older students may conduct experiments and interact with computer simulations to investigate the effects of different weather and related environmental conditions on fire behavior. SOLs: K.9, 1.7, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 3.6, 3.10, 4.5, 4.8

Super Ball Science

Grades 3-5: Students will use the scientific method, make a hypothesis, and determine controls and variables as they design and create their own “homemade” bouncy balls. They will then work together to design an experiment to test their bouncy balls against some store bought super balls. SOLs 3.1, 4.1, 5.1


Grades 3-5: Have you ever wondered how animals can survive in such diverse habitats? Visit with our living collection and learn more about the amazing adaptations that our animals survive in the wild. SOLs:  3.4, 4.5, 5.5

Amazing Light

Grade 5: Students use various lenses, mirrors, CDS, lasers, spectroscopes, and other materials to investigate and observe the amazing properties of light energy and how reflection, refraction, and diffraction can change how we see things. Students also learn how visible light is related to other forms of electromagnetic energy and have fun experimenting with “black light” and fluorescence. SOLs: 5.3, 5.4

Middle and High School

Food Chain

Life Science: Explore food chains and food webs which include museum animals; both in the museum and in the wild. Students examine food chains and meet all of the components of one food chain. SOLs: LS. 6


Life Science: Have you ever wondered how animals can survive in such diverse habitats? Explore in-depth the adaptations of our museum’s living collections and examine just how these adaptations promote survival. SOLs: LS. 9, LS. 13, BIO 7


Life Science: Animals, reptiles in particular, can be found in an incredible variety of colors. How does this happen? Meet some reptiles and learn about some of the controlling factors behind the many different colored variations you can find in the wild and in pet stores. SOLs: LS. 12, BIO 5

Wet all over: Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems

Grade 6 and Life Science: Water is incredibly important to all living things-so much so that entire ecosystems can revolve around the water in an area. Join us in examining an aquatic ecosystem and determining just how important a watershed is. Observe a model ecosystem and conduct an experiment exploring human impact. SOLs: 6.7, LS. 9, LS. 11

Eye to Eye *additional cost applies*

Grade 7: This class takes a first-hand look at the incredible sensory organ, the eye, and its complex connection with the brain, which provides us with the ability to see. Students dissect a cow eye and examine and compare its structure and function to that of the human eye. SOLs: LS.3

Discover DNA

Grade 7: Investigate the science of genetics in this class. Students learn about the structure and function of DNA and extract it from a strawberry. They also explore and compare genetic traits which make each of us unique. SOLs: LS.2, LS.13, LS.14

Natural Selection and Adaptations

Animals and plants do some amazing things, things that they did not do when they first appeared in the fossil record. Some of these amazing feats help the animals and plants to be better hunters, hide or to otherwise survive. But how did these things come to be? Explore animal adaptations and how natural selection shaped these populations overtime. (This lesson can include either a butterfly garden tour or a touch tank experience. Butterfly admission required.) Life Science and Biology: SOLs: LS. 13, BIO. 7

Classify This!

Become a taxonomist and explore the different groupings which exist among living things.  Observe examples of many of the major animal phyla and identify their distinguishing features. Put your skills to the test and classify some challenging animals! Life Science and Biology: SOLs: LS. 4, BIO. 4

All Keyed Up: Dichotomous Keys in Action

What are dichotomous keys and why do we use them? Answer this question and many more by constructing some dichotomous keys and then putting your skills to the test in our butterfly garden by surveying the butterfly population. Biology: SOLs: BIO. 6 (note: this does coincide with the old LS 5)

“All Ages” Programs

Outreach and In-Museum Astronomy Programs are now available during school operating hours and for after-school care programs.  Maximum class size:  30 students per presentation with Outreach; 22 students per presentation with In-Museum visit. Each program uses modern computer graphics and imagery to explore astronomy topics in a format designed for both children and adults.  The programs are adaptable for audiences from Kindergarten through adult.  Maximum:  30 individuals.

Journey Through the Stars

In this new planetarium show, a Science Museum educator will teach the basics of astronomy – what we know about stars, and what stories our ancestors told about them.  We will also cover star hopping, which lets you start with a known star or constellation and from there find, or hop, to another star or constellation.  Students will come away with knowledge of current stellar events and what constellations and planets will be viewable in the night sky.

Planetary Journey:  A Tour of the Solar System

Students will travel through the solar system with a stop at each of the planets (and a moon or two) to investigate what the conditions are like on each body.  We will examine the prospects for finding life on each body and the characteristics that make each planet unique.  This program includes content related to the following Virginia Science SOL’s:  K.6, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 2.5, 3.8, 3.9, 4.6, 4.7; ES, 4 a,b; ES 4 c,d

Sky Stories:  Astronomy and Mythology of the Constellations

Using the myths that form the basis for each of the major constellations and the astronomical processes that create them, students will explore the role that constellations played in helping people understand and adapt to a pre-scientific world.  This program has not yet been SOL correlated.

Earth and the Moon:  Past, Present, and Future

From the birth of the Solar System to the death of our Sun, students will see how our solar system evolves.  Particular emphasis is placed on the astronomical and geological processes that shape the Earth and its environment.  This program includes content related to the following Virginia Science SOLs:3.8, 4.7, 5.7, 6.3, 6.6, & 6.8, as well as ES. 8 b,c; ES. 10 b,c; ES. 12 a,b,c; ES. 12 d,e; and ES. 14 a,b,c

Exploring Mars

Early Astronomers and modern space scientists have focused their interest on Mars.  Using telescopes and space probes, we now have a remarkable picture of the Red Planet.  Students will examine Mars close-up and, perhaps, glimpse its role in our future. This program has not yet been SOL correlated.