Field Trips

Thank you for thinking of the U.S. Botanic Garden as an extension of your classroom. Whether through the lens of science, art, storytelling, or curiosity, our living classrooms offer amazing opportunities for plant-based learning. There is no cost associated with our field trips or field trip resources. We look forward to your visit!

We offer a number of field trip opportunities:

A gardener talks about a carnivorous pitcher plant

Virtual Field Trip

  • Live, Instructor-Led
  • Number of Students: 15-25

This immersive, interactive 45-minute virtual field trip takes students behind the scenes for a close up look at our plant collection, to learn from our plant specialists who study and care for these plants, and consider the science of how plants work. This virtual field trip is offered on Tuesdays and Fridays. Time is selected by teacher at time of registration.

Grades 3, 4 and 5

  • Think Like a Botanist: Students are challenged to think about how plants adapt to different environmental factors, identify adaptive traits, and ask how these traits help these plants survive.

Please book your virtual field trip here (link coming soon).


Children explore the plants and pond of the Regional Garden

Self-Guided Exploration

You are welcome to bring your students to the Garden during opening times (10:00am - 5:00pm daily) for self- exploration. Note: these visits are teacher/chaperone directed. Please book your field trip here (link coming soon). We have a number of resources available to support your visit. These field trip resources may be found here. We ask that if joining us for self-exploration, you print these in advance of arriving at the Garden. These resources contain valuable content for pre and post lessons, and serve as instructive guides for students once on site.

If you have a large group of students (75 or more), we encourage you to consider breaking up in to smaller groups and visiting at different times, or visiting on different dates which perhaps will allow you to take advantage of our instructor led opportunities (see below).


children using microscopes

Instructor-Led Hands-On Lesson

  • Number of Students: 15-40

These field trips are scheduled for 90 minutes. This allows students time to participate in a 30 - 45 minute instructor led hands-on lesson, and time to explore our Gardens. Note: the exploration of the Gardens is led by your teachers/chaperones. We have a number of field trip resources to support this self-exploration and these will be provided once you are on site. Click here to preview field trip resources.

Lessons are aligned to local and NGSS science standards, and offered by grade level. As we are a living plant museum, the activities supporting our lessons may vary by season. NOTE: Teachers select the lesson during the registration process. These lessons are offered on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Lesson Descriptions (lessons selected during registration process)

Pre-K - 2

  • Seed to Seedling: Students will learn the parts and purpose of a seed, and explore the needs and life cycle of a seed.
  • Plants and Pollinators: Students will learn the parts of a flower, how all its parts perform a function related to reproduction, and that pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.) unintentionally move pollen amongst flowers and facilitate plant reproduction.
  • Plants and Me: Using a plant from our living collection, students will learn how and where the plant grows, the part of the plant humans use, and the process from plant to product.

Grades 3 - 5

  • Understanding the Process of Pollination: Students will learn the connection between seeds, flowers, and fruits, the function of seed and flower parts within a plant's life cycle, and that pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.) unintentionally move pollen from flower to flower.
  • Biomes: Students will learn about plants in two very different environments and construct a model to explain how plants have adapted to live in these different biomes.
  • Plant Adaptations: Students will learn about specialized adaptations and how each adaptation helps that plant survive. Students will then focus on one adaptation and through the construction of a model, be able to explain the adaptation and its function.

Grades 5-6

  • Photosynthesis: Students will learn the things plants need to conduct photosynthesize, the process by which they do this, and use scientific tools to understand the inputs and outputs of photosynthesis.
  • Plants and Ecosystem Services: Students will learn about the complex relationships in ecosystems, and the value plants play in establishing and maintaining these systems.
  • Plant Reproduction - Students will learn that not all plants grow from seeds. Students will examine early land plants and microscopically examine spores and explore plant reproductive strategies through time.

Middle and High School

  • Plant Classification - Students will learn the importance of plant classification, practice classifying plants, and explain their reasoning. Students will learn how to read a plant label and use these skills to recognize plant families, genus, and species in the Garden's collection.
  • Plant Conservation - Students will learn about the importance of botanic gardens and their role in plant conservation. Students might explore our outdoor gardens and focus on native plants in the Mid-Atlantic region or explore some of our rare and endangered plants in our Conservatory.

Register:

  • Click here (link coming soon) to register for an instructor-led lesson.
  • Maximum students: 40
  • If you are a group larger than 40 and interested in a hands-on lesson, please consider dividing your classes and booking on multiple days.
  • These lessons are offered on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.


kids learn about chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) at a discovery station

Discovery Station

  • Instructor Facilitated
  • Number of Students: 40-60

These field trips are scheduled for 90 minutes to allow all students time to rotate through the Discovery Station. Upon arrival, an instructor will welcome the group and provide a brief history and overview of the Garden. Students signed up for this field trip will be provided with a field trip resource to enrich their exploration. These field trip resources may be found here. Please note that the exploration of the Gardens is teacher/chaperone led.

NOTE: Content covered at the Discovery Station is aligned to local and NGSS science standards. Instruction is determined by grade of students. Teachers will choose the Discovery Station topic for their fieldtrip during the registration process.

Discovery Station Descriptions

  • Plants and People Discovery Station: Students will explore a variety of plants to learn the source of many products in our daily lives.
  • Photosynthesis Discovery Station: Students will use scientific tools to better understand how plants make their own food.
  • Vanilla Discovery Station: Students will learn that Vanilla comes from the Orchidaceae family and the process from flower to bean.
  • Plant Reproduction Discovery Station: Students will explore early land plants and the different reproductive plant strategies over time.
  • Chocolate Discovery Station: Students will learn about the plant Theobroma cacao, the source of chocolate, and the process from flower to chocolate bar.

Register: Click here (link coming soon) to register for a Discovery Station.

  • Maximum students: 60
  • If you are a group larger than 60 and interested in a Discovery Station, please consider dividing your classes and booking on multiple days.