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:
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.
Our gardens are living laboratories for the study of plants. Our three-acre gated outdoor gardens draw inspiration from the environments of the Mid-Atlantic region. Major features are native plants, a rose garden, a pollinator garden, the First Ladies Water Garden, a lawn terrace, and an outdoor amphitheater which provides a spectacular view of our Conservatory.
Just across Independence Avenue is a favorite "secret" garden, Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens. Ten rain gardens capture 100 percent of rainfall on the site and allow it to soak into the ground, diverting runoff from D.C.'s combined sewer system. The gardens showcase plants native to the Mid-Atlantic region and a collection of edible plants in permanent and seasonal plantings in a new Kitchen Garden.
From wet tropics to deserts, our Conservatory highlights plants worldwide. Seasonal displays and rotating exhibits showcase horticultural excellence, culturally important plants, agriculture, botanical art, conservation, and plant science.
Resources are available to support your exploration of our gardens. We ask that you download the resources in advance of your vist. These resources contain valuable content for pre and post lessons, and serve as instructive guides for students once on site.
These on-site field trips are scheduled for 90 minutes. This allows students time to participate in an instructor-led lesson, and time for self-guided exploration of our gardens. Please note that the self-guided exploration part of your field trip is led by you - your teachers/chaperones.
Lesson Descriptions (lessons selected during registration process)
Pre-K - K: Seed to Seedling
- Students explore seed germination, and what seedlings need to survive. These field trips are scheduled for 90 minutes. This allows students time to participate in an instructor-led lesson, and time for self-guided exploration of our gardens. Please note that the self-guided exploration is led by you - your teachers/chaperones.
- K-LS1-1: Plants need water and light to live and grow.
Grades 1 - 2: Plants and Pollinators
- Students use dissection to understand the reason for a flower. They then use a model to explore the relationship between plants and pollinators.
- 1-LS1-1: Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
- 2-LS2-2: Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
Grades 3 - 5: Plant Adaptations
- Students explore how plants have adapted to survive the challenges in their environments.
- 3-LS3-2: Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
- 4-LS1-1: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
- 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
Grades 6 - 8: Photosynthesis
- Students use microscopes and refractometers to understand how plants make their own food.
- MS-LS1-6: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
Grades 9 - 12: Conservation Investigation
- Students use scientific tools to conduct an investigation of plant-based textiles. After learning about the resources required for the production of each, students make an argument for their relative sustainability.
- HS-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity: The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.
- Live, Instructor-Led
- Number of Students: 10-50
These immersive, interactive 45-minute virtual field trips take 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 Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Time is selected by teacher at time of registration. To learn more, please review our Virtual Field Trip Technology Guide.
Grade 3 Virtual Field Trip - Plant Adaptations
- Students investigate the connection between the environmental challenges plants face and their adaptive traits. In their investigation, students focus on constructing explanations for why plants have certain traits given the conditions of their growing environment. Why do bog-dwelling carnivorous plants trap insects? Let's figure it out together!
- NGSS: 3-LS3-2: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits: Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Grade 4 Virtual Field Trip - Plant Form and Function
- Students explore plant form and function, and construct arguments for how external structures help plants survive challenges in different environments. How do the holes in the leaves of the swiss cheese plant help it survive in the rainforest? Let's figure it out together!
- NGSS: 4-LS1-1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Grade 5 Virtual Field Trip - Plant Survival in Challenging Environments
- Students investigate how plants obtain necessary matter and energy in different challenging environments. If cactus leaves are spines, where does photosynthesis take place in most cacti? Let's figure it out together!
- NGSS: 5-LS2-1: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.