Adkins Arboretum Environmental Education Programs Aligned with Next Generation Science Standards

Program fees for a four-hour program range from $8 to $15 per student. Teachers and chaperones are free. For more information or to schedule an environmental education program, contact Youth Program Coordinator Leslie Adelman at ladelman​​ or 410-634-2847. Don’t see a program that meets your needs? Programs can be specially designed upon request.


  • Wiggly Worms

    Children will explore the wiggly world of worms and learn how worms help plants grow. Activities will include a visit to the Funshine Garden, a scavenger hunt, digging for worms, and a wiggly worm song. Students will help plant seeds and make a craft to take home. This program is aligned with MSDE science standard LS3A1a–d.

  • Home for a Bunny

    In this exciting outdoor program, students will create models and conduct hands-on investigations to explore the relationship between the needs of different plants and animals and their habitats. Activities include using dip nets in the Arboretum's wetland for an up-close look at wetland food chains, digging for worms in the Play Garden, scoping out rabbit burrows in the meadow, and hunting for squirrels and acorns along shady woodland paths (NGSS K-ESS3-1).

  • Growing Up Green

    Students will compare and contrast the unique and diverse life cycles of four plants and animals through hands-on investigation. Activities include using dip nets and buckets in the Arboretum’s wetland to see what frogs look like at each stage of the life cycle, searching for caterpillars and eggs in the butterfly garden, and exploring the Arboretum’s woodlands in a tree life cycle scavenger hunt. In culmination, students will create models to describe the similarities and differences among plant and animal life cycles (NGSS 3-LS1-1).


  • Trees and Me

    Students will investigate how the parts of a tree work together in a "build a tree" activity, explore how humans have benefited from trees over time, use magnifying glasses to examine and categorize leaves, and investigate the impact of daylight on plant growth and development. As part of the learning experience, they'll also use tree materials to design a solution to a human problem (NGSS 1-LS1-1).

  • Birds, Bees, and Dandelion Seeds

    How do plants and animals interact to create thriving, diverse habitats? Students will use science skills to match pollinators with their plants, explore the four methods of seed dispersal in the classroom and outside, and observe plants and animals in the Arboretum’s wetland and forest habitats. They’ll also use their imaginations to create models of animal pollinators (NGSS 2-LS2-2., 2-LS4-1).

  • Water, Water, Everywhere

    Students will investigate the limited amount of water available for human use and explore the complex factors affecting the water cycle through an environmental game. After making hypotheses about the health of the water in the Arboretum’s wetland, students will conduct water sampling and analyze the data they collect. They’ll also create model watersheds to examine human impact on the Chesapeake Bay and learn how the Arboretum uses native plants to protect waterways (NGSS 5-ESS2-2-2, NGSS 5-ESS3-1).

  • STEM-Tastic

    Students will develop skills in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering through four nature-based learning stations. In Biomimicry, they’ll learn how engineers use nature for design inspiration and build a glider based on bird wing observations. After reviewing the causes and effects of acid rain in the What’s in the Water station, they’ll review the causes and effects of acid rain and conduct chemical sampling of the Arboretum’s wetland to determine pH. In Farflung, they’ll explore the engineering principles that allow for seed dispersal and conduct field sampling to explore patterns in nature. In Dendroclimatology, students will explore the relationship between tree rings and climate change (STEM Standards of Practice 1–5.)

  • Native Plants, Native People

    In this hands-on interdisciplinary program, students will explore the interrelationship between nature and the Native American tribes of Maryland. Activities include exploring Three Sisters Companion gardening and participating in a green corn dance at the Funshine Garden, peeking inside model wigwams at First Light Village, examining actual Native American artifacts, and foraging for edible wildlife along scenic woodland paths (MSDE Social Studies Standards 2Ac, d, 5A2a; NGSS LS2C, ESS3C; Common Core Language Arts Standards RI1, RI3; MSDE Visual Arts Standards 2.0).

  • Nature’s Story in the Underground Railroad

    In this inspiring, hands-on program, students will explore the role of nature in the Underground Railroad. They’ll attempt to forage for wild edibles in the forest and stream, discuss quotes from actual fugitives, and gain firsthand insight into how fire was both necessary and dangerous. Students will also learn how escaping slaves navigated by the stars and will observe moss growth to determine direction. They’ll use natural camouflage to conceal a “runaway,” discuss the benefits and risks of waterways to an escaping slave, and examine primary source pictures and documents from slavery times (MSDE Standards for Social Studies 5C4a–c; 6D1c; Science 1A1b, f; 2D1a, b; 6B1a; Language Arts 1E1a; 2.1a ;Visual Arts 3.1a–c; 2.1a; Theatre Arts 3.2a; Music 2.1a; 2.2a–c).


  • Two Degrees

    What factors have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century? How will future climate change impact Maryland’s Eastern Shore? What is the role of trees in reducing global warming? In this hands-on exploration of climate change, students will act out the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere. They’ll create models to illustrate the greenhouse effect, collect information to determine their own carbon footprint, and study tree rings to make predictions about climate change (NGSS HSESS2-6, HS-ESS3-5).

  • Applied Forestry for Environmental Science Students

    Students will explore the ecosystem services provided by trees, including nutrient cycling, carbon storage, clean water, temperature regulation, and oxygen. After a native plant walk led by a docent naturalist, they’ll monitor forest health by setting up a .1 acre study plot in the Arboretum’s forest. Students will work in groups to assess the plot for diversity, tree and crown condition, lichen abundance, regeneration, wildlife, and soil quality. Data will be entered into an Arboretum database (MSDE Science Standards Goal 1: Skills and Processes, Indicator 1.3.1 and Goal 6: Environmental Science, Indicators 6.1.1, 6.2.2, and 6.3.4).


  • Take It Outside!

    Maryland’s environmental literacy standards stipulate that students have meaningful outdoor experiences during each school year. How can teachers use their schoolyards to enhance and reinforce curriculum? Adkins Arboretum educators will lead elementary and middle school teachers through a variety of hands-on outdoor education activities that can be used across disciplines and grade levels. Activities are designed to complement Maryland State Curriculum with an emphasis on STEM and Next Generation Science Standards.