Get the most out of your school visit by including an inquiry-based science workshop led by a member of the Museum's professional education staff.

Workshops are 45-60 minutes in length and include topics in physical science, engineering, life sciences, and earth science. 

VisitPlus Workshops

Physical Science:

Girls working with potato batteryMixing Colors
Focusing on primary and secondary colors students will be engaged in hands-on activities as they explore art and science through the colors around them. Pre-K-Grade 2

Exploring Air: Parachutes and More
Students will build and experiment with small parachutes and other paper crafts in order to discover the properties of air. Grades K-2

Mirrors, Reflection, and Symmetry
This workshop introduces principles of light and reflection as students create images with flat mirrors. Students will also engage in hands-on investigations of the geometry and patterns of symmetry. Grades K-3

Discovering Density
In this workshop students determine how to can change the density of liquids, and discover how to use this knowledge for some surprising effects. Students will see how density is a property of matter and learn about solutions and concentrations. Grades 3-5

Balancing Act
This hands-on physical science workshop lets students investigates balance, center of gravity, and mechanical advantage. Students will use their knowledge of mechanical advantage and center of gravity to create a whimsical balance toy to bring home. Grades 3-7

Batteries, Motors & Bulbs
Students use batteries, motors, and bulbs to explore electricity to develop their understanding of complete circuits. They will create different electrical circuits to learn about insulators and conductors, voltage, series circuits, and open and closed circuits. Students that are well versed in basic electricity concepts will also explore parallel circuits and amperage. Grades 3-7

Making Music: Sound Science
Amplify your electricity unit using music technology like guitar pickups to explore the interconnected nature of electricity and magnetism. Combine Engineering with the Core Ideas of Forces and Interactions, and Energy, as you build simple electromechanical instruments. Grades 4-8

Curved Mirrors and Focusing Light
Students will investigate how curved mirrors can focus light in often surprising ways. This effect will be further investigated as we integrate art and science in our work with anamorphic (stretched out) images. Grades 4-8

Hot Air Balloons
What's lighter than air? Hot air! Students will work in small groups building their own hot air balloons. The scientific concepts of density, heat, and other properties of air are revealed as students fly their balloons in the Museum's main hall. Grades 4-9

Build a Better Battery
How does a battery work? Students will make real batteries with a variety of metals and simple, safe electrolytes. Using multimeters they will measure the amount of electric energy their batteries produce in both volts and amps. This investigation also allows students to further their understanding of series and parallel circuits used to power simple electrical components. Grades 5-8

Engineering and Physical Science:

Visitors at Electric Island activityWho Sank the Boat?
Students will experiment with different materials to find out what sinks and what floats. Children will then use aluminum foil to construct and test their own boats. As a class they will record and represent data from observations of their experiments. A reading of Pamela Allen's book, "Who Sank the Boat?" is included, which integrates science and children's literature. Pre-K-Grade 2

Engineering & Structures
Students will participate in individual and group building projects that demonstrate the strength of triangles, simple arches, and other elements of structural design. Grades 3-6

Reinventing the Wheel
Students experience an engineering and design challenge as they use simple materials to "invent" a wheel-and-axle system. This fun, open-ended workshop is the perfect way to present the simple machines unit. Grades 4-6

Tinkering: Scribble Bots!
Students will create a machine that makes modern art while learning how to wire circuits, offset a motor, problem solve, experiment with balance, deal with material constraints, and troubleshoot components.  It’s a multi-disciplinary experience that students will not soon forget. Grades 4-8.

Tinkering: Electric Island
Build a 3D structure with paper and cardboard and wire a circuit to light it up! This workshop integrates engineering practices, builds knowledge of electrical circuits and LEDs, and is a lot of fun. At the conclusion of the workshop students have built a glowing model island city. Grades 4-8.

Tinkering: Wind Vehicles
In this workshop students will work in teams to design, build, and test a wind-powered vehicle. Students will utilize their engineering and problem solving skills to create a stable vehicle while optimizing their design for speed and distance. Students in grades 5-8 will collect and use timing data as they test, iterate, and improve their vehicles. For grades 2-8.

Tinkering: Chain Reactions
See what can happens as you work against the clock to build an oversized, collaborative Chain Reaction Machine inspired by Rube Goldberg's designs. Working in teams, students will engineer and construct a machine that will be linked in a giant group chain reaction. This program offers plenty of opportunity for students to engage in problem solving and creative thinking while working with concepts of friction, gravity, forces, and motion. For grades 5-8.

Life Sciences (Including biology and ecology):

Students with microscopesExploring the Outdoors
Young students will immerse themselves in the study of nature in this outdoor workshop on the Montshire’s 100 acres. We’ll start off by doing a silent walk to sharpen our senses, then use microscopes and other tools to collect and examine insects, plants, and soils found in the meadow and forest. 75-minute outdoor program offered in the fall and spring only. Grades K-2

Outdoor Sleuths
Explore the Montshire's forests and fields in this outdoor investigation. Students will develop "sleuthing" skills as they use their senses of touch, smell, sight, and sound to discover the plants and animals that share these habitats. While practicing techniques needed to explore our landscape they will also learn to be good stewards of our environment. Students and teachers should be dressed for time in the field. (Please choose an alternate program in case of extreme weather conditions.) 75-minute outdoor program offered in the fall and spring only. K-Grade 2

In this workshop, students will use microscopes, the Montshire's insect collection, and live animals to look closely at the creatures that really rule the world! We'll focus on the incredible diversity and fascinating structures of insects and other arthropods. Grades K-4

Seedy Science
Use the museum’s seed collection to explore plant adaptations and diversity! Students will sort and classify seeds, practice identification, and examine seeds and sprouts with hand lenses and microscopes. Grades K-3

Animal Tracks & Signs
Students will learn about the behavior of local animals through the signs they leave behind. This program will introduce your students to the tracks of New England's familiar mammals. An indoor inquiry includes an up-close encounter with mounted specimens from the Museum's collection. Grades 1-3

Blood & Guts
This human anatomy workshop focuses on the digestive, respiratory, and circulation systems. Students build a full-scale model of their body and see what makes them tick and gurgle. Grades 1-4

Using the forest as our lab, students will explore the ecological process of decomposition.  We’ll dissect and record what we find in a rotting log and examine the forest leaf litter to gain a greater understanding of the process of organic matter breaking down into soil. 75-minute outdoor program offered in the fall and spring only. Grades 3-5

Aquatic Explorations: Investigating Pond and Stream Life
Using microscopes and hand lenses, students will investigate micro- and macro-invertebrates that are found in our local ponds and marshes. Direct observations may include dragonfly, mayfly, and caddisfly larvae, as well as other invertebrates. This will help students better understand these animals' complex life cycles and the important role they play in an aquatic system's food web. Offered in the fall and spring. Grades 4-8

By the Numbers: Examining Climate Patterns
In this workshop students will examine local data sets, and the stories that go with them, to discern patterns in climate. We’ll also discuss how we can be citizen scientists and use phenology, the study of the timing of natural phenomena, to study changing patterns in our own neighborhoods. Grades 5-7

Cells are the basic building blocks of life. In this workshop students will use compound microscopes to observe the differences and similarities between animal and plant cells. They will practice staining techniques to more easily observe specific structures in cells including the cell nucleus and cell wall. Grades 5-8

From the Ground Up
Students will start an ecological investigation by using quick surveying and mapping techniques to explore a small plot. Then we will learn how to take soil cores and use those cores along with our surveys to compare in small groups the biotic and abiotic factors acting on different habitats. 75-minute outdoor program offered in the fall and spring only. Grades 6-8

Earth Science:

Stream Table activityInvestigating Fossils: Tracks of the Past
Students get to handle real fossils from the Museum's collection while learning about plants and animals from long ago. Using plaster of Paris, students will make a "fossil" to take home. Grades K-4

The StarLab portable planetarium program brings the night sky to life using a carefully designed program for elementary and middle school students. For younger elementary students, special focus is made on understanding how the Earth’s movement affects day and night. Middle elementary students begin to explore how the Earth’s orbit affects seasonal variations in visible constellations. For upper elementary and middle school students we might explore more advanced topics such as moon phases or the location of planets, depending on teacher expectations. Inside the dome, the program focuses on the current night sky with emphasis on learning how to locate key stars, constellations, visible planets and the moon. Grades 1-9

StarLab is sponsored this year by the Roesch Family.

Clouds and Condensation
Students will experiment with moisture and temperature to create miniature atmospheric models in this workshop developed with support from NASA. We’ll create clouds and frost and discuss the interactions that produce familiar weather phenomena. Grades 2-5

The Rock Cycle
Students will handle and observe rock samples with microscopes as they investigate how and where New England’s rocks have formed, moved, and changed. They will learn about the volcanic origins of igneous rocks like granite, the layered formation of shale, and the dynamic processes that have acted to produce the most ubiquitous rocks in our region, the metamorphic rocks. Grades 2-6

Mapping the Arctic
Students will use globes, maps, and NASA apps to explore the changing geography of the Arctic.  Along the way they will make a tabletop model of a polar ocean complete with sea ice and icebergs.  In this fun introduction to polar geography students have the chance to take the first step to understanding the effects of climate change. Grades 2-6

Daytime Astronomy
Through this exploration students will learn how the Earth's rotation determines the sun's apparent motion in the sky. Students will collect and record their observations as they track changes in the sun's position and shadows cast. If weather allows, students will view the sun with our solar telescope. This program culminates with students making a sundial in order to continue their observations at home. Grades 3-7

River Formation
Roll up your sleeves for this hands-on workshop. Students will use stream tables to investigate how the force of water moves sediment, shapes rivers, and forms deltas. They will then zoom out and view satellite imagery of New England streams and rivers for a different perspective. Grades 3-8

Deep Time: A History of Life on Earth
The earth is really, really, really, really old. This program will give students a sense of just how long 4 billion years is and how the Earth and life have changed over time. Through the use of images, along with rocks, minerals and fossils from the Museum's collection, students will lay out a timeline to visualize what scientists call "deep time." Grades 5-8

Investigating Earth's Energy Balance
Knowledge of how earth reflects and absorbs energy from the sun is crucial to understanding climate and how it is changing. Using handheld computers and other digital tools, students will measure the temperature and the “reflectivity” of different colored materials. Students will plot the data, reach conclusions about how materials respond to solar radiation, and discuss the implications for earth’s polar regions and the earth as a whole. Grades 5-8