Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

PreK-8 Field Study Programs at Mercer Slough

PreK-8 Field Study Programs

Explore the wetland, pond, slough and forest habitats in a 320-acre biodiverse nature park just outside of Downtown Bellevue. Half of the trip is spent in the classroom, and then a 30 minute break to eat a picnic lunch. The other half of your trip is spent outside exploring the nature park. All programs are aligned to meet the Next Generation Science Standards and also address the revised Washington State K-12 Science Standards and the Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Learning Standards.

Schedule a Field Trip for a visit between November and February to receive a 10% Winter Discount!

Fill out the Mercer Slough Field Trip registration form to schedule your visit today!

Financial assistance and a sliding scale pricing model are available. Call (206) 443-2925 or email mercersloughprograms@pacsci.org to find out if your school qualifies.

Preschool Programs (Ages 3-5)
Preschool Prowl Hike: 1.5 hours, No lunch
Preschool Prowl guides kids through an exploration of the nature park using all of our senses along the way.

Arrival Group Activity: As groups arrive, you will get to build your own nature-scope to take with you on your hike. Once everyone has arrived, the program beings with a puppet show. The Coyote and the Snail helps guide students through the activities of the day, and the rules they should follow on a hike.
Hike: Our educators lead your Preschoolers on the 0.2 mile trail near the Education Center. Your students then learn how to use their 5 senses to explore the natural world around them. There is a guided activity for each sense; seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, but not tasting this time! Activities include: seeing like a bug, feeling nature’s textures, creating a sound map, and smelling their way home. At the end of their hike, students can put all of their senses to the test by searching for bugs and playing a fun group game.
Cost:

  • $112 for 1–10 students
  • $196 for 11–20 students

Preschool Seekers: 2 hours including a 30 minute lunch
Preschool Seekers helps kids learn about different habitats and what creatures can live there.

Lab: Students show their knowledge of animal habitats before learning about creatures called Aquatic Macroinvertebrates and their habitat, The Pond. After learning about the pond, students go to the pond and collect their own samples of creatures to bring back to the classroom for a closer look. As your students capture these macro’s, our Educator shows what they look like under a microscope connected to a video projector.
Hike: Students continue their discussion of habitats when they meet Sally the Snail who is confused about her home. She likes her shell, but would love help from your preschoolers to find the right habitat for her. Groups then go on a 0.2 mile walk on the trail near the Education Center and learn about many different animals’ habitats along the way. Each habitat has an activity to help Sally learn if that habitat is the right home for her. At the end of the hike, your students play a running game to release any last energy they have before going home.

Cost:

  • $154 for 1–10 students
  • $238 for 11–20 students
Grades K-2
Habitat Wonderers: 3 hours including a 30 minute lunch.
Habitat Wonderers shows students what adaptations organisms need in order to survive in different habitats.

Lab: Students become familiar with the science terms, “organism,” “habitat” and “adaptation” before getting hands-on experience searching for and catching Aquatic Macroinvertebrates from the pond samples. After, they have a unique experience looking at all of the pond creatures under a projector microscope to really bring those adaptations to life.
Hike: Educators show students a new way of exploring habitats by practicing observation skills in both a forest and a wetland. Students are challenged to find different examples of food, water and shelter in a group scavenger hunt. If there is enough time, groups can get any extra energy out playing an organism game.

NGS Standards
Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • K-LS1-1: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.
  • K-ESS2-2: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
  • K-ESS3-1: Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
  • K-ESS3-3: Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
  • 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, grown, and meet their needs.
  • 2-LS3-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
  • 2-LS4-1: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Soil Adventurers: 3 hours including a 30 minute lunch.
Soil Adventurers asks students to investigate the soils in different habitats and shows them the importance of decomposition for soil health.

Lab: Students discover for themselves just how important soil is to human’s food sources, and learn to describe the soil cycle with all of the different soil makers. After this, they sift through soil samples and collect Soil Macroinvertebrates to look at under a video microscope.
Hike: The hike takes students through a forest and wetland habitat and allows them to observe the differences in the soils in each place. They learn to draw connections between all of the different ways decomposition can happen during a group scavenger hunt, and get their energy out playing a soil tagging game.

NGS Standards
Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • K-PS3-1: Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.
  • K-ESS3-3: Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
  • 1-LS1-1: Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
  • 2-PS1-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
  • 2-ESS1-1: Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
  • 2-ESS2-1: Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.

Cost:

  • $202 for 1–16 students
  • $328 for 17–32 students
  • $451 for 33–48 students
  • $577 for 49–64 students
  • $702 for 65–80 students
  • $828 for 81–96 students
Grades 2-5
Wetland Naturalists: 4 hours including a 30 minute lunch
Wetland Naturalists challenges students to hone their observation skills by thinking critically about the importance of wetland habitats and how to identify them.

Lab: Students learn what wetlands are and why they are an important ecosystem to protect. With enough time, groups collect their own water samples from the nearby pond to bring back to the classroom. Students then search through the samples to collect Aquatic Macroinvertebrates. Using a video microscope to look closer at each Macro, students record their observations for sharing just like real naturalists.
Hike: The hike show students how naturalists use plants, soils and hydrology to do a wetland delineation to better protect the important ecosystem. Students practice their observation skills by using a guided scavenger hunt. With enough time, they learn the challenges of being a migrating bird while playing our Wetland Migration game.

NGS Standards
Students who demonstrate understanding can:

  • 2-PS1-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
  • 2-LS4-1: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
  • 2-ESS2-2: Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.
  • 3-LS3-2: Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
  • 3-LS4-3: Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • 3-LS4-4: Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
  • 4-LS1-1: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
  • 4-ESS2-1: Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
  • 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Cost:

  • $210 for 1–16 students
  • $358 for 17–32 students
  • $504 for 33–48 students
  • $650 for 49–64 students
  • $796 for 65–80 students
  • $943 for 81–96 students
Grades 4-5
Ecosystem Explorers: 4 hours including a 30 minute lunch.
Ecosystem Explorers gives students hands-on experience learning how energy flows through a complex ecosystem of producers, consumers and decomposers.

Lab: Students start their lab experience with a hands on activity to help them understand the relationships between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem. Having this knowledge, they complete population counts of producers, consumers and decomposers in a pond ecosystem before studying their samples on a video microscope for closer investigation.
Hike: On the hike, students continue their exploration of producer, consumer and decomposer population counts in the wetland and forest ecosystems. These results then guide a discussion of energy flow in ecosystem on a broader level. If there is enough time, students play a game that demonstrates how important decomposers are for the energy flow of an ecosystem.

NGS Standards
Students who demonstrate an understanding can:

  • 4-LS1-1: Construct and argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
  • 5-PS3-1: Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, and motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.
  • 5-LS1-1: Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
  • 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Cost:

  • $210 for 1–16 students
  • $358 for 17–32 students
  • $504 for 33–48 students
  • $650 for 49–64 students
  • $796 for 65–80 students
  • $943 for 81–96 students
Grades 5-7
Environmental Engineers: 4 hours including a 30 minute lunch.
This program shows students what challenges real-life environmental engineers face by having them design their own solutions to these problems using the engineering design process.

Lab: Students learn about the engineering design process before being presented with their biggest environmental engineering challenge of the day. Students then need to do research on past designs and test their own designs in our stream tables to engineer the best city-plan along the edge of a river. Along the way, your students might encounter unforeseen events and angry stakeholders that could make them reconsider their design before submitting their final model for approval.
Hike: Students learn more about Green Stormwater Infrastructure by exploring our LEED Gold Facilities onsite. In the nature park, they get hands-on experience with wetland delineation to decide if a proposed site is good for building on. With their new background knowledge, students then practice building their own Environmental Education Center out of natural materials along the trail. If there is enough time, students can to run around and play an engineering game of tag.

NGS Standards
Students who demonstrate an understanding can:

  • 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect Earth’s resources and environment.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3: Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
  • MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Cost:

  • $210 for 1–16 students
  • $358 for 17–32 students
  • $504 for 33–48 students
  • $650 for 49–64 students
Grades 6-8
Wetland Ecologists: Option of 4 or 5 hours including a 30 minute lunch.
This program allows students to become real Wetland Ecologists as they learn to delineate wetland habitats, identify plants using dichotomous keys and run water quality tests, all to answer the question: is the wetland healthy?

Lab: Groups spend the day answering the questions: is the wetland healthy, and how can we tell? Students collect water and samples from the pond to bring back to the lab for testing. We perform pH and DO water quality tests to start shaping our view of wetland health. The lab session wraps up with Benthic Macroinvertebrate collecting and reporting to see what the smallest pond creatures can tell us about the health of the wetland. If there is enough time, students can use the video microscope to learn more about each Aquatic Macro up close.
Hike: Depending on the group’s interest, students can enjoy a mile walk through the wetland doing a range of different activities to learn how real Wetland Ecologists conduct wetland delineations in the field. Students practice using a dichotomous key to learn how to identify plants, and which plants are indicative of wetland ecosystems. They use soil corers to understand more about the soils in wetlands and what makes the soils unique. Students also learn to read the landscape and gather clues about the hydrology of the place in order to understand the full picture of the ecosystem. At the end, students play a migrating bird game and can discuss the effects of human-caused climate change on their migrating patterns.

NGS Standards
Students who demonstrate an understanding can:

  • MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • MS-ESS3-5: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

Cost
OPTION A: 4 hours

  • $235 for 1–15 students
  • $408 for 16–30 students
  • $580 for 31–45 students
  • $752 for 46–60 students
  • $924 for 61–75 students
  • $1091 for 76–90 students

OPTION B: 5 hours

  • $248 for 1–15 students
  • $429 for 16–30 students
  • $608 for 31–45 students
  • $790 for 46–60 students
  • $970 for 61–75 students
  • $1146 for 76–90 students

Register for a Field Trip to Mercer Slough

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