Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

Programs for educators and school groups.

PreK-8 School Programs at Mercer Slough

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center - Trail Work
Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center - Lab Work

PreK-8 Field Study Programs

Explore wetland, pond, slough and forest habitats with a half field-based and half lab-based field trip. Use scientific equipment to examine wetland life, including looking at macroinvertebrates with our video microscope. 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. Programs require a ratio of one chaperone per 16 students. Adults are free of charge.

Limited financial assistance is available for qualifying schools! To learn more, call (206) 443-2925 or email NZabel@pacsci.org

Preschool Field Study Programs

Bring your preschool class for a one-of-a-kind field trip to the Mercer Slough Nature Park. Students will build a sense of wonder for the natural world as you explore the park to learn about plants and animals. Preschool field study programs are designed for children ages 3-5. One adult chaperone must accompany each group of five preschoolers. Adults are free of charge.

Choose one of the following programs:

Preschool Prowl
Join us for a sensory adventure through the wetlands! From September – mid-October and mid-April – June we hike the boardwalk trail out to Mercer Slough channel from Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm. From Mid-October to mid-April join us at the Bellefields Trailhead for a hike down through the forest to the wetland. Spot wildlife, get up close and personal with Spy Scopes, test your senses during “dozen touches” and hunt for colors of the rainbow. Length: 1.5 hours

Cost:

  • $88 for up to 10 students
  • $157 for 11 – 20 students

Preschool Seekers
Discover what kinds of creatures live around the wetland as you descend from a forest to the Mercer Slough pond. Use nets and special tools to meet the baby insects and other creatures that start their lives under the waters of our pond. Act out the travels of wetland creatures and the life cycle of a dragonfly. Spend half your time on the trail near our Education Center and the other half investigating water samples in the lab. Length: 2.5 hours with break for lunch or snack

Cost:

  • $122 for up to 10 students
  • $188 for 11 – 20 students
Grades K-2

Habitat Wonderers

Ever wonder what makes up a habitat? Search the wetlands for wildlife and compare them to organisms in a forest habitat. Become an animal and figure out what adaptations you need to survive in your habitat. In the lab, focus on the pond habitat as you examine aquatic life in pond samples with a variety of magnifying tools. This program aligns with the grades K-2 Next Level Generation Science Standards and is compatible with the Insects FOSS kit and the Organisms STC Kit. Length: 3 hours with break for lunch

Soil Adventurers

Roll up those sleeves – it’s time to explore soils. During a wetland hike, examine the characteristics of different soils using soil probes and your senses as you look for signs that new soil is being made. In our lab, use magnifying lenses to identify the soil recyclers that live in wetland soils and discover why soils are an important resource. This program aligns with the grades K-2 Next Level Generation Science Standards and was developed to enrich the Soils STC kit, but can be taken without the kit. Length: 3 hours with break for lunch

Cost:

  • $160 for up to 16 students
  • $259 for 17-32 students
  • $358 for 33-48 students
  • $458 for 49-64 students
  • $557 for 65-80 students
  • $656 for 81-96 students
Grades 2-5 | Wetland Naturalists

Experience the secrets of the wetland and make the earth move under your feet. As a naturalist, observe the soil, plants and animals as you hike through the wetland. Along the way you will encounter the challenges of a migrating bird and discover the importance of wetlands. In the lab, collect pond samples and use microscopes and other scientific tools to examine aquatic macroinvertebrates. This program aligns with the grades 2-5 Next Generation Science Standards. Length: 4 hours with break for lunch

Cost:

  • $182 for up to 16 students
  • $309 for 17-32 students
  • $436 for 33-48 students
  • $563 for 49-64 students
  • $689 for 65-80 students
  • $816 for 81-96 students
Grades 4-5 | Ecosystem Explorers

Explore Mercer Slough to identify the parts of the wetland ecosystem and discover their interactions. Look for evidence of producers, consumers and decomposers and learn how these organisms are connected in a complex food web. Look for animal signs and use microscopes to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates as part of your ecosystem survey. This program aligns with the grades 4-5 Next Level Generation Science Standards and also complements the Ecosystems STC kit. Length: 4 hours with break for lunch

Cost:

  • $182 for up to 16 students
  • $309 for 17-32 students
  • $436 for 33-48 students
  • $563 for 49-64 students
  • $689 for 65-80 students
  • $816 for 81-96 students
NEW! Grades 4-6 | Environmental Engineering

Become an engineer to learn about the design process and how it can be used to clean up water, restore habitats and in turn provide healthier places to live. Examine the ways a wetland acts as a natural engineer while designing some solutions to keep our wetlands healthy. This program aligns with the grades 4-6 Next Generation Science Standards. Length: 4 hours with break for lunch

Cost:

  • $182 for up to 15 students
  • $309 for 16-30 students
  • $436 for 31-45 students
  • $563 for 46-60 students
Grades 6-8 | Wetland Ecologists

Become a wetland ecologist as you learn to delineate wetland habitats, identify plants using a dichotomous key, and compare soils using a soil probe. In the lab, collect pond samples and identify aquatic macroinvertebrates to determine their pollution tolerance levels. Compare biological and chemical tests as you assess pond water for pH and dissolved oxygen. This program aligns with the grades 6-8 Next Generation Science Standards and is great with the Diversity of Life and chemistry content FOSS kits. Length: 5 hours with break for lunch

Cost:

  • $204 for up to 15 students
  • $353 for 16-30 students
  • $502 for 31-45 students
  • $651 for 46-60 students
  • $799 for 61-75 students
  • $944 for 76-90 students

PreK-8 Environmental Science Classroom Lessons

Bring Mercer Slough to your school, community center or any other venue and discover the wonders of nature. Pacific Science Center’s environmental science educators will engage your PreK–8 grade students with hands-on investigations involving aquatic macroinvertebrates, animal skulls, native plants, chemistry and more. Our lessons offer a unique experiential complement to your science curricula while building excitement for nature and ecology. Explore the wonders of nature from Mercer Slough without leaving your classroom. For more outreach lessons, assemblies and exhibits on other science themes, explore Science On Wheels. Program Details:

  • Length: 45 minutes per lesson
  • When: September through March in classrooms throughout King County. Inquire for locations outside King County.
  • Capacity: max. 32 students per K-8 lesson, max. 24 students per preschool lesson
  • Cost: $180 for one classroom lesson, $110 for each additional lesson on the same day. A round-trip mileage fee of $0.56 per mile will be calculated from Mercer Slough.
Preschool & Kindergarten Lessons
Ages 3-6  |  max. 24 students  | requires a 1:8 ratio of chaperones to students Animal Trackers Solve animal mysteries using their tracks! Walk, waddle and bound like animals do. Explore animal footprints and make your own “Track Story” to take home. Pairs well with both Preschool Field Study Programs at Mercer Slough Bird Watchers Tweet! Tweet! Find out why birds do the things they do as you try out bird behaviors such as preening, feeding and singing. Get an up-close look at feathers and spread your wings to see if you can fly like a hummingbird, robin or eagle! Pairs well with both Preschool Field Study Programs at Mercer Slough Terrific Trees Get hands-on with trees as you investigate bark, leaves, needles, seeds and cones. Make bark and leaf rubbings to see the different textures of trees. Stretch out during “Tree Yoga” when you become a tree! Pairs well with the Trees FOSS kit. Pairs well with the Preschool Prowl field study program
Grades 3-5 Lessons

Avian Adaptations Did you know that a bird’s beak is a clue to learning what it eats? Discover why birds have different beaks during an interactive game of Bird Beak Buffet. Make a graph of your data and find out how some of our local Western Washington bird species use their beaks.

  • Pairs well with the Wetland Naturalists and Ecosystems Explorers field study programs

Wildlife Biologists Predator or prey? Compare animal skulls to each other and a human skull model for clues to determine what animals eat and which senses help them survive in the wild. Make connections as you puzzle out the pieces of the food web.

  • Relates to the Structures of Life FOSS kit and Animal Studies STC kit
  • Related field study programs: Wetland Naturalists and Ecosystem Explorers

Watershed Hydrologists What happens to water as it flows from the mountains to the sea? Learn to identify watershed parts and try out our Enviroscape watershed model. Discover some of the ways humans impact the watershed and how we can protect our local waterways.

  • Can be used as an extension to the Water FOSS kit and the Land and Water STC kit.
  • Related field study program: Wetland Naturalists
Grades K-3 Lessons

Budding Botanists Become a botanist as you investigate parts from a variety of local plants and discover how they work. Use magnifying tools to take a closer look at plants and work together to “Build a Plant.” Compatible with the New Plants FOSS kit and the Organisms STC kit.

  • Video projector required*
  • Related Field Study program: Habitat Wonderers

Outrageous Owls Whooo is ready to learn about owls? Investigate the amazing adaptations that help these birds of the night find the food, water and shelter they need to survive. Then dissect an owl pellet to see what an owl eats for dinner, working to identify the bones of a mystery animal.

  • Related Field Study program: Habitat Wonderers

Soil Sleuths (grades 1-2) What is soil? Examine a soil core from Mercer Slough Nature Park, experiment with a sedimentation tube and use sieves to separate soil parts. See the parts of soil up close with our Scope on a Rope projector. Compatible with the Pebbles, Sand and Silt FOSS kit and the Soils STC kit.

  • Video projector required*
  • Related Field Study program: Soil Adventurers

Macroinvertebrate Metamorphosis (grades 2-3) Investigate the life cycle of pond organisms as you learn about complete and incomplete metamorphosis. Use a variety of magnifying tools to examine aquatic macroinvertebrates as larva, nymphs, pupa and adults.

  • Video projector required. We may have one available; inquire when you call to register.
  • Pairs well with the Habitat Wonderers and Wetland Naturalists field study programs

*We may have a video projector available for your classroom lesson. Please inquire when you call to register.

Grades 6-8 Lessons

The lessons below are also included in the Wetland Ecologists field study program offered on-site at Mercer Slough. A full class visit to Mercer Slough includes a wetland hike and field study investigations. Biological Indicators Practice a biological assessment of aquatic ecosystem health as you identify macroinvertebrates to determine their pollution tolerance levels. Use magnifying tools and identification guides to direct your investigation.

  • Requires a video projector. We may have one available for your lesson; please inquire when you call to register.
  • This class pairs well with the Diversity of Life FOSS kit.
  • Compare your biological assessment to chemical tests by pairing your experience with the Chemical Tests lesson.

Chemical Tests Don gloves and goggles as you determine the pH and dissolved oxygen levels of water samples from Mercer Slough. What do these tests tell about the health of the ecosystem? Can be used as an extension to chemistry content FOSS kits. This lesson works well as a supplement to the Biological Indicators lesson.

  • Requires access to water in the classroom; laboratory space with eye wash preferred

 

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center
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