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School Programs

Field Trips and Educational Opportunities

 Urban Ecology field trips

The Nature Center offers a wide range of programs to meet the needs of regional public and private educators. All our programs incorporate a hands-on, place-based approach to learning. Whether it is a single classroom or an entire grade level, give the center a call and we can discuss how to enhance your science and history curriculum with exciting activities in geology, plant and animal studies, or Native American and California gold history.  

Field trips are scheduled throughout the week.

The fee for scheduled programs at the center is $5 per student.

For additional information or to schedule a field trip call (909) 349-6994. 

Curriculum Options

Program activities utilize the park-like natural area surrounding the center. By varying content and instruction, each program can be adapted to the specialized curriculum needs of multiple grade levels. Click here to see how programs align with CA state curriculum standards.

Many of our programs include an activity where students make a craft, game, or tool to take with them reminding them of their visit. “Make and take” suggestions for each program appear in parentheses following the program’s description.    

Organisms & Ecosystems

lady beetle on the edge

From the Ground Up (K-4th grade)
A busy unseen world thrives beneath our feet. With the help of magnifying glasses, binoculars, and quadrats, small study groups explore and classify the bugs and insects we discover and observe.  

On the Edge: Life in the Urban-Wildland Interface (K-4th grade)
Southern California is rich in diverse habitats and the unique species inhabiting them. This program’s activities explore the natural connections between animals and habitat, the wonders of life cycles and development.  

The Green Garden
Our Urban Forest (3rd-6th grade)
In the park surrounding the Nature Center students are introduced to one of the fundamental concepts of science – classifying by physical observation. With dichotomous plant key in hand we will explore our urban forest identifying trees and mapping their location.

Born to Burn (8th–high school)

An investigation into our unique Mediterranean plant communities that have adapted to long dry summers and periodic wild fire. In small study groups students run line transects and utilize one-meter quadrat to survey for plant cover and species diversity.

Week 3 (6).JPG

Urban Waterscapes  

 IMG_0813.JPG Wet & Wild: A Close-up Look at Life in a Pond (2nd-5th grade)
Who lives in our Nature Center pond? How do they fit into the pond’s food web? This program’s exercises explore the principles of biodiversity, adaptation, and growth through metamorphosis.

Pond Ecology (6th-high school)

An exciting outdoor lab that investigates the health of the Nature Center’s pond. In small study groups students test for temperature, turbidity, and four water-quality parameters. We also sample for aquatic indicator species. A practical engaging way of teaching the scientific method.

Earth Inquiry

 Jurupa Hills granite
Rockworks (2nd-6th grade
Based on how they are formed rocks are grouped into three families. Students investigate this basic geologic principle, also learning how rocks are made from minerals.  Outside we look to the hills behind the center to see the process of erosion at work.  

Earthworks (6th-high school)

This program builds on the principles of Rockworks while adding demonstrations and exercises for plate tectonics, Moh’s Hardness Scale, and mineral scratch test.  


California History

The First Californians (3rd-5th grade
A trip back in time to visit the fascinating world of early California. Through stories and activities we recreate the world of two traditional cultures - the Serrano and Gabrieleno-Tongva. An interactive hands-on approach to the southland’s rich cultural heritage. 

The Rush for Gold (3rd-5th grade)

Organized into companies of 49’ers students recreate the trip west to the gold fields of California. Economic and physical challenges wait along the way, but by working together students confront the hardships of the journey and arrive at the gold fields ready to pan for “color” in our sluices. An exciting exercise in living history. 

Week 4 (23).JPG 


Considerations for Planning Your Trip

Structuring the Field Trip

Since most of our field trips accommodate numbers between 40 and 140 students, we utilize a center-based approach to programming. Most often teachers will be asked to organize their students into three groups that will align with three centers or activity stations. During the morning portion of the program groups rotate through the stations, completing all three before lunch. After lunch students enjoy an educational live-animal demonstration and, if time and interest allow, a nature walk.

Helpful Hints
Grade level recommendations for specific programs are only suggestions. Curriculum and activities can be tailored to fit your needs

  • Programs are flexible. Start and stop times are easily adapted to fit your school day's schedule
  • No minimum or maximum adult-student ratios are required. While parents can provide helpful support, we ask teachers to remind parents that they are part of a group and should not become a distraction
  • Remember to prepare accordingly for your day in the park: closed-toed shoes, lunches, and water during the warmer months
  • Payment is due on the date of the program, unless prior arrangements for a purchase order have been made 

Programs at Your Site
We are aware of the increasing challenges teachers face when looking to schedule and budget for field trips. For this reason we have designed many of our programs, activities, and curriculum to travel to your school or educational center.

Fontana City Hall
8353 Sierra Ave.
Fontana, CA 92335
Ph: (909) 350-7600
M-Th, 8am - 6pm