Environmental Education

Students conducting field experiments
Students conducting field experiments in Rock Creek Park

NPS Photo

The outdoor classroom

There are a wide variety of programs available for pre-K through high school. Programs include animal and plant habitats, a chance to touch live animals, and learning how animals use their senses. Students can learn about conserving and protecting our resources and experience hands-on what an invasive species is and its effect on the forest community. Skill-building activities include conducting real field experiments where life happens!

Need to make a reservation?

Programs are free but must be scheduled a minimum of two weeks in advance. Call us at 202-895-6070 Wednesday through Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.


Preschool and kindergarten programs

Nature Tales (45 minutes) A story in combination with a hike, live animals, or other activities introduce young students to a variety of topics. Choose from Animal Babies, Camouflage, Slithering Snakes, Oh Deer, or Turtle Mania.

Animal Viewing (30 minutes) Observe our live animals at the Nature Center. Learn how they live, touch their skins and shells, and find out what they eat!

Seasons in the Park (45 minutes) Discover the beauty of Rock Creek Park in any season. Hike the nearby forest and look for seasonal changes.

Curriculum-based programs

Sensory Stroll - 1st-2nd grade - (1 hour) Observe nature in a whole new way! Discover how animals use their senses to survive.

Meet A Tree - 1st-3rd grade - (1 hour) Meet a new friend...a tree! Learn how trees are similar to people and find out why they are so important.

Habitat Hunt - 2nd-3rd grade - (1 hour) Explore a section of Rock Creek Park's 1,750 acres of habitat and find out why it is so important to the animals of Washington, DC.

Adaptations - 2nd - 4th grade - (1 hour) Win, loose, or adapt! Discover how animals must adapt to thrive in their environment.

Protecting our Park - 4th-6th grade - (1-2 hours) Learn the importance of conserving and protecting our natural resources and explore the forest community from the ground up. An invasive-species service component may be available.

Bridging the Watershed - Middle and High School grades - (4 hours) High school teachers of Earth Science, Biology, Environmental Science, and Chemistry are required to attend a one-week teacher-ranger summer institute to take part in Bridging the Watershed. New participants need to be acquainted with the Bridging the Watershed curriculum, program logistics, and become familiarized with Park resources. Visit the Bridging the Watershed web site for more information. Choose one of six performance-based science modules focused on the Potomac River Watershed:

  • Watershed Watchdogs: Chemistry or environmental science students study nine parameters that will help them determine the Water Quality Index (WQI) for Rock Creek, or one of its tributaries.
  • Herring Highway: Conduct a habitat assessment and fish survey to determine whether Rock Creek is a welcoming habitat for fish. Discover the complex stories of fish migration and how Rock Creek is a Herring Highway..
  • Don't Get Sedimental: Students explore surface runoff and learn about the connections between land disturbance and sediment load in the watershed.
  • Alien Invaders: Students observe a distinct ecosystem in a nearby national park and assess the extent of non-native plant invasions that threaten biodiversity.
  • Water Canaries: Students determine water quality by assessing the population of aquatic macroinvertebrates in a nearby National Park.
  • Talkin' Trash: Students explore human leavings, trash disposal, and lifestyle choices that create or reduce trash output.

Travel Tips

• Parking for buses, vans, and cars is available at the Nature Center.
• Bring your lunch. There are limited uncovered picnic areas nearby. There are no food facilities in the park.
• Incorporate pre- and post-trip lessons into your visit.

Stormy weather. Are we open?

During inclement weather, particularly snowstorms and hurricanes, federal offices in the district area may be closed. To check if we are open go to www.opm.gov, click on the "operating status" along the top bar. Also check local television and radio broadcasts for announcements.

Need to contact us?

Running late?
Need to change or cancel your reservation?
Call us at 202-895-6070 Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Last updated: June 11, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

5200 Glover Rd, NW
Washington , DC 20015


202 895-6000
Rock Creek Park's main phone line.

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