Home School Field Trips


The philosophy of the following home school classes is that students learn best by doing. Each class is developed to be “hands-on” and experiential. Classes are broken into 3 parts of 30 minutes each: Introduction and discussion of the topic, hands-on stations, and outdoor exploration. See “FCPS/Private School Programs” for additional home school program options. Parents are encouraged to attend, but must register for the class.

  • Additional home school programs and topics are available by request
  • All attendees are required to register and pay, including siblings
  • Minimum group size is 6 participants and maximum is 20
  • One adult chaperone is required for every 10 participants
  • Programs are 1 ½ -3 hours in length, depending on the program
  • Reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance
  • Adult chaperones may be asked to actively assist with program
  • Program Fees: *$8.00 / per participant
  • To reserve your program, please call 301-600-1646


Please call the Park Naturalist at 301-600-4460 for further information about any of the programs listed below.


To make a reservation, please call 301-600-1646.

Program Descriptions

Botany Bonanza

Students will focus on the flora of Fountain Rock Park. Through games and activities, students will learn the parts and functions of a plant, and the important role plants play in many ecological relationships. By walking the trails of the park, students will improve their plant identification skills in order to create own botanical field guides.

Ecology of Trees

We will use the forest trails of Fountain Rock Park as a "window on the world" to increase students' understanding of the importance of trees in our environment. Students will understand forestry from an environmental and a commercial perspective by conducting a Forest Inventory. They will use clinometers, logger’s tapes, and calipers to make their determinations. Through nature games and activities, students will identify trees by their external physical characteristics and understand the function of the various parts of a tree's anatomy.

Habits of Habitats

Students will learn the answers to the following questions: Why are rainforests called "the lungs of the planet"? Is there such a thing as “desert rainfall”? Where do the leaves go in a deciduous forest? How long does a dragonfly larva live under water? Students will discover how animal and plant survival in these different habitats depends on physical and behavioral adaptations. Students will look at the impact humans have on habitats and how we can help prevent endangered animals from becoming extinct.

If A Rock Could Talk

Can you identify a rock just by looking at it? Where does it come from? How was it made? Is it useful? Can rocks be recycled? The story will unfold as you learn about where a rock begins and why you find rocks in different places, such as oceans, mountain sides, or your neighborhood creek. We will test rocks using various methods to determine identification of unknown samples. Take your new found geology skills and use them to find cool rocks in Maryland. You will never look at rocks the same!

I'm Not Swimming In That!

Composting, recycling, erosion, pollution - what do they all mean? In this class students will examine both the positive and negative effects of human activity on the Chesapeake Watershed. Through interactive activities and games, students gain a deeper understanding of the cumulative impact of human actions on the local environment and its waterways.

Insect Olympics

A human Olympiad could not compete with the average ant (if they were the same size, that is). Can you jump higher than a grasshopper? Can you outrun a cockroach? How will you do in a “track and field” competition against insects? Insects have amazing abilities to cope in a really big world, but fast may not be enough because of the multitude of predators. Many adaptations make insects unique: metamorphosis is a mysterious process that enables some insects to live double lives, molting to heal and grow, specialized mouth parts, and some can even fly. Come find out what it is like to live in a bug’s world!

Lizards, Turtles & Snakes - Oh My!

Here's a chance to face your fears or satisfy your curiosity by meeting the resident reptiles at the nature center. We will investigate native vs. non-native, venomous species, reptiles as pets, adaptations, and survival mechanisms (and they aren’t targeted at humans). By exploring their habitats, we will learn that reptiles are found in different environments, but they share the same basic needs. Everyone will have an opportunity to take part in an outdoor scavenger hunt to answer the ultimate reptile question.

Migration Mayhem

In this class students find out where, why and how birds migrate through participation in games and simulations. While migration is an important adaptation for birds, it presents many dangers for them. Learn about the 4 major North American flyways and experience different migration techniques: magnetic field detection, visual landmark clues, nature's time limits (storms, cold, etc), and even auditory clues. Discover what it really means to be a “Frequent Flyer!”

No Bones about It

Students will study different skulls and the various features (teeth, jaw, cranium) to classify as omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores. What physical adaptations has each animal made to match their habitat and diet, and are these good adaptations for the environment? Hands-on activities will be used to illustrate the variations in skeletal structures. Students will observe the skeletal movement of various live animals from the nature center. They will also solve a mystery on the trail by identifying several bones.

Weather or Not?

What does the sky tell us about the weather? Students will identify types of weather, understand weather map symbols, and use both to create their own personal weather chart. Students will learn the important ingredients that make up the sky: gases, water, particles, and sunlight, and how each plays a role in weather and natural disasters. By looking through a water prism, students will see how a rainbow is formed. Through outdoor observation, students will discover the different types of clouds and what type of weather they bring. Students will be shown the outdoor weather station instrument at Fountain Rock Park.

Woodland Indian Culture

With such a rich Native American history and a plethora of artifacts and materials available at Fountain Rock Nature Center, students will have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture and lifestyle of Woodland Indians. Students will gain an appreciation of how Woodland Indians lived: their sustainable living habits, environmental and social interdependence, and their environmental resourcefulness.