K-12 tour topics

Each full-length museum tour will include a standards-based, hands-on science activity or lab experience. In order to inspire visitors’ curiosity, all of our programs use real organisms and techniques that are based on studies and research currently being done by our community of scientists. Activities are led by current and past graduate students, who are happy to share their knowledge with others.

Tours by grade
Type of Tour Grade Length Days

In-person, at the museum on UNR campus – Includes a behind-the-scenes tour of our museum and a hands-on science activity led by UNR scientists.

K-12th grade

75 minutes

Offered Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (Fall 2021)

Virtual Tours – Includes a video introduction to our natural history collections, followed by a science activity led by UNR scientists. For some activities, lab materials will be provided beforehand.

2nd-12th grade

About an hour

Offered 5 days a week

In-person, in-classroom – NEW THIS YEAR! Includes a video introduction to the museum and a lab activity lead by UNR scientist(s). Lab materials will be provided. For some labs, activities may include live reptiles and amphibians.

Middle and High School only

About an hour

Offered 5 days a week

Activities by grade
Science Activity Grade(s) In-person Virtual

Do plants and animals live in different habitats? Read stories about desert and wetland habitats then make observations of our plants and animals.

K

Yes No

How do birds use their beaks to eat? Observe specimens of several local bird species then use different tools that mimic different beak shapes to discover what foods the birds eat.

1st

Yes No

How do seeds move? Compare seeds from local plant species, make observations, and predict how the seeds might be dispersed.

2nd

Yes Yes

Where does my water come from? Build a paper model of a watershed and make predictions about where the water goes before exploring a large-scale model of our Lake Tahoe and Truckee River watershed and discussing how water moves through our watershed.

2nd - 3rd

Yes Yes

Can you identify our mystery snakes? Meet live non-venomous snakes from Nevada, then make observations and take measurements to identify the different species using a dichotomous key. 

3rd

Yes No

What birds live around us? Make observations from different bird species and get the chance to see many bird mounts from our collections.

3rd

No Yes

Who’s eating what in Lake Tahoe? Use historic accounts and pictures from Lake Tahoe along with aquatic specimens to recreate the Lake Tahoe food web from 4 different time periods.

4th - 5th

Yes Yes

How do feathers help birds survive? Observe different characteristics of feathers and take measurements to determine how different feathers function to help birds survive.

4th

Yes Yes

How do garter snakes eat poisonous prey? Take speed measurements for different garter snakes to help researchers at our university and discuss how some populations are able to eat toxic newts.

6th - 12th

Yes Yes

How can we protect our local mystery fish?  Students compare traits of different populations of fish to determine which is most closely related to the extinct Lahontan Cutthroat Trout native to the Truckee River watershed, then decide which to re-introduce back into our watershed. 

6th - 12th

Yes Yes

Next Generations Science Standards (NGSS)

The activities developed by the Museum of Natural History follow the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for K-12 students. These standards set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do. The NGSS were developed by states to improve science education for all students.

Learn more about the NGSS

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) three dimensions of learning
Lab Activity Science and Engineering Practices Crosscutting Concepts Disciplinary Core Ideas
Do plants and animals live in different habitats?

#8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

#1 Patterns

K-ESS3-1
How do birds use their beaks to eat? #2 Developing and using models


#1 Patterns

#6 Structure and Function


1-LS1-1
How do seeds move? #7 Engaging in argument from evidence
#1 Patterns

2-LS2-2
Where does my water come from? #1 Developing and using models

#1 Patterns

#4 Systems and Model Systems


2-LS4-1, 2-ESS2-2,

3-LS4-4, 3-ESS2-2

 

Can you identify our mystery snakes? #4 Analyzing and interpreting data #1 Patterns 3-LS4-2
What birds live around us?

#8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

#1 Patterns

#6 Structure and Function

3-LS4-3
Who’s eating what in Lake Tahoe?

#6 Constructing explanations (for science)

#8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

#2 Cause and effect

#5 Energy and matter


5-PS3-1, 5-LS2-1
How do feathers help birds survive? #7 Engaging in argument from evidence #6 Structure and Function
4-LS1-1
How do garter snakes eat poisonous prey? #4 Analyzing and interpreting data

#1 Patterns

#2 cause and effect

n/a
How can we protect our local mystery fish?

#4 Analyzing and interpreting data

#8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

#1 Patterns n/a