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.

  • How do birds use their beaks to eat? (grade: 1)
    • Observe specimens of several local bird species then use different tools that mimic different beak shapes to discover what foods the birds eat.
  • How do seeds move? (grade: 2)
    • Compare seeds from local plant species, make observations, and predict how the seeds might be dispersed.
  • Where does my water come from? (grades: 2-3)
    • Build a paper model of a watershed and make predictions about where water goes before exploring a large scale model of our Lake Tahoe and Truckee River watershed and discussing how water moves in our watershed.
  • Can you identify our mystery snakes? (grade: 3)
    • Meet live non-venomous snakes from Nevada, then make observations and take measurements to identify the different species using a dichotomous key. 
  • Who’s eating what in Lake Tahoe? (grades: 4-5)
    • Use historic accounts and pictures from Lake Tahoe along with aquatic specimens to recreate the Lake Tahoe food web from 4 different time periods. Learn about the importance of museum specimens to scientists.
  • How do feathers help birds survive? (grade: 4)
    • Observe different characteristics of feathers and take measurements to determine how different feathers function to help birds survive.
  • How do garter snakes eat poisonous prey? (grades: 6-12)
    • Take speed measurements for different garter snakes to help researchers at our University and discuss how some populations are able to eat toxic newts.
  • How can we protect our local mystery fish? (grades: 6-12)
    • Students compare traits of different populations of fish to determine which is most closely related to the extinct morph of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout native to the Truckee River watershed, then decide which to re-introduce back into our watershed. 

Other lab topics can be created and performed by request.

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
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
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