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School Safaris

School Safaris

Journey out into the field for an unforgettable hands-on learning experience. The Virginia Living Museum’s science safaris give students an exciting combination of in-class laboratory instruction and hands-on topical field study.

Developed under a Virginia Environmental Endowment grant as model programs for high school students, the Museum’s science safaris are combined laboratory and field classes that stress field study, experimentation, data collection and analysis. After an introduction to the day’s topic, students will leave the classroom behind to become immersed in a first-hand learning experience in the natural world.

Length of Session: 6 to 12+ hours (varies with topic)
Number of Students: Maximum of 25
Fees for Contract Schools: Please call for information
Fees for non-contract schools: $30 per student ($660 minimum per program) Cave Ecology $35 per student, $700 minimum.

Fuel surcharge may apply.

Safaris are field study programs. They do not include a self-guided visit to the Museum’s exhibits. Follow the suggested procedures for reserving a science safari.

For more information or to make a reservation, call the Reservations Coordinator at 757-595-9135 Monday-Friday, 9am – 4:30pm or complete the online request form.

Funded in part by BayPort Credit Union.

Cave Ecology

Grades 7-12
Science SOLs LS.6 LS.8 LS.10 LS.11 ES.1 ES.2 ES.7 ES.8 BIO.1 BIO.4 BIO.8


Descend into the fascinating world of twilight zones and troglobites while exploring wild caves in western Virginia. Learn the geology of cave formation and growth by examining soda straws, popcorn and other dripstone formations. Search for bats, salamanders and other cave animals and discover their unusual adaptations for survival in this unique ecosystem. (Note: This is a strenuous trip. Participants must be able to walk easily without assistance on uneven ground including some steep slopes.)

Chesapeake Bay Ecology, a “Meaningful Watershed Experience” Program

Grades 6-12
Science SOLs 6.1 6.3 6.5 6.7 6.9 LS.4 LS.6 LS.8 LS.9 LS.10 LS.11 BIO.1 BIO.4 BIO.6 BIO.8

Seining in shallow off-shore water and dip-netting in a salt marsh are just two of the day’s many activities as students learn first-hand about the biology and ecology of the Bay. One of the last natural shorelines in our region provides the stage for collection and classification of a rich diversity of plants and animals. Assessment of increasing human impact and the need for wetland preservation are areas of special emphasis.

Estuarine Ecology, a “Meaningful Watershed Experience” Program

Grades 7-12
Science SOLs LS.4 LS.6 LS.8 LS.9 LS.10 LS.11 BIO.1 BIO.4 BIO.6 BIO.8

Board canoes for an exciting on-the-water study of a local estuarine ecosystem. From their floating laboratory, students monitor salinity and other physical factors that affect the survival of creatures in the Chesapeake Bay. Students learn first-hand about the importance of this productive ecosystem by observing killifish, blue crabs, grass shrimp and other organisms in their natural habitat.

school-safari-2Freshwater Aquatics

Grades 7-12
Science SOLs LS.4 LS.6 LS.8 LS.9 LS.11 BIO.1 BIO.4 BIO.6 BIO.8 CH.1

Travel by canoe through a freshwater ecosystem teeming with aquatic life from duckweed and water lily to bass and beaver. Determine the primary productivity of this rich pond community through dissolved oxygen studies and investigate the pond’s successional stage. Students analyze collected data to identify natural and man-induced factors that lead to eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems.


Grades 6-12
Science SOLs LS.4 LS.8 LS.13 ES.1 ES.2 ES.9 BIO.4 BIO.6 BIO.7 BIO.8

Journey millions of years back in time in search of fossils that reveal Virginia’s prehistoric past. Dig into fossil sands to uncover abundant marine organisms that can include star coral, Jefferson’s scallops, whalebone and shark teeth. Students collect, identify and analyze fossils to reveal the history of an ancient ocean environment that once existed in what is now Virginia’s Coastal Plain region.

Outreach/Safaris (pdf)