School Programs

The Watershed Institute offers programs aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards as well as traditional inquiry and nature discovery programs. Embrace scientific inquiry and discovery on our 950-acre Watershed Reserve and in the LEED Platinum-certified Watershed Center.

Full-Day and Multi-Day NGSS Programs

The Watershed Institute has rolled out new educational curricula — available for immediate use — based on the new science standards adopted in New Jersey and other states. The new standards are designed to improve science education for all students. Students work and think like scientists who are engaged in the three dimensions of science learning – science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas.

Our NGSS school programs were developed and piloted in partnership with the Hopewell Valley School District. Our programs promote critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. The topics range from examining human impacts on the environment and constructing scientific models, to finding and engineering solutions to real-world problems. We are available for consultation, with years of experience teaching these and other programs to elementary, middle and high school classes.

NGSS programs are available immediately, with additional course selections being developed. We also offer our traditional, nature-based favorites for schools. We invite your inquiries about partnerships.

Book your school trip to the Watershed Reserve by completing the form below, or by contacting Anna Hill, Education Manager:
[email protected] or 609.737.3735 ext. 42.

Grade K 1/2 Day Program

Natural Connections

K-ESS3-1. Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.

Class Description
Grade 1 Full Day Program

Nature’s Copycats

1-LS1-1. Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

Class Description
Grade 2 Full Day Program

Erosion Erasers

2-ESS2-1. Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.

Class Description
Grade 3 Full Day Program

Habitat Survivors

3-LS4-3. Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Class Description
Grade 4 Full Day Program

Stormwater Solutions

4-ESS3-2. Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Class Description
Grade 5 Full Day Program

Eco Spheres

5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Class Description
Middle School Grades Long-Term Project

Build A Better School

MS-LS2-5 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

MS-ESS3-3 Earth and Human Activity

MS-ETS1-1 Engineering Design

Class Description
Middle School Grades Full Day Program

Dam Engineers

MS-LS-2.4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

MS-ESS3.3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment

MS-LS2.5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

MS-ETS1.1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relative scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

MS-ETS1.2 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Class Description
Grades 1-8 1/2 Day Program

Monarchs and Migration

Why do some animals migrate? Can a butterfly really fly all the way to Mexico? Learn about monarch migration and conservation efforts. Available in September only.

PreK-K 1/2 Day Program

Butterfly Magic

Enjoy a butterfly story, song and craft as we learn about these amazing creatures! Step into the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House for a peek at butterfly magic. Available May-September.

PreK-Grade 12 1/2 Day Program

Animals and Habitats

Students discover different habitats and evidence of a variety of animals at the Watershed Reserve. They will investigate how animals meet their basic needs, including where they live and what they eat. Students will learn how to identify animal tracks, feathers, fur, scat and other signs left by local wildlife. Available year-round.

PreK-Grade 2 1/2 Day Program

Discover the Season

Explore the magic that each season brings to our fields and forests. The students learn about the science of leaves changing color, animal migration and hibernation, springtime’s rebirth and summer’s wonders. Students do a discovery walk and make a large classroom mural based on their observations. Available year-round.

Grades 4-8 1/2 Day Program

The Migration Challenge

Become a bird and try to migrate to your new home … but watch out for power lines, jets and bad weather! Travel on the Watershed Reserve trails in an imaginary migration route where each individual meets with perils and pitfalls. Learn about New Jersey’s importance in the annual avian migration.

Grades 1-6 1/2 Day Program

The Food Web

Children will learn how the sun’s energy vitalizes the food web, how life is interconnected and explore examples of food chains in our outdoor classrooms. The students will explore predator and prey relationships through games and during an interpretive hike. Available year-round.

Grades K-12 1/2 Day Program

Insect Safari

During our safari we will explore some of the myths, mysteries and crucial importance of our insect neighbors. The program includes games, a hike and an insect search. Secondary students will learn about human attempts to control insect populations and the effects of those efforts upon the environment.  Available mid-May through early October.

Grades K-12 1/2 Day Program

Maple Sugaring

Discover the magic and science of one of nature’s most tasty treats – maple syrup! Learn how the trees are tapped and take part in a maple syrup taste test. Available only in February and March.

Grades PreK-1 1/2 Day Program

Meet the Critters

Children will meet the animals in our Discovery Room and use their senses to learn more about nature before they venture out on a short hike.

PreK-Grade 3 1/2 Day Program

Native American Lifestyles & Lore

What did Native American children do for fun? Take a hike through the forest, tell stories and play some Native American game. Children will also examine plants and tools used by Native Americans. Then we all join in a sharing circle to find out more about the lives of Native Americans.

Grades 4-6 1/2 Day Program

Did Leni Lenape use STEM?

Students will have a brief review of Native American culture and then collaborate to solve problems using primitive technologies. In small groups, students will use critical thinking to design and produce tools and household objects with materials that were available to the Lenape.

Grades 4-12 1/2 Day Program


Would your class survive if it were lost in the wilderness for a night? Through group exploration and discussion, students will discover the basics of securing shelter, water, and food in the woods. Students will collaborate to build their own shelters from woodland materials.

Grades K-6 1/2 Day Program


Unravel the mysteries of trees. Become a part of a tree and find out how trees work as we explore tree life processes and products. Upper elementary students will use forestry tools to measure the trees and determine the approximate age.

Grades 1-8 1/2 Day Program

Beautiful Butterflies

Discover the world of butterflies, how they grow and mature, their habitat and other wonders.

Grades 1-12 Full Day Program

Exploring a Pond

Students use a variety of tools to learn about life in and around our Wargo Pond. They will explore the relationships between various animals as well as the impact of human activities on aquatic life. Students in Grades 5 and up will view pond life with our microscopes. Available mid-April through early October.

Grades 5-12 Full Day Program

How Clean is Your Stream

Students will examine stream life and discuss relationships between the various inhabitants as well as the effect of humans on their environment. Students will determine the stream’s environmental health through visual assessment, chemical testing, and biological monitoring. They will also discuss various conservation measures. Available from mid-April to early October.

PreK-Grade 1 1 Hour

Nature’s Winter World

Learn about the lives of animals in winter through stories and puppets. Discover how different animals survive the challenges of winter by meeting a variety of creatures, including a groundhog, a skunk, a bird, and an insect (all puppets) as well as a live turtle. Available December – February.

PreK-Grade 2 1 Hour

Reptiles Are Fun

Children are introduced to reptiles through a story and a lesson about how they live and survive in the wild. This includes a visit by some live reptiles. Available December-February.

Grades 2-6 1 Hour

Insects All Around

Are there really bugs in my candy? Discover the uses of insect products in our everyday lives. Explore some of the myths, mysteries, and importance of our insect neighbors.

Grades K-4 1 Hour

Native American Animal Tales

Why does a vulture have a bald head and why is a possum’s tail like a rope? Students will become involved in the story of turtle, fox, and spider and will discover some fun facts about animals in this creative-theater program. The story, based on a legend from the Muskogee Creek tribe (original residents of the American southeast, particularly Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina) will be followed by an animal slideshow.

Grades 5-12 1 Hour

Downstream: A Watershed Game

Bring our Teacher-Naturalists to your school! This play-oriented, outdoor activity shows various factors that affect water quality as a stream moves through the landscape. After an introduction, the students will roll a giant die and then imagine their travels downstream on one of three waterways (rural, suburban, and urban). As they flow through the landscape, they will encounter natural and human elements that alter their water quality. The action concludes with all participants flowing into the same lake. Students will examine how the landscape influences water quality and will also discuss and explore strategies for maintaining and improving water quality. Available year round, requires a large, open area (inside or outside).

In-Class Programs

Bring the fun of a Watershed program to your school. Imagine the excitement when our professional educators present a program right in your facility. We can also run these programs at our Watershed Center.

Small Group Programs for up to 30 students: $150 for the first hour (1 hour minimum), $75 for each additional hour. Additional mileage fees for locations more than 30 miles from Pennington.

    • Nature’s Winter World
    • Reptiles Are Fun

Assembly Programs for up to 250 students: $250 for the first program, $150 for additional program on the same day.

    • Insects All Around
    • Native American Animal Tales

Interactive Program: $350 for the first hours,  $150 for each additional hour on the same day.

    • Downstream: A Watershed Game

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