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Desert Discovery Programs

A Walk in the Desert (Preschool and Kindergarten)

Let's take an imaginary walk through the desert to discover hidden animals and plants. While meeting some of these fascinating desert dwellers, students will identify the special adaptations each has for survival in the desert environment.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals, artifacts and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 1: Inquiry Process
Concept 3: Analysis and Conclusions
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

All About Bats! (Grades 3-12)

What animal is blind, gets tangled in your hair, and is basically just a flying mouse? Whatever it is, it's not a bat. Myths about bats are plentiful, but the facts about these fascinating creatures are far more interesting. Bats are shy, gentle and hard working. A single little brown bat can catch between 600 and 1200 mosquito-sized insects in just one hour! Other bats help new plants grow. The interrelationships between bats, plants, insects and other animals are vital to the function of this, and other ecosystems. Learn the truth about bats and discover just how important these creatures really are!

Program Objectives:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Concept 2: Science and Technology in Society
Strand 4: Life Sciences
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms /Structure and Function of Living Systems
Concept 2: Life Cycles
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments/ Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem/ Interdependence of Organisms
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Arizona Rocks and Minerals

Have you ever wondered ... What's the difference between a rock and a mineral? Who needs minerals anyway? How rocks "travel" through the rock cycle? If so, then this is the program for you.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination and analysis of rock and mineral specimens, common household materials and live animals, students will be able to:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Structure and Function in Living Systems
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Interdependence of Organisms
Strand 6: Earth and Space Science
Concept 1: Properties of Earth Materials
Concept 2: Earth's Processes and Systems

Creatures of the Night

The desert is the place to be for lively night-life! From bats to kangaroo rats, meet the creatures that wake up once the sun has set. Find out about adaptations these creatures have for nocturnal living.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals, artifacts and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Desert Reptiles

From lizards to tortoises and snakes, meet the awesome reptiles of the Sonoran Desert. Compare their diverse strategies for movement, defense, and feeding. Discover their unique adaptations to desert life.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals and artifacts students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 2: Life Cycles
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Desert Waters (Grades 3-12)

Where is water more precious than in the desert? Students will visit activity stations that tell our region's water story and meet live animals to discover where our water comes from and where it goes, how surface water supports a diversity of life in our region, how these waters have changed, and what can we do to protect the vital desert waters that remain.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination and manipulation of materials and models at activity stations and interaction with live animals students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 1. Inquiry Process
Concept 1: Observations, Questions, and Hypotheses
Strand 2: History and Nature of Science
Concept 2: Nature of Scientific Knowledge
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Concept 2: Science and Technology in Society
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Drawing Desert Life (Grades 3-12)

Hone your powers of observation as you learn techniques for drawing desert plants and animals. As you sketch live animals and plants, Desert Museum educators will answer your questions about the structure and function of the features you observe, and the role of these organisms in our Sonoran Desert ecosystem.

Program Objectives:

Through the careful observation and analysis of living Sonoran Desert plants and animals, students will be able to:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Arts Standards: Articulated for 4th grade - Middle School and High School
Strand 2: RELATE
Concept 2: Materials, Tools and Techniques
Concept 4: Meanings or Purposes
Concept 5: Quality
Strand 3: EVALUATE
Concept 2: Materials, Tools, and Techniques
Concept 3: Elements and Principles
Science Standards: 4th - 8th grade
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Structure and Function in Living Systems
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation, and Behavior
Science Standards: High School
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Interdependence of Organisms
Concept 4: Biological Evolution

Exploring Adaptation (Grades 4-12)

Desert plants and animals display a fascinating variety of adaptations that help them thrive here. Take a guided tour to explore how plants deal with the temperature extremes and aridity of their desert home. Then meet some live desert animals and identify their secrets to success as desert dwellers.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of desert plants, live animals, and preserved specimens, students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Endangered and Threatened Species (Grades 4-12)

Meet some Sonoran Desert native plants and animals that are in trouble, learn about their habitat requirements and identify changes that are causing some to disappear. Find out what you can do to help.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals, artifacts, and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Concept 2: Science and Technology in Society
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Feathered Friends

Compare the feet, wings and beaks of different birds to discover their role in desert food chains. Meet live birds and find out what makes them incredibly well adapted to life in the Sonoran Desert.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of hands-on artifacts, live birds, and interactive demonstrations, students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 1: Inquiry Process
Concept 1: Observations, Questions, and Hypotheses
Concept 3: Analysis and Conclusions
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Concept 2: Science and Technology in Society
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior
Strand 5: Physical Science
Concept 1: Properties of Objects and Materials

Hunters and Hunted

Meet the carnivores of the desert and their prey. Study the skulls and body structures of these animals. Determine how predators are successful hunters, and how their prey is often able to escape!

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals, artifacts and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Plant and Animal Partners

Investigate pollination and seed dispersal to discover how plants and animals depend upon each other. Learn about the special adaptations of hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators that help them gather nectar from specific flowers. Students will meet live animals that help plants or are helped by plants.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals, artifacts and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 1: Inquiry Process
Concept 1: Observations, Questions, and Hypotheses
Concept 3: Analysis and Conclusions
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Saguaro Tales (Grades K-5)

Discover the desert plants and animals that interact with the saguaro and meet the animals that depend upon this giant for shelter and food. Learn how the saguaro and other desert plants are adapted to life in the Sonoran Desert.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of live animals, artifacts and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 2: Life Cycles
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior
Strand 6: Earth and Space Science
Concept 3: Changes in the Earth and Sky

Sonoran Supermarket (Grades 3-12)

Today, basic survival for most of us means regular trips to the supermarket. But imagine living in the Sonoran Desert five hundred years ago. Everything you needed came from right here. This program explores local resources that native peoples of the Sonoran Desert - Tohono O'odham, Yaqui, and Seri - have traditionally used for food, medicines, fibers, and more. Students will experiment with ethnobotanical materials to make their own cordage and discover foods and tools they might find in their own backyards.
(No live animals used in this program)

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of ethnobotanical materials, artifacts and interactive demonstrations students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Social Studies Standards:
Strand 1: American History
Concept 2: Early Civilizations
Concept 5: Westward Expansion
Concept 10: Contemporary U.S.
Strand 4: Geography
Concept 1: The World in Spatial Terms
Concept 2: Places and Regions
Concept 4: Human Systems
Concept 5: Environment and Society

Web of Life

Piece together an ecological "circle of life" to reveal the basic concepts of photosynthesis, food chains, food webs and energy flow. Discover the intricate nature of their interrelationships. Meet the "living links" from some desert food chains.

Program Objectives:

Through the examination of hands-on artifacts, live animals, and interactive demonstrations, students will:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior
Concept 5: Matter, Energy, and Organization in Living Systems (Including Human Systems)

Who Dung It? (Grades K-5)

Although it may be difficult to see some desert animals, they do leave many clues behind. The challenge is to figure out who left those clues. Students will become detectives to help solve the mystery of just who "dung it" in the desert. Students will identify and learn about various desert species through hands-on discoveries and live animal presentations.

Program Objectives:

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation:

Science Standards:
Strand 1. Inquiry Process
Concept 1: Observations, Questions, and Hypotheses
Concept 2: Scientific Testing (Investigating and Modeling)
Concept 3: Analysis and Conclusions
Concept 4: Communication
Strand 2: History and Nature of Science
Concept 2: Nature of Scientific Knowledge
Strand 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

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