Desert Discovery Programs

PreK & K: A Walk in the Desert

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.

Additional Resources

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

Grade 1: Plantastic

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 is adapted to life in the Sonoran Desert. Investigate pollination and seed dispersal to discover how the saguaro and other plants depend upon animals, and vice versa. Students will meet live animals that help the saguaro or are helped by the saguaro.

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

Grade 2: Arthro-Party

Introduce students to the incredible diversity of Sonoran Desert insects, spiders, and other fascinating arthropods. Examine live animals and preserved specimens to learn about anatomy and adaptations. Determine the important roles of various arthropods in desert food chains, pollination, and our ecosystem.

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 2: Life Cycles
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior

Grades 3 & 4: Adaptation Station or Sonoran Supermarket

Adaptation Station

Desert plants and animals display a fascinating variety of adaptations that help them thrive here. Examine desert plants’ structures to reveal how they deal with the temperature extremes and aridity of this environment. Then meet some live desert animals and identify their secrets to success as desert dwellers.

Teacher Resources

Program Objectives:

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

This Program is 60 minutes long and offered only at the Museum.

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 4: Life Science
Concept 1: Structure and Function in Living Systems
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Populations of Organisms in an Ecosystem
Interdependence of Organisms
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior
Biological Evolution

Sonoran Supermarket

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)

Additional Resources

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

Grade 5: 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!

Additional Resources

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

Grades 6-12: Diversity of Life, Creatures of Habitats and Saving the Naturehood

Diversity of Life

Ask most people to describe a “desert” and you’ll likely hear words like dry, hot, and dusty. The Sonoran Desert defies stereotypes with a great variety of plants, animals and ecosystems. Learn why our desert is so diverse and why diversity is good for us, then meet a few of the animals that live in our diverse naturehood!

Program Objectives (coming soon)

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation (coming soon)


Creatures of Habitats

Did you know that the Sonoran Desert Region contains examples of nearly all the terrestrial biomes on the planet? Take a visual tour of some of the biological communities within a day’s drive of your school, meet some of the animals and plants that live there, and learn about their special adaptations to their varied environments.

Program Objectives (coming soon)

Arizona Academic Standards Correlation (coming soon)


Saving the Naturehood

This program will introduce you to some of the threats facing Sonoran Desert region ecosystems, including invasive species, habitat conversion and climate change. You’ll meet desert animals that are endangered or threatened in the wild and learn about what people are doing to protect them.

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

Registration Information & Form