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Programs for Middle School (6th-8th Grade) groups

More than 1100 groups of area children and scouts come to the Tenafly Nature Center each year. With their boundless curiosity, they touch, observe and listen to the natural world. This year you can join our professional educators as they bring classroom concepts to life and lead your students in hands-on learning and close observations in our 380-acre living museum.

Our programs are designed to help educators meet some of the Next Generation Science Standards and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, and have been developed for students in 6th-8th grades.

If a subject of interest to you does not appear below, please contact the Education Director for more information on how we can design programs to reinforce your curriculum.

Field Trips for 6th-8th Grade Groups

6th-8th Grade Field Trip Pricing

   Half Day
 (1 program)
 Full Day
 (2 programs)
 Up to 20 students  $140  $240 
 Up to 25 students   $175  $300
 Up to 30 students   $210  $360
  • There is no additional charge for teachers and aides.
  • Maximum 1st-12th grade group size is 30 children per TNC educator.
  • A maximum of 120 students can be accommodated at TNC at one time. Larger groups can be divided between morning and afternoon, or scheduled over several days.
  • Programs require one teacher per class and one adult chaperone per five students who may attend for free. 
  • In order to obtain adequate staff, advance notice of additional students and adults is required. We reserve the right to limit the number of non-registered participants on the trail to the number originally registered on the confirmation form.
  • Please separate 1st-12th grade students into groups of 30 max (or one class) prior to arrival.
  • If your funds are limited, please consider applying for a scholarship (we strive to make nature accessible to everyone).

Current Field Trip Programs (All programs are 1.5-2 hours):

 Sample Schedule  Half Day
 9:15 am   Groups arrive at TNC
 9:30 am-11:00 am  Program Option #1 (ex. Animal Adaptations)
 11:00 am-11:45 am  Lunch Time in reserved space
 11:45 am  Group departs TNC
   
 Sample Schedule  Full Day
 9:15 am  Groups arrive at TNC
 9:30 am-11:00 am  Program Option #1 (ex. Animal Adaptations)
 11:00 am-11:45 am  Lunch Time in reserved space
 11:45 am-1:15 am  Program Option #2 (ex. Pond Ecology)
 1:15 pm  Group departs TNC


F
ield Trips Add-Ons

  1. Butterfly House (30 min.)
    (open Memorial Day-October)

    Come visit our new 12 x 24' butterfly house filled with native butterflies. This add-on offers visitors a total immersion experience as it introduces students to the wonders of metamorphosis.

    Fee: $1 per person

  2. Self-guided Seasonal Walk
    (all year)

    Grab a trail map and guide your students on one of our trails.

    Fee: Free
    1. Forest Ecology
      Students explore the local forest to learn about the ecology of the plants and animals that live there. Learning to deduce the history of a woodland by “reading the landscape”, students uncover some of the differences between deciduous and coniferous forests by field-testing forest plots, studying the flora and fauna, and making field observations. Students will discover the cultural and natural history of plants, particularly trees, as we examine a tree’s life stages, following it’s growth from seed to maturity, finally, to decomposition.

    2. Group Challenges
      Through problem-solving challenges and group work, this program will help your class recognize their strengths and practice their listening skills. Using their physical and mental abilities, students will learn how to communicate effectively with each other and cultivate cooperative skills.

    3. Map & Compass: Compass Course
      Students learn the different parts of a compass, and how to use it to locate directions. After they learn about pacing classes will apply this knowledge outdoors on the trails on a pre-set course that runs students through different combinations of paces and degrees. 

    4. Map & Compass: Orienteering (Map Reading)
      Students are instructed in map reading and wayfinding techniques as they learn about orienteering, a competitive international sport that combines racing with navigation. It is a timed race in which individual participants use a specially created, highly detailed map to select routes and navigate through diverse and often unfamiliar terrain. Classes will apply this knowledge outdoors on the trails as they use their map-reading skills to follow pre-set courses to find control points in sequence hidden outdoors.

    5. Outdoor Survival
      If your students were lost in the woods, would they know what to do? We will teach them to prepare for survival outdoors, using the “rules of three”. Students will have to cooperate and exercise group skills to construct a survival shelter.

    6. Pond Ecology (late April through early October)
      Using a variety of tools (dip nets, magnifiers, etc.) students will discover aquatic ecosystems and food chains participating in hands-on pond exploration. They will study diversity, adaptations and interrelationships among the organisms they find in the water, and will discuss how human activity impacts aquatic habitats. 

    7. Seasonal Discovery (Fall/Winter/Spring)
      Students will explore the wonders each season brings to the forest. On a walk along the trails, your class will learn to observe and record temperature, weather, and wind direction. They will learn how each of these measurements, as well as plants and animals, respond to seasonal changes! Your students can bring this knowledge back to the classroom to make their own observations! 

    8. Soil Ecology
      Students discover that dirt is an important part of our natural life as they “dig-in” to an in-depth study of soil. Your class will delve into the world of the earth’s top-most layer and learn to identify the components of soil. Using samples from the Nature Center, students will compare different types of dirt and discover that soil is a habitat that supports many forms of life. 

    9. Water, Water Everywhere
      Students help perform demonstrations, experiments and activities as your class is introduced to water molecules and the concepts of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration, freezing, surface tension. They will learn how plants and animals recycle water and how some animals live in and on the water. During a guided hike along the Nature Center trails students will play a game are designed to help explain how water is vital to all life forms.

    10. Web of Life
      Students will discover how energy flows from the sun through the food web. They will search for living examples of producers, consumers and decomposers in a variety of habitats. Your class will discuss the concept of food chains, population dynamics, adaptation and change. Activities include a comparison of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores by examining skullsgames to highlight predator and prey relationships and an interpretive hike.

    Accessibility at TNC

    Many of the programs Tenafly Nature Center offers can be altered to accommodate participants with special needs. We ask that you disclose pertinent information with a minimum of two weeks notice about any students that have any special needs (particular educational requirements resulting from learning difficulties, physical disability, or emotional and behavioral difficulties). This information enables us to make the necessary accommodations needed to meet the needs of your group.

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    Gifted & Talented Programs for 6th-8th Grade Groups

    Whether you have an entire class of students who are academically gifted and talented or you have a smaller group of students brought together to cover curriculum as the schedule allows, we have programs developed to meet both needs. The following programs were developed with the G&T program in mind.

    6th-8th Grade Gifted & Talented Pricing

       1-Full Day  2-Full Day
    6-week course 8-week course
     Up to 15 students  $300  $600  $1,175  $1,550
     Up to 25 students   $400  $800  $1,975  $2,650
     Up to 30 students   $480  $960  n/a  $2,650
    • There is no additional charge for teachers and aides.
    • Maximum 6th-8th grade G&T group size is 15 children per TNC educator.
    • A maximum of 30 students can be accommodated at TNC at one time. Larger groups can be divided between morning and afternoon, or scheduled over several days.
    • Programs require one teacher per class and one adult chaperone per ten students who may attend for free. 
    • In order to obtain adequate staff, advance notice of additional students and adults is required. We reserve the right to limit the number of non-registered participants on the trail to the number originally registered on the confirmation form.
    • Please separate  6th-8th grade G&T students into groups of 15 max (or one class) prior to arrival.
    • If your funds are limited, please consider applying for a scholarship (we strive to make nature accessible to everyone).

     Sample Schedule  Full Day
     9:15 am  Groups arrive at TNC
     9:30 am-11:00 am  Program Option #1 (ex. Animal Adaptations)
     11:00 am-11:45 am  Lunch Time in reserved space
     11:45 am-1:15 am  Program Option #2 (ex. Pond Ecology)
     1:15 pm  Group departs TNC

    1. Wayfinding Techniques (1-Full Day intensive course at Tenafly Nature Center)
      During this one day course students learn how a compass and map can be useful tools to find your way in the woods and what other wayfinding techniques an help them in everyday activities. After they learn basic compass skills students will apply this knowledge outdoors on the trails on a pre-set course that combines racing with navigation. It is a timed race in which individual participants use a specially created, highly detailed map to select routes and navigate through diverse and often unfamiliar terrain to find control points in sequence hidden outdoors.

    2. Survivor! (2-Full Day intensive course at Tenafly Nature Center)
      Loosely based on The Hunger Games series, this two-day program enables students to explore their surroundings while gaining survival skills. During this 2-full day course students will prepare snares, discover shelter building techniques, practice cooking outdoors, learn how to tie knots, identify edible plants, determine how to use a GPS unit to find their way, locate fresh water and learn how to purify it for drinking purposes.

    3. Macro to Micro: The Ecology of a Pond (6-8 week course at your school and Tenafly Nature Center)
      Discover the intricate world of this aquatic ecosystem. Students explore the characteristics and adaptations of inhabitants found in a pond environment. Starting with the smallest organisms and working your way up you will get an up close perspective of life under the surface. Weekly topics include:
        • 6-week series at your school (44 minute class each)
          Watershed and parts of a pond
          Photosynthetic pond organisms part 1
          Arthropods of the pond part 1
          Water chemistry & quality assessments
          Photosynthetic pond organisms part 2
          Arthropods of the pond part 2 (optional)
        • 2-week field course series continuation at the Tenafly Nature Center (90-minute each)
          Pond study
          Vernal pond study (optional)
      1. Seed to Plant (8 week course at your school and Tenafly Nature Center)
        Get your hands dirty and dig into the field of botany! Discover and identify plants as we explore growth, defense and niches of various local and global species. Outdoor excursions will give us a chance to put our knowledge into practice and support local ecosystems. Weekly topics include:
        • 6-week series at your school (44 minute class each)
          Intro to plant (parts,functions, geologic timeline, taxonomic relationships)
          Trees vs. herbaceous
          Plant propagation
          Plant defenses and mutualistic symbiosis
          Dichotomous keys
          Backyard habitats
        • 2-week field course series continuation at the Tenafly Nature Center (90-minute each)
          Invasive vs. native species
          Wildflower and plan ID


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        TNC to Go for 6th-8th Grade Groups

        TNC to Go programs are designed to be taught at your location, however you can also schedule a field trip to Tenafly Nature Center to participate in these same experiences.

        TNC to Go Pricing

         60-Minute Individual Class

         (<30 students)

         90-Minute Individual Class

         (<30 students)

          60-Minute Assembly

         (>30 students)

         1st Program (NJ & NY)  $200  $225  $350
         1st Program (NYC boroughs)  $325*  $350*  $475*
         Consecutive Programs  $125  $150  $300
        • There is no additional charge for teachers and aides.
        • *Additional fee is included to the First program fee for all New York City boroughs visits to cover NYC permit requirements.
        • A mileage charge of the current IRS rate per mile round trip is added to the program fee if the location is outside of Tenafly.
        • One parking space must be provided near the entrance of your location (if no parking is available at your site then a fee will be added to cover any associated garage fees).
        • Consecutive programs are programs held one right after another, for different classes, in the same school with no more than a 60 minute break between two of the programs.
        • Classes with more than 30 students will be charged the assembly fees. An assembly program is one program, held for multiple classes, in one location, and at one time.
        • If your funds are limited, please consider applying for a scholarship (we strive to make nature accessible to everyone).

          Current TNC To Go Programs (All programs are 60-90 minutes):

          1. Creatures of the Night
            Do you know if you are nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular? Join educators from the Tenafly Nature Center and find out! Through live animal demonstrations, learn about local species that inhabit the dark. From owls to opossums, learn about the amazing adaptations creatures posses to roam the nighttime landscape.

          2. Endangered NJ
            Learn about the major factors that threaten animals with endangerment and extinction worldwide. Through use of artifacts and live animals, participants will learn the status of select native New Jersey fauna. Activities are designed to raise awareness of New Jersey’s over 60 endangered species, and inspire participants to practice how they can help prevent threats to local wildlife.

          3. Heavenly Herps
            “Herps” (reptiles and amphibians) are among the most under-appreciated and misunderstood species of the animal world. This program will introduce students to live snakes, frogs, salamanders and turtles and highlight the characteristics which distinguish between reptiles and amphibians.

          4. Oogling Owls
            Students learn how these nocturnal raptors have adapted to night flight, as they observe our live resident owl. Your class will learn about NJ’s owls’ status by discussing the pros and cons of human interactions with these powerful and efficient predators.

          5. Rapp’n with Raptors

            Students will observe several live raptors up close and learn about their behavior, physiology, adaptations, ecological importance and natural history. Hands-on artifacts and demonstrations will capture the imagination of young and old.

          6. The World Beneath Our Feet
            A hole in the ground is always mysterious as it invites curiosity and wonder. Learn about the creatures that live underground as we shed some light on the mysteries under our feet. Discover what other unseen organisms might share this world and how they affect our lives from below.
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