School Stay-trips

If I work in a district where I am unable to take my kids on plenty of field trips, what are some alternatives or activities that could be done on school grounds, but that are still fun and eye-opening for students?
– B., Arkansas

Budgets, locations, and policies can all curtail your ability to take students out of school. Here are a few things that you could try:

On school grounds

  • Gardening: Apply for grants or contact local nurseries to help build raised beds or a greenhouse.
  • Video: Write, direct, and record urban wildlife short films.
  • Ecological studies: Conduct transects and make quadrats out of bendy straws. Drop them around the grounds and do species counts, biomass estimates, distribution maps.
  • Species counts: Have students research what they find and their ecological roles.
  • Soil analysis: Look for soil invertebrates. Do a chemical analysis and create a recommendation report for the principal.
  •  “Campfire science:” Teach stoichiometry by making s’mores in a self-contained fire pit or on a grill. (Be sure to follow proper safety protocols and check with the principal, first!)

Bring it inside

  • Visiting scientists: Many organizations have travelling shows and presenters.
  • Terrariums: Start up colonies of harmless invertebrates like crickets, sowbugs, and earthworms.
  • Bottle ecosystems: Search the NSTA Learning Center ( and check out my collection:
  • Pond water aquarium: Collect water, invertebrates, and plants from a local pond.
  • Plants: Grow plants from seed and monitor over the term.


  • Webcams: Many websites have nature cams.
  • Videoconferencing: Several organizations will connect your class with scientists.
  • Sister schools: Run concurrent experiments and exchange data via video, wikis, or shared drives.

Hope this helps!

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