From a gentle breeze to a gale, air is always around us, constantly on the move and impacting our lives. In this program, students will explore the ways air is used and needed by plants and animals, and how humans put wind to work.
There are stories in the clues left behind by the animals that live here at Dodge. Learn to find tracks, patterns, signs, nests and scat, then unravel the story of an animal’s adventures from your careful observations.
The ponds and wetlands of Dodge are home to a multitude of different plants and animals. Students will collect, observe and study aquatic plants and animals in their habitats in this hands-on exploration.
From their role in pollinating crops to the sweet honey they make, bees are an important part of our world. Learn more about their life cycles as you watch a beekeeper open a working hive. Then watch honey extraction and taste the sweet results.
*August and September Only
Prairies, woodlands, ponds – these are the homes to many species of birds found at the nature center. Hike, observe and identify birds in the various habitats and learn about the adaptations that help them survive.
Skeletons provide structure, protection and movement. Students will analyze bones from different animals to compare their forms and functions by dissecting sterilized owl pellets and assembling an animal skeleton. This program has an additional fee for materials.
Come back “down on the farm” as you tour our barn, chicken coop and pastures. You’ll enjoy the sights and sounds (and smells) of a small, sustainable farm as you can see and learn about farm life, farm animals and the roles they play in peoples’ lives. *Children must be at least three years old.
The most common farm animal in the world is also one of the most interesting. Get a very close look at the life cycle of chickens on our farm. Tour the coop, hold a chicken, check for eggs and see the free range flock as the roosters crow all the while.
The interaction between honey bees and apple trees in the spring allows us to enjoy the harvest of honey and apples in the fall. Students will gain an understanding of how bees act as pollinators, and how various life cycles are connected.
Grab a net and a jar and we’ll be off to see what 6-legged creatures live here at Dodge. We’ll look for eggs and larvae while learning about insects’ life cycles, find predators and prey, and catch and release a bug or two. No log shall be left unturned in this insect adventure.
The land around us is changed over time by a variety of different factors. Explore Dodge Nature Center’s Lilly Preserve to find the changes caused by glaciers, rivers, streams and people. This program takes place at Dodge’s Lilly Preserve and involves extensive hiking.
Plants and animals have developed a wide variety of strategies for dealing with the low sun, cold, snow and ice of a Minnesota winter. Learn these strategies, then hike the woods, prairies, and frozen ponds of Dodge to observe some of those strategies in action.
Investigate the lives of Minnesota’s mammals and uncover what foods they prefer to eat. Learn to classify mammals as herbivores, carnivores or omnivores by examining clues from their skulls.
Celebrate the return of spring by observing the age-old process of turning tree sap into syrup. Students will help tap a tree, collect sap, visit the evaporator and sample some delicious maple syrup. Dress for the snowy, muddy trails.
Learn about milk-producing animals on the farm and the products we make with milk. Students will meet goats, cows, and sheep, and have an opportunity to make butter and milk our demonstration cow.
What wild animals live where we are? This program will introduce students to some of Minnesota’s wildlife through hands-on experiences with artifacts and visits with live animals.
Finding your way is a skill. Practice with a compass to find direction and pacing to measure distance. Then use teamwork as small groups head outside to navigate one of our orienteering courses. Compasses are provided.
Make your own paper from recycled and natural materials. Students will compare different types of paper and paper products and learn the process of making paper by doing it themselves.
From pulleys to levers, ramps to wheels, the farm is filled with simple machines that illustrate principles of physics. Students will discover the physics used in farm machinery, tools and building design, and work together to complete farm tasks using simple tools and physics.
What does it take to make a plant thrive? Students will compare the various ways plants compete for their basic needs as well as learn about the cycles that make up many parts of how plants work. They’ll hike to see plants outdoors and take home their own plant from a cutting.
Meet one of nature’s most amazing groups of animals – raptors. See a live raptor and participate in hands-on activities to better understand the critical role these birds play in the environment.
The sun is a source of energy that humans use in direct and secondary ways. Through hands-on activities, students will be introduced to how sunlight and wind are used as renewable energies.
Discover the world of the cold-blooded creatures as students compare and contrast the reptiles and amphibians in our live animal collection. Students will be able to observe and interact with many native species in this hands-on adventure.
Each season is unique and brings many changes to the land as well as the plants and animals living there. In this program students will explore the prairies, ponds, and forests of Dodge using their five senses to find the best of what each season has to offer.
Participants will learn about our location in the solar system and discover the stories behind constellations we will view in a portable starlab. This class is designed for either day or night programs, regardless of the weather.
Get the “scoop” on soils. Examine the living and non-living components of the soil in some hands-on activities. Learn about the importance and different types of soil as we collect and compare soil samples from the prairie, forest, and wetlands of the nature center.
Sound surrounds us every day and is an important way for people and animals to gather information about what is happening around us. Learn to identify the sounds found in nature and their patterns.
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Students will be looking for both as they learn what trees need to grow. They’ll use their senses to explore and discover similarities and differences in the leaves, bark, branches and seeds of the trees of Dodge’s woods.
Water is the basis of all life on earth. The quality of water in ponds, lakes, and streams has an impact on our health. Students will examine samples of water from around the DNC grounds and draw conclusions about how water quality is impacted by activities in and around the property.
What does it take to survive in the wild? This class gives students insight into how the environment has an impact in a survival situation. Students will be introduced to the skills of fire-building and survival shelter construction. Do you have what it takes to build a shelter and a one-match fire?
Being outdoors in a Minnesota winter can be cold, snowy and challenging for plants, animals, and people. Inventions, both old and new, allow us to explore the winter landscape. We’ll predict and record temperatures in the air, under the snow, and under the ice as well as cut through the ice and snow