Programs

Sixth through Eighth Grade Field Trips

Content Detail

Guided adventures are available during the spring and fall school seasons.

  • Available during the spring and fall school seasons for grades pre-K through 12th grade.
  • Most sixth- through eighth-grade guided programs are 1.5 hours.
  • Morning programs are scheduled Monday through Friday, 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Afternoon programs are scheduled Monday through Friday, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
  • For a full-day option, pair two half-day programs together.

Visit Plan Your Field Trip to help you and your classroom prepare.

To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

Plant Structural Adaptations

1.5 hours | 180 students

Explore the structural adaptations of plants that help them survive in different ecosystems. Use scientific instruments to examine in-depth how abiotic factors influence the life cycles and characteristics of plants. Compare and contrast plants in two ecosystems to determine similarities and differences in how plants adapt seed, root, and leaf structures in each habitat. For a full-day experience, add a lab or another field program to this booking.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS2-1: Ecosystem resources and their influence on organism populations
    • MS-LS2-2: Patterns of interactions between organisms across ecosystems
    • MS-LS2-4: Physical and biological changes, and their impact on organisms’ populations

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Woodland Ecosystem Study

1.5 hours | 180 students

Uncover the inner workings of the woodland. Learn how this seemingly static environment is ever-changing. Explore the layers of the forest and discover the interdependence of the plants and animals that live there. Take a closer look at tree parts, investigate the life cycle of a tree from seed to soil, and identify some common Illinois trees. It is recommended that students learn the vocabulary for this program before attending the field trip.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS2-1: Ecosystem resources and their influence on organism populations
    • MS-LS2-3: Flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem
    • MS-LS1-6: Role of photosynthesis
    • MS-LS2-4: Physical and biological changes, and their impact on organisms’ populations

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Restoration Stewards

1.5 hours | 40 students

Help us with natural areas management and conservation work at The Morton Arboretum. Education guides will lead your group of students as they conduct an educational service project in restoration. This is a great opportunity for Ecology Clubs. Activities can include pulling invasive plants, collecting seeds, hiking off of a trail and in heavily vegetated areas, and more. Students learn about ecological restoration while doing restoration.

  • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Leave No Child Inside

1.5 hours | 180 students

A growing body of research says that unstructured time spent outdoors in nature is critical to children's physical, social, and emotional development. Such outdoor experiences can foster creativity, emotional well-being, independent learning, and problem-solving. The beauty of the Arboretum changes daily, and your students will have an opportunity to explore whatever is most interesting on the day of your visit. One of our guides will be on hand to answer questions and guide students to exciting questions and observations, but the focus is on free exploration of nature.

  • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Prairie Ecosystem Study (fall only)

1.5 hours | 180 students

Explore the Arboretum's Schulenberg Prairie as you participate in hands-on activities. Students will discover the history of the early Illinois settlers as they examine the unique biodiversity of this ecosystem. Students explore the abiotic factors of the prairie and connect them to the adaptations of the plants and animals living here. For a full-day experience, add the Botany Lab or Prairie Lab to this program.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS1-4: Specialized plant structures
    • MS-LS1-5: Environmental and genetic influence on growth
    • MS-LS2-1: Resource availability in ecosystems

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Prairie Ecosystem Study and Lab (fall only, full-day)

3.0 hours | 180 students

Enhance your Prairie Ecosystem Study experience by adding the Prairie Lab program. In this lab, students explore up-close the adaptations of prairie plants and animals they discovered in the field.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS1-4: Plant structure and reproduction
    • MS-LS1-5 & MS-LS2-1: Adaptations to abiotic factors in an ecosystem

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Full day (paired with a field program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Trees and Climate

1.5 hours | 180 students

Trees are at the center of the fight against climate change. Explore the natural processes that scrub the air and what students like you can do to help. Students will examine energy cycles, the chemical reactions in plants, and calculate the carbon storage in trees. This is a half-day program but can be booked as a full-day option when paired with another field program or a lab program.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-ESS2-4: Describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by sun energy & and force of gravity.
    • MS-ESS3-5: Clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • MS-ESS3-3: Examine human environmental impacts, assess solutions in minimizing human impact.
    • MS-LS1-6: Explain the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy in and out of organisms.
    • MS-LS1-7: Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions, forming new molecules that support growth and release energy as this matter moves through an organism.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Eco-Comparisons (full-day)

3.0 hours | 180 students

Spend a full day in the Arboretum’s woodland and prairie ecosystems comparing and contrasting the plants and animals found in two different ecosystems. Learn to use scientific instruments to measure a variety of abiotic factors (temperature, wind, light) to determine why different plants and animals are found in different ecosystems. Work as a team to collect and compare observations.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS1-6: Photosynthesis and energy flow
    • MS-LS2-1: Resource availability
    • MS-LS2-2: Interactions across ecosystems
    • MS-LS2-3: Energy flow
    • MS-LS2-4: Physical and biological components affect populations

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Full day (paired with a field program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Aquatic Ecosystem Study and Lab (full-day, spring only)

3.0 hours | 140 students

Explore one of The Morton Arboretum’s most unique and diverse ecosystems. In this full-day field and lab program, students collect and interpret data to determine ecosystem health. Students will “dig deep” into soil sample analysis and water chemistry testing to interpret the abiotic factors of this ecosystem. In the lab, students will examine macro-invertebrates (water bugs), and aquatic vegetation up-close using our iPad microscopes. Data in the lab is collected using Google Drive and shared with the school after the trip, for further analysis.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS1-1:Organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
    • MS-LS2-5:Maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
    • MS-LS2-3: Flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Full day (paired with a field program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Botany Lab

1.5 hours, must be paired with a field program | 180 students

Enhance your experience at the Arboretum by combining Cycles and Solutions, Woodland Ecosystem Study, No Child Left Inside, Prairie Ecosystem Study, or Trees, Humans, and Climate with the Botany Lab program. Students will gain a deeper understanding of plant anatomy through the examination and dissection of seeds, flowers, roots, and leaves. This lab program must be paired with a field experience as part of a full-day field trip.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS1-4: Plant adaptations & reproduction

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Full day (paired with a field program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Tree Lab

1.5 hours, must be paired with a field program | 140 students

Enhance your experience at the Arboretum by combining Cycles and Solutions, Woodland Ecosystem Study, No Child Left Inside, Prairie Ecosystem Study, or Trees, Humans, and Climate with the Tree Lab program. Students will uncover a tree’s anatomy and unique adaptations. In addition, they will identify the environmental stresses and pressures that these unique and powerful producers overcome to survive. This lab program must be paired with a field experience as part of a full-day field trip.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS1-6: Photosynthesis and flow of energy
    • MS-ESS3-3: Human impact on the environment

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Full day (paired with a field program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Self-guided adventures are available year-round and can be scheduled Monday through Friday during open hours.

To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

Magnolia Collection

Self-paced | 180 students

Located on the West Side of the Arboretum, sits a living seed bank of some of the world's oldest plants—magnolias. These trees are beautiful all year long. Walk with your students through this new path with interpretation focused on the family history of magnolias, breeding and hybridization, and the unique features of this flowering beauty. The self-guided digital guide can be utilized in conjunction with our other self-guided options.

  • This program has the potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • 5-LS1-1: Plant growth
    • MS-LS4-1: Interpret fossils that document the change of life
    • MS-LS4-4: Survival and reproduction based on genetic variation
    • MS-LS1-5: Environment and genetics influence growth
    • HS-LS1-2: Hierarchical organization

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Joy Path Backpack

Self-paced | 180 students

Use an interpreted trail, teacher guide, activity backpack, and map to explore woodlands and aquatic ecosystems. (Each pack serves 20 students and three chaperones.)

  • This program has the potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • 3.LS1.1: Life cycles
    • 3.LS4.3 and MS.LS2.1: Habitats
    • 5.PS3.1, 5.LS2.1, MS.LS1.6, and MS.LS2.3: Energy and food webs
    • 3.LS3.2, 4.LS1.1, and MS.LS1.4-5: Survival, adaptation, and reproduction

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Gateway to Tree Science

Self-paced | 180 students

An interactive, outdoor exhibit highlights the biology and function of trees, the challenges they face, the plight of endangered trees, and the research taking place throughout this half-mile, wood-chipped path.

  • This program has the potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • MS-LS2-5: Maintaining biodiversity
    • HS-LS2-7: Impacts of humans on environment and biodiversity

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Woodlands, Wetlands, and Prairies

Self-paced | 180 students

Make discoveries on your own while exploring the Arboretum’s woodlands, wetlands, and prairies (no support materials provided). Below are some suggested itineraries that take up to approximately 90 minutes. These options may include interpretive trail signs.

East Side: Starting at Parking Area P-8 walk the Joined Loops 3 and 4 Trail to Big Rock Visitor Station. Continue on the Woodland Trail to Big Rock. For a longer experience, walk the long way around the Heritage Trail back to the Big Rock Visitor Station.

West Side: Starting at the Prairie Visitor Station Parking Area P-25, walk the Prairie Trail loop to Parking Area P-30. For a longer experience, walk to the nearby Millennium Oak.

  • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Fees and Policies

Half-day trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours): $8 per student, $15 registration fee
  • Self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Full-day field trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • Two guided adventures (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours) + self-guided adventure: $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • One self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Registration details:

  • Registration must be completed three weeks prior to field trip date.
  • Dates are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so early registration is strongly encouraged.
  • Adult chaperones are required (three adults/teachers for every 20 students).
  • There is a minimum of 15 students for guided and self-guided field trips.
  • Payment is due three weeks before the date of the field trip. Call the registrar to process payment at 630-719-2468, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fees include admission to the Arboretum for:

  • All registered and attending students
  • All registered and attending adult chaperones (three adults/teachers for every 20 students)
  • State required aides

Aligned Activities and More

To prepare your students for their field trip, consider using the resources in the Digital Field Trip Bundle. The bundle contains maps, a field trip social story, chaperone letters, vocabulary lists, previsit and post-visit activities, and NGSS-aligned assessments for students. (To access this resource, register and enroll).

In addition to the digital field trip bundle resource, the Teacher Check Bins and Classroom Items for Loan provide educators with tools, equipment, activities, and lesson support for hands-on classroom curriculum. Bins can be loaned for two-week periods, and must be picked up from—and dropped back off to—The Morton Arboretum.

Registration to reserve these resources is required. Pick-up is available after one week following the request. Availability is limited.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you offering half-day and full-day field trips?

Yes. Self-guided field trips can be booked between 7:00 a.m. and sunset. Our guided programs adhere to the following schedule:

  • Full-Day Guided Field Trips: 9:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Morning Half-Day Guided Field Trips: 9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
  • Afternoon Half-Day Guided Field Trips: 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Will we be able to eat lunch during our field trip?

Yes. Our lunch location is outdoors, at either picnic tables or picnic-style on the lawn at either Meadow Lake Picnic Area or the Thornhill Picnic Area. Lunch spaces for self-guided groups at Meadow Lake Picnic Area are not reserved and are first-come, first-served. Lunch spaces at Thornhill Picnic Area are reserved only for guided programs; schools will be assigned table space based on their group size and availability. Groups may also be provided with tarps to lunch on the lawn surrounding Thornhill. For questions, please contact Meghan Wiesbrock (mwiesbrock@mortonarb.org) or Megan Kuhl-Horbin (mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org).

How many students can participate in our field trip?

Capacities are put on our field trip programs based on availability and supplies. Please visit our website to identify the capacities of each field trip program. Typically, our self-guided programs have a limit of 200 students and our self-guided backpacks have a limit of 100-200 students. If you want to bring more students than the capacity limits allow, you would have to plan on coming to the Arboretum over the course of two or more days.

Are bathrooms available during the field trip?

Depending on where your field trip will take place, port-o-potties with handwashing stations or indoor bathrooms will be available.

Can my class just participate in a lab program on their field trip?

Lab programs are part of a full-day, guided field trip and must be paired with a field program.

How many chaperones can I bring?

Field trip groups are allotted three free teacher/adult chaperones per 20 students (i.e. bringing 21 students would allot six free teacher/adult chaperones). State-required aides are free, but must be identified in the registration form. Extra adults/chaperones are $16 each.

What can my students do on a self-guided field trip?

Students explore the Arboretum at their own pace. Educators can also access videos and downloadable activities in our Field Trip Bundle to better prepare for their field trip.

What happens if it rains on the day of my field trip?

Field trips are not canceled due to weather; our programs run rain or shine. Indoor locations are not reserved for self-guided field trip programs. If rain is in the forecast, we encourage our visitors to wear appropriate clothing: waterproof shoes, rain jackets, and poncho. We discourage the use of umbrellas as they become a safety hazard with low-hanging branches on our wood-chip trails.

The Arboretum security rangers watch the radars closely. If lightning is a threat, or the rain is torrential, the students on guided programs will be given modified programs in a thunderstorm-safe location such as the Thornhill Education Center, the Thornhill Picnic Shelter, or the school bus. Lightning will cause the Children’s Garden to close until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

What is the cancellation policy for my field trip?

Programs will run as scheduled to be outdoors during seasonal weather: rain, snow, and cold. Please dress accordingly. The registration fee is non-refundable. The program fees are refundable for cancellations made three or more weeks before the program date. No refunds will be given for cancellations or changes made fewer than 21 days before the program date, for changes in headcount, or for absent children. Payment for the field trip is due three weeks prior to the field trip date.

I teach at a Title I school, can you waive admission or give us a discount? 

The Arboretum offers a Youth Science Education Outreach Grant to schools serving 40% or more low-income families, according to the Illinois Report ard. Grant applications open in late May or early June and are first-come, first-served. For inquiries, please email mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org.

Can we come to the Arboretum early (before our scheduled field trip start time) or stay late (after our scheduled field trip end time) and just hang out and explore?

Due to the volume of students and visitors on any given day, it is recommended that you arrive at your scheduled arrival time so we can best accommodate your group.

Can we order box lunches/have food delivered on our field trip?

You cannot have food delivered to the Arboretum. Teachers and students are encouraged to bring their own brown bag lunch from home. At this time, the Arboretum is unable to offer box lunch options from its exclusive caterer, Ginkgo Catering.

Are masks required for field trip participants?

The Morton Arboretum follows State of Illinois COVID-19 guidelines. According to these guidelines, masks are not currently required for participation in our field trip programs and are optional in all Arboretum buildings. If these guidelines change, you will be notified in advance of your visit. Should any field trip participant feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they are welcome to do so.

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