Explore Museum Programs 2013-14

Pre-registration is required for all group programs.

Anthropology & Social Studies

The First Americans

Grades K-Adult
Authentic artifacts and age-appropriate, hands-on activities bring history to life as students discover how Native Americans interacted with the natural world to meet their daily needs. Based on the curriculum of each grade level, we’ll investigate the contrast between Southwest and Northwest Coast tribal groups, study the saga of the Plains tribes and their clashes with the United States, or use the tools and technology of Paleo-Indians to demonstrate the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture in the Americas.

Fur Trade History Alive!

Grades 3-Adult
Explore the world of the 18th Century French fur trader and his Native American counterpart in the Great Lakes. This program takes place in an authentic Great Lakes wigwam and includes hands-on experiences with tools and fur pelts to reveal the delicate interplay between two very different cultures. This program is excellent for 3rd Grade GLCEs. Program occurs outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather.


Grades 3-8
Students will learn how economics impacts their lives every day. Using collaborative activities, this program illuminates barter and money economies. Students operate their own stores, participate in trade networks and apply math skills to develop an understanding of the importance of fiscal responsibility. Middle school program emphasizes concepts of banking and world trade.

The People of the Three Fires

Grades 3-Adult
Enter the world of the Ottawa, Ojibway and Potawatomi tribes of Michigan. Artifacts, interactive games, and activities combine to reveal the history of Michigan’s first peoples. The program touches upon language, sports and games, arts and cultural ideals – both past and present – of the tribes known as “The People of the Three Fires.”

Where the Buffalo Roam

Grades 3-Adult
Follow the thousands-of-years epic tale of interaction between humans and the American bison. Beginning with Paleo-Indian hunter gatherers and continuing through the Plains horse cultures and market hunting of the 19th Century, we’ll conclude with modern efforts to conserve this magnificent animal. Live demonstrations of hunting tools along with hands-on specimens highlight this blending of science and social studies. Part of this program occurs outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather. Part of this program occurs outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather.

War of 1812: Maintaining our Independence

Grades 3-Adult
Join educators dressed in period clothing to explore – both internationally and on the North American continent – the increasing tension in the United States over Great Britain’s actions towards our fledgling nation. Programs for 3rd and 4th graders will concentrate primarily on the events that impacted Michigan and its surrounding area. Fifth graders and above will explore the regional and national impacts of the War of 1812.

Colonial Michigan

Grades K-3
Travel back to late 18th Century Michigan to explore a time of great change as fur traders, Native Americans, farmers, shopkeepers, soldiers, tradesmen and servants mingled on city streets and rural pathways throughout the state. Educators in period costume use a variety of hands-on materials, historical documents and artwork to bring the narrative of Michigan’s community history to life. The focus on labor, community roles, and land use using touchable artifacts makes this program excellent for younger audiences.

Archaeology Expedition

Grades 3-6
Offered Sept. 24-Nov. 26, 2013 and Apr. 22-June 13, 2014
Go into the field on a simulated archaeological dig! Teams of young explorers excavate a site to unearth artifacts just like professional archaeologists. After mapping, recording and interpreting their finds to piece together what life was like for the earliest inhabitants of Michigan, dig teams present the results of their inquiry. All participants will take home a souvenir of their expedition! . Program occurs outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather.

The Plains Indian Wars: An American Saga

Grades 5-12
Using original artifacts as well as replicas, this program explores the causes, participants, and consequences of the series of conflicts known generally as the Plains Indian Wars. It has an historical narrative that includes Native Americans from a many different tribal groups, African-American “buffalo soldiers,” the Euro-American officers who led them, as well as the general American citizenry “back East.” This program allows students the rare opportunity to get “up close” to Native American clothing and weapons from the period. Primary source accounts from the period are included, along with reproductions of maps, artwork, and newspaper articles from the time.

Astronomy & Space Science

Evolution of the Stars

Grades 8-Adult
This intense, informative program is a look at the evolution of stars in general and the Sun in particular. From the turbulent cauldron of their birth through the multitude of cataclysmic ways they can meet their end, students will discover the many secrets stars hold. This is a partially live-narrated program.

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure

Grades pre K-3
Big Bird, Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu take viewers on an exciting discovery of the Sun, Moon, and stars. They learn about the Big Dipper and the North Star and take an imaginary trip to the Moon where they learn that the Moon is a very different place from the Earth. Back on Earth they celebrate the idea that even though they live in two different countries, they still share the same sky.

Night Sky Objects and Beyond

Grades 1-Adult
The emphasis is on all-around sky viewing. Find the Big Dipper, North Star, planets and constellations in the current sky. Observe the apparent motion of the sky. Venture into interstellar space to explore our starry home – the Milky Way Galaxy – in stunning three-dimensions! Also, discover when the next meteor shower will occur; what the difference between meteoroids, meteors and meteorites are and where in the Institute you can actually touch a REAL meteorite. Note: This partially live-narrated program is updated weekly to reflect the latest astronomical discoveries or topics of interest.

Secret of the Cardboard Rocket

Grades K-4
What is the secret of the cardboard rocket? Two young adventurers turn an old cardboard box into a rocket and blast off on an awesome adventure to the most amazing places in the solar system! Join them as they visit the planets to learn what makes each one unique and what makes Earth such a special place to live. Note: This program is available in either a 30 or 40-minute format. At the time of your registration, please indicate which length you prefer.

Solar System Exploration

Grades 4-Adult
Explore the planets in our solar system, from their formation billions of years ago to the current robotic missions sent to unlock their secrets. Learn about the latest discoveries of comets, moons and icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt and beyond. See what the planets look like in the night sky and how they move along their orbits over time. Note: This live-narrated program is updated regularly to reflect the latest planetary and exo-planetary discoveries.

Reasons for the Seasons - MEAP BUSTER

Grades 4-Adult
Discover the reason for the seasons in this exciting live presentation! Learn why the start of the seasons depends on your location on Earth as well as Earth’s position around the Sun. Observe the Sun’s altitude and daily motion from various latitudes! Discover why your favorite constellations aren’t visible every night. Could the seasons and the ever-changing sky at night be linked? Find out in this engaging program! Note: This intensive, live-narrated program lasts 45-50 minutes and is designed to help students visually comprehend core astronomy-related material on the MEAP exam.

Season Changes & Moon Phases - MEAP BUSTER

Grades 4-Adult
Discover the reason for the seasons in this exciting live presentation! Learn why the start of the seasons depends on your location on Earth as well as Earth’s position around the Sun. Observe the Sun’s altitude and daily motion from various latitudes and visit Mars! Discover the phases of the Moon and uncover the mysteries of both solar and lunar eclipses. Note: This intensive, live-narrated program lasts 45-50 minutes and is designed to help students visually comprehend core astronomy-related material on the MEAP exam.

Stars of the Pharaohs

Grades 3-Adult
Travel to ancient Egypt to see how astronomy was used to tell time and align huge buildings. Learn about the connection the ancient Egyptians felt with the stars and various astronomical phenomena and see some of the most spectacular temples and tombs of the ancient world recreated in their original splendor.

Worlds of Weather - MEAP BUSTER

Grades 4-Adult
What’s the difference between climate and weather? Is Earth the only planet in our solar system that has varying climates and changing weather patterns? How does its climate and weather compare to other planets in our solar system? By studying Earth’s unique position and climate within the solar system and comparing it to other planets, we answer these and other climate and weather related questions. Note: This intensive, live-narrated program lasts 45-50 minutes and is designed to help students visually comprehend core astronomy-related material on the MEAP exam.

Young Stargazers Sky Journey

Grades pre K-1
Make the sky turn dark and sprinkle it with stars! The setting is complete as we embark on an exciting and educational journey through the night sky, viewing constellations and visiting the planets. Note: This is a live-narrated program.

Stories in the Stars

Grades 5-Adult
We’ll travel to the Isle of Crete where the legends of Zeus, Hercules, Orion, Perseus, Medusa and many others come alive. The Ancient Greeks and Romans may not have understood the nature of the stars, but they certainly had vivid imaginations as they created their mythological legends and stories looking at the stars.

Mystery of the Christmas Star

Offered Nov. 1-Dec. 20, 2013
Grades 3-Adult
Journey back 2000 years to Bethlehem as we examine the possible scientific explanation for the Star the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus. Using recorded sightings of significant astronomical occurrences during related historical events, we’ll investigate possible dates for the birth of Jesus. This astronomical look at the Christmas story is sure to charm and captivate audiences of all ages.

Entertainment Shows

Presented in the planetarium, these entertainment spectaculars feature brilliant images and dazzling special effects choreographed with great music for an awesome, senses-surrounding experience!

Christmas Lights!

All ages
Offered Nov. 1-Dec. 20, 2013
Dazzling state-of-the-art digital effects are choreographed to favorite wintry tunes and Christmas music. Songs featured:
are Wizards in Winter-Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Best Christmas-Christopher Cross, Jingle Bell Rock -Bill Haley & The Comets, Merry Little Christmas-Tony Bennett, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer-Gene Autry, White Christmas-Bing Crosby, Winter Wonderland-Dean Martin, and Frosty All the Way- Boston Pops.

Let it Snow

All ages
Offered Nov. 1-Dec. 20, 2013
“Let it Snow” features a new variety of festive classics from Frank Sinatra and Chuck Berry to Burl Ives and Brenda Lee, and includes a stunning multi-media finale by the Trans Siberian Orchestra. The soundtrack is visually enhanced with thematic animation and all-dome scenery in the audiovisual setting of the Acheson Planetarium. This 32-minute program is a fun and entertaining experience for all ages.


Grades 3-Adult
Riders will dip toward molten pools on Io, dodge flying particles in the rings of Uranus, do a loop-the-loop through the canyons of Mars and more on nine different "rides." Set to popular music, SpacePark360 is an immersive experience unlike any other and is suitable for all ages. Experience includes:
You Spin Me Round-Dope, Chelsea Dagger-The Fratellis, More Human-White Zombie, Here It Goes Again-Ok Go!, Vertigo-U2, Ring of Fire-Social Distortion, Stuck in the Middle With You-Stealers Wheel, Fly Away-Lenny Kravitz, and Stone Cold Crazy-Metallica.

SpacePark360: Lucid Dreaming Edition

Grades 3-Adult
The same great visuals as SpacePark360 but this time set to the infectious music of A Burning Century, an Atlanta-based alternative-rock-electronica band with a sound that combines soaring melodies with hard-hitting rhythms. Songs featured:
Aware, Lucid Dreaming, Watch Me Go, Summer Storm, So Long, For Now, Stand Up, Float Away,Made of Light, A Million Voices Deep, and Day By Day. Lucid Dreaming, the debut album from A Burning Century is available for purchase in the Science Shop.

Physical Science

Light and Sound

Grades 1-8
Focus on the physics of waves as we explore and describe the properties of light and sound. Discover how these forms of energy are created, measured and controlled. Hands-on activities, discussion and audience participation will reveal the fascinating facts about these everyday phenomena.


Grades 4-8
See how solar energy drives our climate and discover the phenomena that influence our daily weather. Become a meteorologist by using current Internet data to create a forecast. Explore violent weather and learn how to protect yourself during storms. Then, watch as lightning strikes before your very eyes!

Matter and Energy

Grades 1-8
Learn how scientists classify common materials with special emphasis on water, then explore "weird" substances that blur the boundaries between states of matter. Apply light, heat, electricity, and other forms of energy to matter and observe the results. We'll finish with a BANG when we change chemical potential energy into kinetic energy.

Electricity and Magnetism

Grades 2-8
Through audience participation, students use magnets to demonstrate properties like attraction and repulsion. We also investigate the discovery and structure of atoms and how they relate to conductivity, create human circuits, perform hair-raising experiments and generate lightning to observe how electricity interacts with matter!

Forces and Motion

Grades K-6
Investigate matter and the qualities scientists use to classify it as solid, liquid or gas. Apply pushes and pulls on simple machines like levers, pulleys and inclined planes to overcome common forces to make work easier. Lots of activities and hands-on demonstrations make this a moving experience!

Earth Science

Dinosaur Tale

Grades pre K-2
Travel back in time to visit the land of the dinosaurs. We’ll pass around genuine coprolites, bones, eggs, and casts of claws, spikes, teeth and more! Afterward, we’ll use dig boxes to simulate a fossil hunt as we learn about the skills and tools of the Institute’s paleontologist.


Grades 3-Adult
Use scientific reasoning to explore the behavior, biology, ecology and evolution of dinosaurs through examination of real fossil bones, eggs and authentic fossil casts, including complete skeletons and large skulls. Your group will evaluate the evidence for dinosaur extinction theories and the relationships between dinosaurs, birds and reptiles as well as an overview of the latest new discoveries.

Dinosaurs @ Dusk

Grades 3-Adult
Take to the skies and discover the origins of flight in “Dinosaurs @ Dusk.” It’s a learning adventure of a father and his teenage daughter Lucy, who share a fascination for all things that fly. You’ll travel back in time to meet the pterosaurs and the ancestors of modern-day birds: the feathered dinosaurs. Lucy and her father navigate from continent to continent, looking for clues about the origins of flight. When time runs out, they experience first-hand the cataclysmic “last day” of the dinosaurs. This program takes place in the Acheson Planetarium.

Earth System Science

Grades 4-Adult
Compare Earth to the other rocky planets and use spectacular rocks, minerals and satellite images to better understand our planet as a system driven by the Sun and internal geothermal heat. Discover how the aspects of solid Earth processes – plate tectonics, volcanism and rock weathering – are linked to the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, and climate system.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Grades 1-Adult
Take an incredible journey from the site of your school to the center of the Earth and handle the rocks, minerals, gems and fossils that would be encountered along the way. Discover how and what the rocks and fossils reveal about Earth System history and natural resources in your community. Evaluate how and what we know about the deep structure and origin of our planet, its source of internal heat, and its magnetic field.

Origin of the Great Lakes

Grades 4-Adult
Use rocks, fossils and geologic maps to discover how ancient continental rift valleys, shallow tropical seas, and great flowing ice sheets combined to produce the Great Lakes basins and discover the fascinating story of the evolution of the modern drainage and related ecosystems. Evaluate the importance of the lakes for freshwater and commerce and the potential problems posed to this resource and its biota by invasive species, diversion, pollution, and climate change.

Ecosystems/Fluid Earth

Water Quality Monitoring on Cranbrook’s Campus

Grades 5-Adult
Offered Sept. 24-Nov. 6, 2013 and Apr. 16-June 11, 2014
Students gather water samples from the Rouge River on Cranbrook’s campus to measure water quality using physical and biological assessments. Identification and classification of benthic macro-invertebrates provides data about water quality as students sort, identify, and count creatures harvested from the river bottom. This hands-on experience opens a new world of awareness and scientific inquiry as to the health of local rivers and streams. Program occurs outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather. This is a 90 minute premium program with a fee of $13.

Online registration is not available for this program. To register, please call 248 645.3223 or email water@cranbrook.edu.

Great Lakes Invaders!

Grades 4-Adult
From zebra mussels to round gobies to exotic wetland flora, many plants and animals have been introduced to the Great Lakes with harmful impact to its ecosystems. Learn about aquatic invasive species through investigation of samples collected from the Great Lakes. Students will explore how changes in one population might affect other populations based on a food chain studying “The Great Lakes Most Un-wanted!”

I Live in a Watershed

Grades 5-Adult
Learn about your watershed and how to protect it from pollution. Working in groups, students create a model community to develop an understanding of the ways in which land use impacts the water quality of local rivers and streams, and ultimately, the Great Lakes!

Great Lakes Food Web

Grades 4-Adult
Habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution have resulted in dramatic changes in the population of native species in the Great Lakes. Learn about the food web that links plants and animals in this complex system, and how we can help support it. For more information about water, curriculum, and links visit greatlakeswatershed.org.

Ecosystems/Fluid Earth
The Merle & Shirley Harris Family Foundation Environmental Education Programs

Groundwater Pollution

Grades 3-Adult
Using a simulator we’ll demonstrate how groundwater moves through a watershed from soil to aquifers to wetlands and rivers. Then, we’ll investigate how the permeability of different earth materials affects groundwater flow and aquifer formation. We’ll finish by observing the ways various pollutants move through groundwater to contaminate wells and learn what can be done to protect this important resource.

How We Use Water

Grades 2-Adult
Learn about the Great Lakes as one of the most important freshwater resources on Earth. Join us on a journey through the water cycle from the Earth’s surface to atmosphere and back again. Demonstrations and hands-on activities reveal how vital the Earth’s fresh water is and what we can do to conserve it. For more information about water, curriculum, and links visit  greatlakeswatershed.org.

Michigan Ecosystems

Grades 4-7
Investigate the diversity of Michigan’s ecosystems as students work in groups to design a food web in one of six different ecosystems. Then, explore the interrelationships between the biotic and abiotic factors and how the energy flows through their food webs to sustain life in any ecosystem.

Life Science

Botany 101

Grades pre K-4
From the trees in the forest to the flowers of the fields, explore the life of plants. Through classroom participation, students will identify the different parts of a plant then work together to create their own plant to demonstrate how each of the parts interact to promote plant growth. We’ll explore plant life cycles as we investigate the critical role vegetation and insects play in our ecosystem. By studying plant interactions within an ecosystem, students will gain a better understanding of what plants need to survive and recognize how plants are a benefit to us and our planet. The program concludes with a game to review the parts of a plant and the function of each.


Grades pre K-2
Thinking about the largest mammal to the tiniest insect, we’ll explore the similarities and differences of selected animals. Through classroom participation and the use of specimens from the Institute’s zoological collection, we’ll discuss the life cycle of animals and identify the characteristics passed on from one generation to the next. We’ll complete the program with a game to review heredity and the physical attributes of both young and adult animals.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Grades pre K-5
Offered Sept. 24-Nov. 22, 2013 and Apr. 15-June 13, 2014
Explore the Institute’s trails on a guided hunt while discovering first-hand the interactions of producers and consumers in an ecosystem. We’ll also look for evidence of human impact on the living and non-living components among Cranbrook’s 319 acres. Program occurs outdoors, dress appropriately for the weather.

Natural Selection

Grades 6-Adult
This program takes place in the Acheson Planetarium. Join the young Charles Darwin on an adventurous voyage of exploration circumnavigating the world with the HMS Beagle. Witness the thrill of scientific discovery by seeing the world through Darwin’s eyes, make observations of the most beautiful natural scenery and let the pieces of the scientific puzzle slowly but surely fall into place. Allow Darwin himself to reveal this simple and most beautiful mechanism that explains the evolution of all life on Earth: natural selection.

Bats & Live Animals

The following programs are presented by the staff from the Organization for Bat Conservation at Cranbrook Institute of Science. For more information visit http://www.batconservation.org.

Bat Zone Tour

Grades pre K-Adult
Take a personal, behind the scenes tour with a bat expert at the Bat Zone and experience bats in flight, flying squirrels, owls, a two-toed sloth and see the largest species of bat in the world. You can even meet a colony of Vampire bats! Learn about these unique nighttime animals as you explore this nocturnal sanctuary.

Basically Bats

Grades pre K-1
Can you fly with your hands? Bats can! Meet live bats from around the world and observe the many similarities and differences between these flying mammals. This program will engage early learners in a positive first experience with bats.

Bats of the World

Grades 2-Adult
Bats have been surrounded by myths for years; it is time to learn the truth! Investigate the many amazing features of bats such as echolocation, flight and feeding habits. Explore the unique roles these nocturnal mammals play in our world. Meet live bats and get inspired to protect these misunderstood creatures.

Biodiversity Live!

Grades 3-Adult
Explore the amazing variety of wildlife on planet Earth. Discover the interconnectedness between plants and animals. Topics include the balance of natural ecosystems, how humans impact biodiversity and simple actions that can be taken to protect wildlife from extinction. Live animals may include a bearded dragon, sugar glider and a large fruit bat.

Animal Adaptations

Grades 2-Adult

Discover the fascinating features and adaptations of Michigan’s native nocturnal animals. In this program we will talk about what adaptations are, how they are formed and why animals develop these amazing tools for survival. This program includes an owl, a bat and a flying squirrel.

Creature Coverings

Grades Pre K-1
Fur, Feathers, Scales and Slime! Learn how animals are classified by their body-coverings and discover basic differences between mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Meet a large fruit bat, bearded dragon, an owl and a frog.

Night Creatures

Grades Pre K-1
What big eyes you have! Uncover the secrets to life after dark in this interactive program for young children. Encounter an owl, bats and other nocturnal animals, as you learn about the fascinating adaptations and survival tools of nighttime creatures.

Special Group Programs

The Physics of Fling!

Grades 2-12
Demonstrate the power of physics using the Institute’s three-ton Trebuchet. Capable of launching a large pumpkin the length of a football field or more, Cranbrook’s trebuchet is an awesome tool to demonstrate the principle of conservation of energy, the mathematical nature of projectile motion and the basic laws of kinematics in engaging and inspiring ways that are certain to thrill and inspire. This amazing program is offered in three ways: two hours at your school; two hours at the Institute of Science; or one hour at your school and one hour at the Institute (on separate days). Each progam includes a classroom component which involves the use of a model trebuchet as well as the hands-on use of the full-scale trebuchet.

Please note, this program requires even terrain and approximately 75-yards of down-range distance.

Please note, some classroom components for lower grades are not transportable and require museum visit.

This program is $550 at your school, $450 if split between the Institute and your school, or $400 if the program takes place only at the Institute of Science.

Call our Scheduling Office at 248 645.3210.

A Trip into the Cell

Grades 8-Adult
Join us as we journey inside the most basic unit of life–the cell! Using images taken with high-powered microscopes, we’ll look at cells in three dimensions and examine the different parts of their fundamental architecture. The processes scientists use in the study of cells including how cells are stored, grown, and handled for basic and medical research--and the questions our understanding of cell biology can help us answer--also will be discussed. This program was developed exclusively for the Cranbrook Institute of Science by Dr. Stanley R. Terlecky, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and co-founder of EXT Life Sciences, Inc., a Michigan-based biotechnology company.

Call our Scheduling Office at 248 645.3210 for pricing and availability.