Educator Guide 2017-18

The Institute of Science offers over 80 field trip programs as well as special and permanent exhibits, planetarium shows, and seasonal events. Download our current Educator Guide to peruse our offerings at your leisure.

Grade Level: 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Explore and evaluate Alfred Wegener’s evidence for continental drift and the existence of the supercontinent Pangaea with numerous rocks, fossils and casts from Antarctica, Africa and Australia. See how new technology and exploration of the deep oceans provided further evidence for the theory of plate tectonics, including how the theory explains the present day distribution of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, rift valleys, rocks and minerals—including plate tectonic events that occurred in Michigan over a billion years ago!

Grade Level: 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Use scientific reasoning to explore the behavior, biology, ecology and evolution of dinosaurs through examination of fossil bones, eggs and casts, including complete skeletons and large skulls. Evaluate the evidence for dinosaur extinction theories and the relationships between dinosaurs, birds and reptiles. Use the geologic time scale to trace the range of dinosaurs and humans in Earth history.

Grade Level: 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12+
Take to the skies and discover the origins of flight with a father and his teenage daughter who share a fascination for all things that fly. Navigate with them across continents, meet the ancestors of modern-day birds— the feathered dinosaurs—and experience the cataclysmic “last day” of the dinosaurs. This program takes place in the Acheson Planetarium.

Grade Level: P K 1 2
Travel back in time to visit the land of the dinosaurs. Students gain hands-on experience with genuine coprolites, bones, and teeth, and casts of claws, spikes, skulls, and more. Students simulate a fossil dig and learn the skills and tools of the Institute’s paleontologist.

Grade Level: 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Compare Earth to the other rocky planets and use satellite images and rock and mineral specimens to better understand our planet as a system driven by the Sun and internal geothermal heat. Discover how aspects of physical and chemical changes and solid Earth processes—plate tectonics, volcanism and rock weathering—are linked to the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and global climate, including the growing role of humanity as a major force in the system.

Grade Level: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Explore the ice age and its influence on the modern world through direct study of the local surface rocks, landforms and sediments of southeast Michigan; including the transition to our warm climate period shown by fossil plants and extinct megafauna (mammoths and mastodons), and other specimens from Cranbrook’s collections. Offered Jan. 9–June 8, 2018. This program takes place in Explore Lab, the Institute’s newest experiential learning space. There is a $1 upcharge per student for this program.

Grade Level: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Take an incredible customized 4,000 mile journey from the site of your school to the center of the Earth. See the sediments and handle the rocks, minerals, gems and fossils that would be encountered along the way. Discover how geologists interpret geologic evidence and what the rocks and sediments 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 magnetic field.

Grade Level: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Use rocks, fossils and geologic maps to discover how ancient continental rift valleys, shallow tropical seas, folded rock layers and great flowing ice sheets combined to produce the Great Lakes basins. Discover the fascinating story of the postglacial evolution of local watersheds and related ecosystems, including the extinct mastodon community and early Paleo-Indian hunters. Evaluate the importance of these unique freshwater lakes and the potential problems posed to this resource and its biota by invasive species, diversion, and pollution.

Grade Level: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Investigate the evidence from specimens of the underlying sedimentary bedrock of southern Michigan for prehistoric tropical seas through exploration of fossils and their paleoecology, including an ancient mass extinction and the origin of related natural resources in the local bedrock. Offered Jan. 9–June 8, 2018. This program takes place in Explore Lab, the Institute’s newest experiential learning space. There is a $1 upcharge per student for this program.

Plan Your Field Trip

Field trips play an important role for students and educators. A new learning environment provides the opportunity to build team and small group skills and engage students on an intellectual, social and physical level.

Anthropology and Social Sciences

What does it mean to be Human? Explore the Human experience across time and place.

Astronomy and Space Science

What’s out there? Space science takes us exploring in our own galaxy...and beyond!


What is matter? Join in the LEGO® fun and discover how atoms interact, combine and change!

Earth Science

Ever wonder what’s below the ground we see? From crust to core, Earth Science explores our home.


How do we solve problems? Engineering uses art, math, science and technology to design solutions.


Sit back, relax and have some fun! An array of regular and seasonal entertainment experiences are available in the Acheson Planetarium.

Life Science

What is biodiversity? Life science reveals the interconnectedness of all living things.

Physical Science

How does that work? Discover the science of the weather, physics, matter and electricity that surrounds us every day.

At Your School or On Screen

Cranbrook Institute of Science comes to you to host a field trip in your school year-round! Or through videoconferencing technology, we can bring high-quality science programs right into your classroom.