Educator Guide 2019-20

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.

GRADES 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Explore and evaluate Alfred Wegener’s evidence for continental drift and the existence of the supercontinent using 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 earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, rift valleys, rocks, and minerals – even events that occurred right here in Michigan more than a billion years ago!

GRADES 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Explore aspects of the behavior, biology, ecology, and evolution of dinosaurs from fossil bones and eggs, casts, complete skeletons, and large skulls. Evaluate evidence related to dinosaur extinction theories and the relationship between dinosaurs, birds, and other reptiles based on current evidence.

GRADES 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 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.

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. Use tools to simulate a fossil dig and learn the skills of a paleontologist.

GRADES 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Students will examine how clouds and gases in our atmosphere affect climate, and how wind and ocean currents modify climate on a global scale. We’ll discover how ice cores tell us what the climate was like hundreds of thousands of years ago, see how global temperatures have changed in the last 125 years, and what the future may hold if current trends continue. Together, we’ll explore what may be causing climate change and how it could affect the future of our planet.
This program takes place in the Acheson Planetarium.

GRADES 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Evaluate evidence from key rocks and fossils from Michigan, and around the world, to understand how components of the Earth System co-evolved through time; with emphasis on the evolution of the atmosphere, magnetic field, early life, plate tectonics, climate, and history of select mass extinctions.

GRADES 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Learn how Michigan came to be by exploring the ice age through the direct study of local surface rocks, landforms, and sediments found in southeast Michigan. Students will learn about the transition to our warm climate period through fossil plants, extinct megafauna (mammoths, mastodons, and giant beavers), and other specimens from Cranbrook’s collections.
This program takes place in the Institute’s exploreLAB.

GRADES 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. Explore sediments and handle rocks, minerals, gems, and fossils that one would encounter along the way. Become geologists and interpret geologic evidence, and what it reveals about Earth’s history and natural resources in your community.

GRADES 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 naturally interconnected Great Lakes basins. From this session, students will understand the importance of our unique freshwater lakes and the potential problems posed by invasive species, diversion, and pollution.

GRADES 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Investigate the evidence for prehistoric tropical seas in southern Michigan through the study of specimens of underlying sedimentary bedrock and the paleoecology of local fossils. Together, we’ll evaluate explanations for a mass extinction in the sea and its link to the origin of related natural resources in the local bedrock.
This program takes place in the Institute’s exploreLAB .

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.