Environmental Education

Learning in the Park

Mill River Park Collaborative offers field-based environmental education programming that highlights the delicate balance between people and the natural world. We believe that understanding and appreciating this relationship is critical in the development of all young people. All of our programs are designed to be 60-75 minutes long and are aligned with Connecticut’s Next Generation Science Standards. Through these efforts, we hope to improve STEM learning and increase students’ knowledge and appreciation of nature and the environment.
Programs are $75 per group of 25 people or less. To schedule a program, please contact Trent McCann at (203) 989-0321 x.104 or trent@millriverpark.org.

Classes and Standards

Native Plants Scavenger Hunt

Available April through October (All Ages)
Discover the plants that call Mill River Park and the rest of coastal Southern New England home. Learn how native plants support a thriving ecosystem all the way from microscopic organisms to the top of the food chain. We will scour the entire Park in search of every species on our list, stopping to discuss the ecological significance of each species.

NGSS Standards:

1-LS3-3 Structure, Function, and Information Processing

2-LS2-1 Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

3-LS1-1, 3 Inheritance and Variation of Traits

3-LS4-3, 4 Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

4-LS1-1 Structures and Processes

4-ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems

4-ESS3-1 Earth and Human Activity

5-ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems

MS-LS1-1, 3, 4, 6 Matter and Energy in Organism and Ecosystems

MS-LS2-2 Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

MS-LS1-4, 5 Growth, Development and Reproduction of Organisms

MS-LS4-4 Natural Selection and Adaptation

MS-ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems

HS-LS1-5, 6 Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

HS-LS2-6, 7, 8 Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

HS-LS4-4 Natural Selection and Adaptation

HS-ESS3-3 Human Sustainability  

Soil and Nutrients

Available All Year, Both Off-Site and In-Park Programs (3rd-5th Grade)
Through phenomena-based learning, students will understand how important healthy soil is to a resilient and functioning ecosystem. We will cover topics including nutrient cycling, sediment deposition, erosion, and composting. Students will get the hands-on opportunity to explore healthy soil and have a hands-on experience with our resident decomposers.

NGSS Standards:

3-LS4-34, Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

4-LS1-1 Structures and Processes

4-ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems

4-ESS3-1 Earth and Human Activity

5-PS1-1, 3 Structures and Properties of Matter

5-PS3-1, 5-LS1-1 Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

5-ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems

Leaf Pack Investigation

Available May through August (All Ages)
Who lives in the Mill River? This is your opportunity to find out for yourself! Investigate a leaf pack, which will be deployed into the river and create a temporary home for fish, eels, shellfish, insects, and if you’re lucky even a salamander. This program must be booked at least 4 weeks in advance to give time for leaf pack deployment.

NGSS Standards:

1-LS3-1 Structure, Function, and Information Processing

3-LS4-3-4 Interdependent Relationships in an Ecosystem

3-LS1-1 Inheritance and Variation of Traits

4-LS1-1 Structures and Processes

4-ESS3-1 Earth and Human Activity

5-PS3-1 Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

5-ESS2-1 Earth Systems

MS-LS2-1, 3, 4 Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

MS-LS1-5 Growth, Development, and Reproduction of Organisms

HS-LS2-6, 8 Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Water Sampling

Available March through November (4th Grade and Up)
Collect water samples at various points along the Mill River, ranging from freshwater to tidal brackish water, and compare nitrate, dissolved oxygen, and pH levels. We will discuss what factors in and around the river influence these abiotic characteristics of the water.

NGSS Standards:

4-PS3-2 Energy

4-ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems

4-ESS3-1, 4-ESS3-2 Earth and Human Activity

5-PS1-1 Structure and Properties of Matter

5-ESS2-2 Earth’s Systems

MS-PS1-2 Chemical Reactions

MS-LS2-3 Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

MS-ESS3-3,4 Human Impacts

HS-LS2-3 Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems

HS-ESS3-2, 3, 4 Human Sustainability

Take a Nature Walk

Available All Year (All Ages)
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Mill River Park’s riparian meadows. We will take a leisurely stroll around the Park to observe a variety of bird species, unique native plant habitats, and clues left behind by elusive mammals and reptiles of the Park. This program can be tailored to your specific interests, but must be booked a minimum of 4 weeks in advance.

NGSS Standards: Varies by topic

Gallery: The Living Classroom of Mill River Park