All Outdoor Discovery Center programs:
- Are customized to fit the class’s grade level and teacher’s subject preference
- Can be correlated to the Michigan Department of Education’s Grade Level Content Expectations.
- Can accommodate students with special needs
Please do not hesitate to make suggestions to help insure your experience meets your needs. We are always open to consider alternative options. Please contact the Outdoor Discovery Center office to make your program reservation: 616.393.9453 or firstname.lastname@example.org. When scheduling a program, please have these details on-hand to assist in the registration process:
- Contact information
- Estimated number of participants
- Theme or concept that you would like covered during the program
- Preferred season, week, date for a program
Please leave a detailed message if you are forwarded to a voice mail system. A staff person will return your call as soon as possible.
The programs described below are examples of our most popular program themes, however educators are encouraged to work with staff to customize their program including activities, demonstrations, and key concepts which pertain to the Michigan Department of Education’s Grade Level Content Expectations.
Natural History Programs
- Live Birds of Prey
- Up-Close and Wild
- Habitat Exploration
- Winter Ecology by Snowshoe
- Wonderous World of Water
- On Target!
Using the Center’s live raptors, students will learn about the role of organisms in the natural world including predator and prey interactions, trophic levels, bird biology and the characteristics of birds versus other animal groups. Depending on the length of time for the program, between one and five live birds may be used for the program. Artifacts such as wings, talons, feathers and skulls are often incorporated into bird of prey programs to provide a hands-on element.
Using our collection of live reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds, this program gives students the opportunity to learn about various habitat requirements, adaptations and the life history information for a number of animals. Hands-on time is a necessity for this program since it helps students gain a better understanding of the animals. A part of this program may be spent inside in order to make the sharing of live animals easier for the group and presenter. Depending on the length of the program, between three and eight live animals may be used for this program. Shells, furs, bones, skulls and other artifacts are often used to help with the hands-on learning process.
Exploring both plant and animal life and the living versus non-living elements of a place facilitates the student’s understanding of each habitat or ecosystem that is visited. Tools such as magnifying lenses, microscopes, and sampling nets may be used to take a closer look at what makes a place special. When scheduling a program, educators will have the option to choose the program theme of habitats (typically Pre-K to 3rd grade) or ecosystems (typically 4th grade and up).
Pre-K to first grade students often have a hard time catching organisms in a wetland or pond. Our staff supplement the experience by having organisms already caught placed in kiddie pools with aquatic organisms for closer investigation.
Explore a natural area in winter on Ojibwa-style snowshoes. The group will experience an ancient technology while investigating winter ecosystems. They will learn basic winter ecology and how plants and animals survive winter. Concepts such as habitat preferences, adaptations, predator and prey relationships and weather may be included.
Our snowshoes are designed to best fit students that are 3rd grade and up. Younger students may have a hard time both walking in and keeping the snowshoes on their feet.
Note: A four inch minimum snow depths is required in order to use snowshoes. In the absence of snow, the group will still be able to cover the core concepts of the program while hiking.
While taking a hike with one of our naturalists, students will learn about the parts of a plant, how they function with the plant, and learn more about specific plant species. Depending on the season, groups may use a journal sheet to record their observations.
This program can take place on the ODC Nature Preserve, at your school or in a natural area near your school. Teachers are welcome to focus this investigation on trees and have students collect leaves during the program.
Using a watershed model called an Enviroscape or a Stormwater Floodplain Simulation model, this program includes learning about the water cycle, run-off, soil permeability, and human impacts on the environment. Use of either model is best suited for one class at a time. The outdoor portion of this program includes investigating aquatic habitats and has students learning about how water moves over land. Additional concepts may include a soil analysis and observations of erosion.
This program can easily take place at your school in a classroom, multipurpose room or gymnasium and is best suited for early elementary-aged students.
This archery program is designed for physical education, social science, and science classes and intended to instruct target archery to 4th through 12th grades. It is suggested that the program take place over 3 days so students have multiple interactions with the instructor and multiple opportunities to practice their newly acquired skills.
This program can take place both at the ODC Nature Preserve and at your school. When at your school, we use portable archery targets and can affix a archery curtain backstop in the shooting area. The bow for this program is a Genesis bow so that students of various ages, abilities and strengths can be successful. To see if this program will work for you and your students, contact Tom Funk at 616.393.9453.
Cultural History Programs
Using artifacts, language, traditional houses, games, hunting tools, and common life skills, our educators will share some of the basic life activities of Michigan’s Native American people (People of the Three Fires) before and after contact with Europeans. Programs on-site at the Outdoor Discovery Center will include a tour in the recreated Neshnabe summer village while programs at your facility may include an authentic traditional house and activities using an assortment of artifacts. Winter programs may include the use of Ojibwa-style snowshoes. Depending on the time allowed for a program, activities during the visit may include: plant resources walk, atlatl throwing, hand-drill fire making, three-sisters gardening, playing double-ball, and an exploration of animal skins.
For this program we discuss the daily life of a French voyageur during the 1700’s. Using a set of clothes and tools, we will select one student from a group to become a voyageur as we discuss typical items that a man carried during his travels. Students will also learn about animal hides and their value including the target animal for the voyageurs, North American beaver. As time allows, the group will participate in a throwing hawk demonstration and simulated voyageur paddle. This program can be paired with the Native American Lifeways program.