Middle school students are notorious for being difficult on field trips and it seems as though science field trips bring out the worst in them. With the three science field trips detailed below, however, you may find that your middle school students will sit up and take notice and maybe even have fun!
Cave of the Mounds
The Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark is open for tours all year long. The tour inside the caves lasts about 1 hour and they have special packages for student groups. For most of the year the tours start at 10am and end at 4pm on weekdays. Children from ages 4 through 12 pay $7.50 per child. The caves are cold (of course) and the temperature sits at about 50 degrees so you must make sure that the students are dressed appropriately. There are no restrooms in the caves, so make sure the kids go before or are able to hold it until afterwards. The caves are not wheelchair accessible and it is about 2/3 of a mile “hike” although most children get so engrossed the beauty of the caves that they hardly notice the walk. This Field Trip Guide has a lot of helpful information as well. In addition to the caves, there are above ground activities as well. These activities include a gemstone and fossil dig, many beautiful gardens, and a Discovery Center made from an old barn above the caves.
Yellowstone Lake State Park
This 968-acre park is home to over 3,500 brown bats and therefore, very few mosquitoes! The bats live in 30 bat houses throughout the park. The houses serve as nurseries, where the bats raise their pups. Kent Borcherding, a park volunteer from Hazel Green, gives presentations on the bats. Each evening campers gather around the bat houses to watch the bats flit about the sky on their hunting expeditions. Although many middle school field trips are day trips, exploring this area with an overnight stay with a small group of students may be an amazing adventure, and not just because it is mosquito-free.
University of Wisconsin Biotechnology Center
The University of Wisconsin at Madison houses a Biotechnology Center that has great programming for middle school students on science field trips. Their Science Exploration Days are designed with field trips in mind. Their Exploration Station allow students to have hands-on experience with DNA, make ice cream, mill flour, use pipettes, and make milk bubbles. The staff at the Biotechnology Center who are purposed for outreach do an amazing job of helping students explore science in a fun way.