Bring your students to experience hands-on learning and connect with nature through our free Discovery Field Trips at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. All field trips extend the life science concepts that you teach in your classroom. Curriculum based, they correlate with the Alabama State Course of Study and Alabama College and Career Ready Standards and are aligned with the National Science Education Standards. For Kindergarten-8th grades Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m. Each field trip is one hour and is designed for approximately 25 students. You may bring two classes, or up to 50 students. Each half will spend one hour on a field trip and one hour exploring The Gardens with materials provided.
The Secret Life of Trees (September-November & January-May)
- Kindergarten - 1st Grade
- Discover the life cycle of a tree and earn a tree detective badge.
- Count annual growth rings on "tree cookies."
- Compare tree bark and leaf shapes.
- Investigate a fallen log.
Alabama Woodlands (October-November & March-May)
- 1st - 6th grades
- Discover how animals need plants as well as ways woodland plants depend on animals: interdependence!
- Search the Barber Alabama Woodlands and find evidence of all kinds of creatures who live there.
- Birmingham Audubon Society is proud to offer a bird identification Bird Walk as an option to your free time during Alabama Woodlands! Teachers and students learn to identify common bird that live in The Gardens, as well as how to properly use binoculars. Field guides, binoculars and other resources will be available. Teachers, please request upon scheduling.
- New! K-6th grades
- Discover pollinators through children's literature
- Teams explore various plant habitats in The Gardens to observe pollinators, collect data (graphs, sketches and photographs) and communicate results.
- Students will be able to identify the parts of a plant important for pollination, describe how pollinators need plants, how plants need pollinators and how we can help!
Native American (October-November & March-May)
- 1st - 6th grades
- Identify varieties of plants used by Native Americans for food, medicine, ceremonies, travel and shelters.
- Desribe the role of corn, beans and squash in the Three Sisters Garden while understanding the symbiotic relationship of this native American planting method.
- Connect the important of Native Americans to the Native American culture.
- Photograph your students in an Indian dugout canoe.
Dr. George Washington Carver (September-November)
- 1st - 6th grades
- Examine Dr. Carver's life and his unique contributions to science.
- Simulate the nitrogen cycle through an interactive game.
- Harvest peanuts, sweet potatoes and cotton in The Gardens to take back to class.
- Identify edible plants.
Garden Gates Workshop (January-February)
- Enhances the science curriculum for 3rd-5th grade students.
- Identify basic parts of a plant and the function of each: roots, stems, leaves and flowers.
- Identify basic parts of a flower and the function of each: petal, stamen (anther, filament, pollen) and pistol (stigme, style, ovary).
- Discover how bees pollinate flowers.
- Propagate plants using three different methods of propagation: seeds, cuttings and division and take plants back to class.
- Descibe the benefits of plants in our daily lives (food, shelter, medicine, clothing and oxygen producer).
- Every teacher plants a paper white bulb for the class to grow.
Tropical Rain Forest (March-May)
- 1st - 6th grades
- Explore our Conservatory and discover plants from which we get chocolate, coffee, lemons and bananas to name a few!
- Find and describe six different plant adaptations for survival in a tropical rain forest.
Plants: Inside Out! (September - November, March - May)
- 7th - 8th grades
- Students create their own slide from leaves outside in our living collection to discover stomata (Greek for mouth) using tools to investigate this micro world of plants.
- Students will visually discover pigments in a leaf through chromatography while understanding the role of chlorophyll in absorbing sunlight for photosynthesis.
- Use scientific equipment to measure and graph carbon dioxide, using data to determine how levels change during photosynthesis and respiration under dark and light conditions.
- Apply new knowledge to research renewable energy based on leaves for a follow up team project.
Plants: Inside Out! is made possible through a grant from "The James Milton and Sallie R. Johnson Foundation."
Now Preschool and High School teachers can get their students involved at The Gardens. Teachers check out a free Discovery Backpack complete with a teacher guide (designed by educators) and materials you will need to lead your students on a field trip at Birmingham Botanical Gardens as they discover life science concepts related to plants and the environment. Correlated with curriculum. Available year round | Monday-Friday | Free | Contact 205.414.3953 to reserve your activity. Or, click here to submit an online reservation.
Preschool Discovery Backpack
Visit Southern Living Garden throughout the seasons exploring through the senses.
• Based on the Alabama Performance Standards for 4 year olds.
• Explore seasons at The Gardens through color, texture, scent, and sound.
• Identify The Gardens as home for plants and animals.
• Use a magnifier to investigate.
• Exercise skills for science including observation and communication.
High School Discovery Backpack
Teams trek our Big Tree Trail as they gain hands on experience identifying trees native to Alabama; making the most of time in the field surrounded by living plant material.
• Based on Alabama Course of Study, Science, 9-12, Biology 1, 9, 10 and Alabama Course of Study, Science, 9-12, Botany Elective 1.
• Investigate trees, including those native to Alabama, and parts of trees, for guided identification using a dichotomous key.
a.) Use scientific tools to make observations and record data.
• Gain familiarity with use of botanical names by recording accurately.
• Discover physical adaptations of trees.
• Identify characteristics of trees to later, through more research, classify as (monocots/dicots; angiosperms/gymnosperms; vascular/non-vascular).
• Collaborate with a team to exercise skills for science including observation, communication, classifying, measuring, predicting, and inferring.
Learn more about how Discovery Field Trips connect to the Alabama State Course of Study!
Reserve your Discovery Field Trip at least TWO WEEKS in advance. Contact 205.414.3953 to schedule your field trip. Or, click here to request a field trip.
This is only a request; you will be contacted by our staff to confirm your field trip.
The Junior League of Birmingham will fund bus transportation for Birmingham City Schools attending Kindergarten - 6th grade field trips.
Free transportation for Plants: Inside Out! is provided for schools attending 7th-8th grade field trips.
What teachers are saying about our Discovery Field Trips
100% of responding teachers say they would recommend our field trips to others!
"Hands-on, very interactive, students involved, children were interested in all activities."
"Relates to Alabama Course of Study."
"Subject matter matched class work."
"Excellent to teach science objectives."
"Aligns with our curriculum."
"Excellent: right on grade level, great outdoor science lesson."
"Docents excellent, exciting and motivating to children."
"Every child should have this experience."
Programs for Scouts
Girl Scouts can earn badges on their visit to The Gardens! Leaders check out a Discovery Backpackto guide scouts on a garden exploration following Meet The Gardens: A Treasure Map while earning badges through activities based on Journeys requirements for Girl Scouts.
Backpacks include a troop leader's guide and materials to complete requirements on site. Birmingham Botanical Gardens patches are available. Available Monday - Friday, 3- 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 - noon and 1 - 3 p.m. and Sunday, 2 - 4 p.m. There is no fee. Call 205.414.3953 to reserve your backpack.
Based on Journeys requirements for Girls Scouts
- Daisy (K - 1st) Discovery Backpack: Earn requirements toward Journeys Awards: The Amazing Daisy Award, The Golden Honeybee Award and The Watering Can Award
- Brownie (2nd - 3rd) Discovery Backpack: Bugs Badge
- Junior (4th - 5th) Discovery Backpack: Flower Badge, Gardener Badge
- Cadette (6th - 8th) Discovery Backpack: Trees Badge
Meet The Gardens: A Treasure Map
Before your visit to The Gardens, make sure to download our Treasure Map as your guide to discover highlights of our living collection. Designed for all ages to enjoy. Great for children’s groups and families. Based on Alabama Course of Study, Science. Curriculum resources are available per teachers’ request. Monday-Sunday | Free
Download your treasure map by clicking on the image above.