Exploring the Bernheim Ecosystem
The Bernheim ecosystem includes many different plants, animals, and places. Students will explore three habitats – forest, pond, and prairie – and consider the organisms unique to each one. Key concepts include organism function, relationships between organisms and their habitats, and organism survival and adaptation.
Life and Land of Rock Run Creek
Rock Run Creek has flowed through Bernheim for centuries, creating a landscape filled with geologic history and ecologic connections. Students will follow a trail along the forested creek banks and explore the bed at dry locations. Key concepts include changes to the earth’s surface and interdependency within ecosystems.
Weaving Art and Science through Nature
Explore Snake Hollow, the large scale willow sculpture by Patrick Dougherty! Students will navigate through the maze-like sculpture, consider ecological connections between the work and its site, and then work with a variety of natural materials to build their own interpretation of the Bernheim landscape.
Wilson Creek Investigation
The Wilson Creek stream restoration site provides students the unique opportunity for hands-on study of stream ecology. In the past, humans straightened the creek to allow for farming; but in 2003, the channel was restored to its natural condition, creating a prime location for research, education, and natural management opportunities.
In addition to exploring the history and ecology of Wilson Creek (catching crawfish included!), students will also determine which factors contribute to stream health and investigate the ecological results of the initial restoration project.
Due to the remote location of Wilson Creek and the unique nature of this program, the following requirements must be considered:
- Time: Two hours
- Cost: $10 per student
- Group maximum: 30 students
- Other considerations: Following your arrival at the Visitor Center, additional transportation is required; school buses must be able to stay with school groups.
The Geography of Nature Unit
The Geography of Nature integrated study unit at Bernheim supports the Kentucky Department of Education Core Content for Elementary Social Studies through four site-based programs that address the geography subdomain and its four organizers: the use of geographic tools, regions, patterns, and human-environment interactions.
- Groups can sign up for one or more of the four programs
- Each program can be scheduled as a stand-alone field trip, or as multiple field trip experiences that tie together
- Programs are available for groups of 50 students or less
- The maximum number of programs a group can accomplish in one day is two
- Groups scheduling more than two programs in a single school year receive a 25% discount on the third and fourth programs
- $7 per student for groups scheduling any one program in a single day.
- $10 per student for groups scheduling any two programs in a single day.
All programs require the group’s transportation to stay on the premises, as students must be transported between various sites.
Program 1: Mapped Out
Time: 1 hour
Students will consider Bernheim’s geographic location by reviewing geographic tools and working directly in the physical landscape. Program includes exercises in map interpretation, exposure to a variety of maps and geographic tools used at Bernheim, and an activity for student teams to map our Children’s Play Garden.
Program 2: Bernheim Regions Expedition
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Students will visit a variety of different ecological regions, as defined by their unique physical characteristics, located within the Bernheim landscape. Program includes investigation of both natural and created wetland, grassland, and forest ecosystems.
Program 3: History of the Bernheim Landscape
Time: 1 hour
Students will follow the history of the Bernheim landscape from Native American hunting grounds to a source of natural resources for settlers throughout the 1700s and 1800s and, finally, to the establishment of Bernheim in 1929. Program includes discussion of historic events, examination of the relationship between people and the land, and investigation of artifacts representing past industries.
Program 4: Connecting People with Nature at Bernheim
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Students will evaluate the historical and present day connections between the natural environment and people of Bernheim, from a relationship based on commodity to one focused on sustainability. This program includes hands-on investigation of the historic fire tower and Bernheim’s LEED Platinum Visitor Center.
Field Trip Planning
To learn more about planning a Bernheim field trip, including how to schedule a visit, please see the Teacher Resources section of our website.