Day Programs for Grades 4 through 12

Students sketching on boardwalk

Are you looking for an immersive and transformative experience in nature for your students? Come to Shaw Nature Reserve’s environmental learning campus, the Dana Brown Overnight Center (DBOC)! DBOC programs provide schools with unique opportunities to extend classroom learning while fostering awe, wonder and curiosity for the natural world.

Class information:

  • All DBOC classes are hands-on, inquiry-based, and focus on students’ direct engagement with nature.
    Classes are grade-level appropriate and align with current Missouri State Standards.
  • Depending on grade level, group size, weather, and other factors, specific activities may vary for each class offering.
  • The DBOC requires a 10:1 student:chaperone ratio for all classes.

 Pricing:

  • Class fees are $5/student with a $50 minimum.
  • Class fees are waived for one lead teacher as well as for one adult chaperone per ten students. Additional adults are charged the Shaw Nature Reserve's daily admission rate.
  • Full scholarships (including transportation) available for Title 1 and Title 1-Qualifying schools

Registration Information:

  • Groups may schedule their visit up to one year in advance. Availability is limited and programs are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. To register and/or for more information, contact Jessie Dockins, the DBOC school programs coordinator, at (314) 577-9539 or jdockins@mobot.org.
  • Day-use only classes may be scheduled Tuesday–Friday.

The following classes are available:

Ecology Classes for Grades 4–12

Aquatic Ecology

Offered March–November
Length of class: 3 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  Students examining pond waterStudents will explore an aquatic ecosystem and investigate the unique communities living beneath the water’s surface. Like scientists, students will practice observing, asking questions, researching the organisms they discover, and sharing their findings with peers. This class includes a 30–60 minute walk to a pond, lake, stream, or river. Your DBOEC school programs coordinator will work with you to determine which aquatic ecosystem is the best fit for your group.

Forest Ecology

Offered Year-round
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  forestAs students explore Shaw Nature Reserve’s forests, they will deepen their understanding of this habitat and the communities existing within it. During a ½-mile hike, students will identify forest plants and animals, consider the importance and interdependence of biotic and abiotic factors, and work together to create forest ecosystem models. Finally, students will be challenged to use their models to predict how natural and human caused changes may affect the forest ecosystem.

Wetland Ecology

Offered Year-round
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  LilypadsStudents will explore Shaw Nature Reserve’s wetland to discover what makes wetlands unique as well as the many ecosystem services wetlands provide. Using evidence to make explanations, students will investigate the adaptations that help plants and animals survive in a wetland. Students will also use models to explore wetland processes as well as learn how the DBOEC uses wetland biomimicry to benefit DBOEC guests.

Tallgrass Prairie Ecology

Offered May–December
Length of class: 3 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  Prairie flowersExplore the ecosystem that once covered 40 percent of Missouri! As students hike through the tallgrass prairie, they will investigate the complex relationships between the plants and animals that live in this ecosystem. Students will also learn how indigenous peoples used prairie plants as medicine and how Shaw Nature Reserve utilizes traditional ecological knowledge of fire to manage this ecosystem.

Bird Ecology

Offered Year-round
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  BirdFrom ID to behavior, students will explore birds from many perspectives in this popular class. Along a ½ mile bird walk, students will search for birds and the signs they leave behind while learning the basics of bird identification. Students will then dive into bird behavior, investigating the main types of bird calls and how to interpret them. Finally, students will apply their bird language skills by recording, analyzing, and interpreting the behavior of birds around the DBOEC.

Insect Ecology

Offered March–November
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  ButterflyJoin DBOEC instructors on an insect safari! Using scientific tools and methods, students will search for insects and other invertebrates in both forest and prairie ecosystems. Like scientists, students will practice observing, asking questions, and researching the organisms they discover. This class concludes with a “critter convention,” in which students share their discoveries, observations, and research with their peers.
Art and History Classes for Grades 4–12

Art in Nature

Offered Year-round
Length of class: 1.5 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  Girl stacking rocksInspired by Andy Goldsworthy, a renowned nature artist, this class encourages students to create art from the natural world. After viewing and discussing examples of nature art, students will create masterpieces of their own, using natural objects discovered around the DBOEC. Class concludes with a “gallery walk” of students’ artistic creations!
Navigation Classes for Grades 4–12

Introduction to Compass

Offered Year-round
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 25 students
Fee: $5 per student
  TrailIn this popular class, students will learn about cardinal directions, how to orient using landmarks, and how to use a compass to navigate. After an indoor introduction, students will head outside to navigate Shaw Nature Reserve’s compass course while solving secret messages!

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Offered Year-round
Length of class: 3 hours
Limit: 40 students
Fee: $5 per student
  School group on trailChallenge your students to a GPS scavenger hunt! After learning how to use GPS, students will put their skills to the test, navigating Shaw Nature Reserve while hunting for hidden GPS boxes. Working together, student groups will use clues found in the boxes to solve nature mysteries. A 5:1 student to teacher ratio is recommended for this class.
Special Opportunity

THE STICKY SCIENCE OF MAPLE SYRUP

Celebrate the coming of spring! Learn about maple syrup by exploring the two processes that make it all possible: photosynthesis and the water cycle. Students will investigate the annual cycle of sap movement and the importance of sap to trees. Winter Tree ID is included in this class. After helping with sap collection and cooking, they will enjoy a sample of delicious syrup.
  • Offered in January and February
  • Grades: 4–8
  • Length: 2 hours
  • Capacity: 60 Students
  • Fee: $2 per student

To schedule a maple syrup program, call (314) 577-9523 or email kbryan@mobot.org.

Maple syruping