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Exploring Science is a place-based environmental science school program that provides students with in-classroom lessons and a field trip to the Vassar Ecological Preserve. We aim to teach children of all backgrounds about local ecology and inspire an interest in nature. 

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Exploring Science is working with elementary school classes from multiple schools in Dutchess County. Our interactive, hands-on lessons focus on themes such as life cycles, food chains, observation, and water quality. When students come to the Environmental Cooperative for a field trip they have the opportunity to see the preserve, explore the pond, and look at macroinvertebrates and aquatic plants under microscopes. We are looking to expand our program to more schools and grade levels. If you are a teacher interested in this program, contact us at

You can find our lesson plans here.

Exploring Science During Covid-19

To accommodate this year’s unique circumstances we have developed an online science curriculum using Padlet. Padlet is an online virtual bulletin board, that allows two-way interaction with posts (to learn more about padlet check out this article). We invite both parents and teachers to use this platform! These activities, crafts, videos, and lessons are best suited for 2nd and 3rd grade, but can easily be adapted for 4th and 5th grade as well.

In celebration of the spring season, we have created a spring version of our Exploring Science at Vassar Padlet. We focus on habitats that are found right here in Poughkeepsie on the Vassar Ecological Preserve. If you are studying biomes this is a perfect way to explore the Temperate Forest Biome! In this spring version, we focus on the properties of water, life cycles, and biodiversity as well as continuing to explore scientific observation and interactions between living and non-living things.

We connect many of the activities to NYS Science Standards.

If you would like to use the padlet, please register here. Once you register we will send you the link and password and you are good to go! If you have questions or are interested in learning more please contact Jen Rubbo at

We are also offering virtual Exploring Science lessons! Students will play a game, experience a show and tell and learn about how to use the padlet! Please contact Jen Rubbo if you are interested.

Exploring Science is funded in part by the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Grant Program which is administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.