Ecology/Conservation
Protecting the Earth for future generations takes first learning about our planet, the environment, and how the ecosystem works. Get ecology teaching tips, project ideas, and more.
Things to See & Do in Alabama
Water Course
The Water Course is a project of the Alabama Power Foundation. The Water Course’s high-tech exhibits teach visitors about Alabama’s waterways and reservoirs, the state’s geography, and how water affects the lifestyles we lead. Visitors can take a simulated helicopter ride over some of the state’s waterways or challenge others in the game show.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab, founded by the State Legislature in 1971, is Alabama's marine education and research center. Located on the eastern tip of a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea Lab offers educational programs, the Estuarium, a public aquarium, and more.
Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum
Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum, "Alabama's Little Corner of Greece," now features over 20 acres of year-round floral beauty and classical sculpture, including new statuary honoring Olympic heroes. The Olympian Centre welcomes visitors with a video presentation of Jasmine Hill's history and a display of Olympic memorabilia from the Games of past years. A tour of Jasmine Hill, now completely accessible to visitors with disabilities, offers spectacular and ever-changing views, including our full-scale replica of the Temple of Hera ruins as found in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Flame.
Cathedral Caverns
Cathedral Caverns was originally called Bats Cave. Jacob (Jay) Gurley bought the cave in 1955 and opened it to the public. When he took his wife into the cave for the first time, she was struck by the beautiful of one big room with all the stalagmites and stalactites and said that it looked like a "cathedral." Gurley wisely changed the name of the cave at that point and it has been known since then as Cathedral Caverns, although it has changed hands many times. Cathedral Caverns became a state park in 1987. It includes 461 acres of land near Grant, Alabama. The cave now has a paved and lighted pathway that is 10 feet above the original path. The walk is a little over a mile for the round trip and takes an hour and 15 minutes.
Little River Canyon National Preserve
Little River flows for most of its length atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. The river and canyon systems are spectacular Appalachian Plateau landscapes any season of the year. Forested uplands, waterfalls, canyon rims and bluffs, stream riffles and pools, boulders, and sandstone cliffs offer settings for a variety of recreational activities. Natural resources and cultural heritage come together to tell the story of the Preserve, a special place in the Southern Appalachians. Little River Canyon National Preserve is located near Fort Payne.
Sci-Quest
Located in a 40,000 square foot facility within America's second largest research park in Huntsville, Sci-Quest boasts more than 150 interactive exhibits covering areas of science such as engineering; electricity and magnetism; world ecosystems and weather sciences; fluid dynamics; physiology; waves, light and sound; chemistry and material sciences; and early childhood education. Sci-Quest's newest component is the one-of-a-kind Immersive Theater. This new format captivates audiences with majestic, high-definition 3D images projected onto a 12 ft. by 26 ft. screen and state-of-the-art stereo surround sound. Visitors are given control of the various program scenarios through the use of touch-screen monitors and pop-up facts and questions, enabling each audience member to have an individually customized experience. Sci-Quest offers more than 200 public educational programs each year for children of all ages. Instead of using a traditional classroom format, however, Sci-Quest's science educators use interactive demonstrations and hands-on experiments to enhance the audience's experience.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center
Located in Birmingham, Ruffner Mountain is a 1,011-acre nature preserve in eastern Jefferson County. Its protected forest, ridges and valleys provide a refuge for a wide variety of native plants and wildlife. Located in the center of Alabama’s largest urban area, it also offers a place for people to retreat to the serenity of the outdoors.
McWane Center
See the wonders of our world in action, and leave with new-found perspectives. Through amazing hands-on exhibits, larger-than-life IMAX® films and quality educational programs, McWane Center in Birmingham strives to make learning an adventure for all ages. Features ScienceQuest, Just Mice Size, and World of Water exhibits.
Alabama Museum of Natural History
The Alabama Museum of Natural History, located in Smith Hall, the first building to be built on the University of Alabama campus in the twentieth century, is one of the finest excaples of Classical Revival architecture in the region. Experience the natural diversity of Alabama through exhibits from the Age of Dinosaurs, the Coal Age, and the Ice Age. View extensive collections of geology, zoology, mineralogy, paleontology, ethnology, history, and photography. Explore the Alabama Museum of Natural History housed in historic Smith Hall, one of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the region. See the Hodges meteorite, the only meteorite know to have struck a human. The Museum is located on The University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama Mining Museum
The Alabama Mining Museum, designated by the State Legislature as the official State Coal Mining Museum, focuses primarily on mining from 1890 to 1940 when mining became an important industrial force in the United States. The Museum tells the technological, social, and human stories involved in Alabama's development into one of the most important coal mining regions in the United States.
Mann Wildlife Learning Museum
Located at the Montgomery Zoo, the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum offers one of the nation's finest collections of professionally presented North American wildlife. All are shown in realistically created environments including painted mural backdrops depicting the natural habitat of the animal, with sounds of animals and several 'touch and feel' exhibits.
Mote Marine Aquarium
From its humble beginnings in tiny shed in a small Florida town, Mote Marine Laboratory has expanded to include a 10.5-acre campus in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations and public exhibits in Key West and field stations in Summerland Key and Charlotte Harbor. The Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota offers large displays of marine life, mammals, turtles, and aquaculture.
Rickwood Caverns State Park
Thrill to Rickwood's miracle mile of underground caverns. The 260 million-year-old limestone formations, blind cave fish and underground pools are just a few of the natural wonders exhibited in the colorful caverns. The park also features an Olympic size swimming pool, picnic area and campground.
Anniston Museum of Natural History
The Anniston Museum of Natural History exhibits over 2,000 natural history items on permanent display, featuring diorama-style exhibits that begin in pre-history with a life-sized Albertosaurus dinosaur model, and end in the extremes of the African savannah where a preserved African elephant rests under one of the world's largest constructed baobab trees. Also offers two Egyptian mummies from the Ptolemaic period.
The Wildlife Center
Located in Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, the Wildlife Center is Alabama's oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation center. More than 3,000 injured and orphaned wild creatures are cared for each year, including almost 2,000 birds representing more than 100 species. The Wildlife Center is open to the public for self-guiding tours, and features the Treetop Nature Trail. A beautiful, elevated walkway in the woods, the trail offers close-up views of non-releasable hawks and owls in natural habitat enclosures built among and around the trees.
Russell Cave National Monument
For thousands of years bands of prehistoric Indians came to the area we know today as Russell Cave. The cave provided a shelter. The surrounding forest provided food, tools, and fuel for their fires. Occupation of the cave shelter continued from the earliest known people to inhabit the southeastern United States, until the time of European explorers. The story of the inhabitants of Russell Cave is one of adaptation and survival. These people left behind clues to their way of life. These clues help us to have a better understanding of the people who have gone through the mists of time. Russell Cave National Monument is located near Bridgeport.
Aldrich Coal Mine Museum
Housed in the "Company Store" of the former Montevallo Coal Mining Company in Aldrich, Alabama and Historic Farrington Hall. See and learn of local history as well as the coal mining industry as it was back then...See the only monument in Alabama dedicated to all coal miners!
Birmingham Zoo
Explore the animal world at the Birmingham Zoo, featuring an alligator swamp, tropical rain forest, and zoo train and carousel.
Electrified Learning Tour
The best way to learn about electricity is to come see for yourself by touring a power plant. You'll learn how power plants change energy into electricity. Come see each process at work: a hydroelectric dam, a fossil fuel generator, or a nuclear reactor. The tour is free.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,180-mile footpath along the ridgecrests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in northern Georgia. It traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Conceived in 1921, it was built by private citizens and completed in 1937. The trail traverses Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
Montgomery Zoo
The Montgomery Zoo features 500 animals representing over 150 species - all in a barrier free, natural environment and divided into continents featuring Australian, Asian, African, and North American realms. Take a rail tour through each realm on McMounty 102, the Zoo's train, and stop by our Gift Shop to find that perfect souvenir.
Activities & Experiments
Arbor Day National Poster Contest
Join over 74,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The theme chosen will increase your students’ knowledge of how trees produce and conserve energy. The free Activity Guide includes activities to use with fifth grade students to teach the importance of trees in producing and conserving energy. These activities correlate with National Science and Social Study Standards. The Guide also includes all of the information you need for poster contest participation.
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: Science
Family style learning is a great way to tackle lots of different subjects, including science.
ExploraVision
ExploraVision is a competition for all students in grades K-12 attending a school in the U.S., Canada, U.S. Territory or a Department of Defense school. Homeschooled students are eligible to enter. It is designed to encourage students to combine their imagination with their knowledge of science and technology to explore visions of the future. Teams of students select a technology, research how it works and why it was invented, and then project how that technology may change in the future. They must then identify what breakthroughs are required for their vision to become a reality and describe the positive and negative consequences of their technology on society. Winning ideas have focused on things as simple as ballpoint pens and as complex as satellite communications. The student teams write a paper and draw a series of Web page graphics to describe their idea. Regional winners make a Web site and a prototype of their future vision.
Handbook of Nature Study
Based on Charlotte Mason's method of education, this website offers ideas and resources for incorporation nature study into your homeschool.
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Featured Resources

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