programS for Middle School students
Designed to promote understanding and stewardship of the natural resources in the Potomac River watershed, our programs bring science to life for young learners. Students explore the world around them through more than a dozen different kinds of hands-on activities based on the National Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Join us online or in person for science beyond the textbook.
Innovative hands-on activities and field investigations
Now Scheduling Spring 2024 Programs!
Day & Overnight Programs
Students will engage in hands-on and minds-on science and learning activities in an outdoor, natural environment located on the shore of the Potomac River. Located at a historic farm, our education campus connects students in engaging and innovative ways as they learn and investigate the world around them. Our programs are designed to engage all learning styles and help students experience what science looks like in the real world.
Location: Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Education Campus in Accokeek, MD
A Day in Nature
Located along the Potomac River, students will get hands-on and minds-on in an outdoor, natural environment. Students will explore scientific and academic concepts through experiential learning. Students are immersed in nature to experience and explore the marsh, forest and river ecosystems.
Look out over the Potomac River to gain a historical and current understanding of how people impact the watershed. Explore our historic farm and meet our friendly barn animals to understand their role in our lives and environment.
Take action by participating in a riverside litter cleanup and learn more about what we can all do to protect nature.
Field Studies curriculum is adjusted for students K-12.
Students may eat lunch at the farm. The day typically runs from 10 AM to 2 PM.
* Note: Times and activities may vary according to the seasons, weather conditions, bus schedules, other AFF onsite activities or interests and needs of the group.
Extended Day Program
Your students get to stay until 7pm! Program is similar to the day program but adds in dinner, a hayride and s’mores around the campfire!
Stay the night in our cabins at Hard Bargain Farm!
The overnight program is designed for students grades 3-8 and consists of two days of age-appropriate activities, which typically run from 10 AM to 8 PM (Day 1) and 8 AM to 12 PM (Day 2).
Day 1 of the curriculum is similar to the day program which focuses on habitats, ecosystems, watersheds, human impact on the environment and what we can all do to help. Curriculum can be adjusted for the age and interests of the group. Of course, this includes meeting our farm animals! Then enjoy a wagon ride to the Potomac River, dinner and a campfire with s’mores under the stars. (weather permitting).
Day 2 of the program begins at 8 AM in the barnyard to help with chores or milk our cow. Build student confidence and team skills in our Challenge Course and then head out to explore the garden and learn about native plants. Students will participate in an interactive learning activity, Who Polluted the Potomac? that reveals students’ connection to the environment of the Potomac River and how we can all help protect our environment.
Bridging the Watershed
In National Parks
We bring science to life in parks across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. Our Bridging The Watershed program, in partnership with the National Park Service, is free to participating teachers and engages students in meaningful watershed educational experiences through hands-on, curriculum-based outdoor studies in national parks and public lands. Students investigate subjects related to watersheds, ecosystems, and human impacts on the environment.
Designed for: 6th – 8th grade.
Time: 3-5 hours during the school day.
Location: In schools, green spaces, and national parks in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC.
Cleanup Your Act
Grades 5 and up
The “Cleanup Your Act” program is a hands-on educational initiative aimed at raising awareness about the environmental impact of human activities on our waterways. In this program, students actively engage in a riverside cleanup, removing trash and debris from the Potomac River shoreline while learning about how trash gets into our waterways and the critical role they play in preserving the health of our rivers and streams. Through this experience, participants gain a deeper understanding of the importance of responsible waste management, water conservation, and environmental stewardship, empowering them to take action and make a positive difference in their communities and beyond.
*This activity (1.5 hours) is eligible for student service learning hours.
Location: Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Campus in Accokeek, Maryland
Length of Program: 4 hours
Time Frame: It is best to conduct this program at low tide or as tide is going out. If possible, try to pick a date where this occurs in the late morning/during the cleanup portion of the program.
Find the Tide Times – NOAA and MD DNR Tide Finder
Use Marshall Hall, MD or Mount Vernon when searching to get the closest tide predictions.
Ideal Amount of Students and Chaperones: While this program can be conducted with larger groups, it is best to limit it to 50 students. Groups are divided into smaller groups of 10-12 and sent to separate cleanup areas along the riverside. Additionally, for every 10-12 students, there should be one educator to guide the cleanup.
Concepts & Takeaways
By the end of this program students will learn:
- Humans have an impact on our waterways.
- Everyone lives in a watershed.
- What happens upstream can affect downstream.
- Trash gets into waterways in a lot of ways.
- The history of the Potomac River and how it is utilized today.
- What leads to greater amounts of erosion and why is erosion not beneficial to the environment and wildlife.
- Various types of materials break down differently when exposed continuously to the elements.
- Things students can do at home (individually or as a family – every action counts) to reduce the amount of trash and pollutants that end up in waterways.
Arrival & Restroom break – 15 minutes
Brief Intro to the property, objective, & safety chat – 10 minutes
Hike or Wagon Ride to riverside – 15-20 minutes
Cleanup – 1.5 hours
Return to main building – 15-20 minutes
Lunch break – 30 minutes
Reflection activities – 60 minutes
Through our Bridging The Watershed program, we are excited to bring you robust online programs that battle screen fatigue with a mixture of engaging activities and live field experiences.
With the guidance of our experienced team of educators, students will:
- learn about animal adaptations
- investigate water quality through the identification of pollution-sensitive macroinvertebrates
- understand and identifying invasive plant species
- find out how runoff and pollution impact their communities
- and more.
Our team of experienced educators help students draw vital connections between the science they are learning and real-world all around them.
Going Beyond the Textbook
Students discover the magic of science in the world around them through our award-winning environmental education and team-building programs.
Explore Our Programs
Click below to explore our program offerings for schoolchildren Pre-K through 6th grade.
High School Students
Click below to explore our program offerings for students 9th grade through 12th grade.