Middle School Experiential Science Programs

Our Teaching Methods

Middle school student doing research during their class field trip.

Middle school student doing research during their class field trip.

At Headwaters, we believe that giving students the opportunity to conduct their own research makes for an incredibly strong learning experience. Our mission is to make these tools accessible to students and teachers across the country.


Let Us Help You With NGSS and Common Core

Students measuring tree growth during their school field trip.

Students measuring tree growth in relationship to a tree parasite.

Beyond providing a great educational experience, our programs are designed to meet NGSS and Common Core standards. Our Middle School Ecology program meets NGSS: MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-4 and Common Core Standards: RST.6-8.1, RST.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.1a-e, WHST.6-8.2a-f, WHST.6-8.9. All of our programs are customizable; if there is a different standard you need meet, we will design a program to fit your needs.

We Come To YouDSC_0116

A three day program with Headwaters starts and finishes at your school. Many schools include a 1 day field trip to a nearby natural site or waterway, during which students collect data for their projects. If leaving school is not an option, our instructors have plenty of experience building experiments and collecting data on campus.


Day 1: During the two hour session students gain background information and design their research methods. A reading is assigned ahead of this session to prime students for the topic of study. For homework, students will build tables for data entry and research background information specific to their projects.

Day 2: Students get a full day of research at school or a field site. Students will execute their project methods and work through the many real world problems of data collection. Students will organize their data for homework.

Day 3: During this final two hour session, students analyze their data, relate their conclusions back to their hypotheses, and begin work on their final product. Students will be given a few more days to finish their final product–a scientific poster, slideshow presentation, or paper.


Pre and post-program learning evaluation, in the form of a 15 minute assessment, are used to measure program effectiveness. 

Program Options

2 sessions at your school and 1 local field day

This options allows you to branch out beyond your school campus to a near by natural site. Student project options can include:

Waterways. Water is essential for life, but not all water is the same. In this option students will study how characteristics of waterways impact the organisms living in them.

Insects in the Environment. Students can study how different ecological niches affect insect traits and behavior.

Adaptable Plants. They are everywhere with countless adaptations for different environments. This focus allows students to investigate the many adaptations plants use for survival.

3 sessions at your school

DSC_6052Let us turn your campus into a field science station! Topics of study include:

Urban Entomology. Insects make for an engaging study subject and can be found anywhere. Prior students have studied how different biotic and abiotic factors affect insect populations in and around campus.

Bird Feeding Behavior. Students can design experiments around feeding behavior, resource limitation, and predator-prey interactions. This project requires the class to put out bird feeders at least one month prior to the Headwaters program.

How Plants Work. Students can grow, dissect, and compare different plants as they learn how plants function through conducting their own research projects.

 See Past Student Workkids pick


Program costs are determined on a sliding scale based on financial need. Without financial assistance, 3 days of instruction for one class costs $1500. Volume discounts are available.


Program Director Spencer Eusden for more information or to reference teachers from past programs. spencer@headwatersscienceinstitute.org