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Workshops and Hands-On Inquiry 

  • Investigate Labs: Your students will use scientific tools and museum specimens to answer questions and solve problems. Open for short lab activities when available or you can schedule a class workshop! Opening November 2019
    • The Nature Lab features hands-on collections inquiry, highlighting specimens from paleontology, zoology, botany, geology, and anthropology. 
    • The Micro Worlds Lab offers opportunities to use microscopes and lab equipment to inquire into molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.
  • Stream Table Workshops where students use the museum’s 10-foot stream simulation table to learn about rivers, watersheds, and landforms.  
  • Early Childhood Workshops - PreK and K are designed especially for very young children and feature hands-on activities with real scientific specimens. 

Click the dropdowns below for details.

Investigate Labs

Two hands-on public Investigate Labs where students can dig in and do what scientists do. These programs are only available Monday-Friday.

Nature Lab Workshops

30 students
45 minutes 

The Nature Lab is an interactive space providing opportunities for students to answer questions with museum specimens in an engaging environment full of animal displays, plants, rocks, and fossils. Programs help explain the natural world through current research in biodiversity, evolution, ecology, geology, and conservation.

Dinosaur Adaptations
Grades 1-4

Explore the world of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals by observing their many adaptations. Learn what these adaptations tell us about the lifestyles of these prehistoric animals. Take a closer look at actual teeth, claws, and protective gear from our collection!
Key Concepts: adaptations, fossils, structure and function

The Cycle Rocks
Grades 2-6

Explore the rock cycle through hands-on inquiry and investigation. Discover the difference between igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks, and learn about the composition of rocks and minerals. 
Key Concepts: rock cycle, types of rocks, minerals

Owl Pellets: An Ecosystem Key
Grades 3-5

This program uses owl pellets to explain recent research reconstructing ancient ecosystems. Explore how samples left over from the past can be used to understand ecosystems of the past.
Key Concepts: ecosystems, habitats, food chain 

 A Species Problem
Grades 3-6

Learn some of the criteria researchers use to distinguish one organism from another. Students will explore three different species concepts and under what conditions they are used.
Key Concepts: speciation, taxonomy 

Bones in our Bodies
Grades 5-8

The history of our lives is written in our bones. Learn what bones are made of, how they grow, how they change when we exercise, and how they can provide clues about skeletal adaptations in our evolutionary history. 
Key Concepts: growth and development, structure and function, evidence in archaeology

Ocean Acidification
Grades 6-10

Explore the interconnectedness of Earth's systems. This program focuses on the cascading effects of atmospheric climate change by detailing the effect of increased CO2 below the surface of the ocean. 
Key Concepts: climate change, Earth systems, data analysis, human impact, water chemistry

Micro Worlds Lab Workshops

30 students
45 minutes unless noted

The Micro Worlds lab is an interactive space where students use scientific tools to explore topics such as the biodiversity of microscopic organisms, cells, genetics, and developmental biology. Students learn about current research on how the smallest organisms can have large impacts on our lives.

A Biologist’s Tool Kit
Grades 3-4

Examine soil and pond water to learn about some of the tools biologists use to observe and measure the world to solve problems. How do those tools support the scientific process? This program will explore the basics of data use and measurement skills. 
Key Concepts: scientific method, data usage, making observations, taking measurements 

DNA and Electrophoresis
Grades 4-12
AATTATTGCGCGAT. What does that mean? Learn how scientists unlock the code written in our genes through this hands-on activity using the same techniques scientists use. 

  • Grades 4-6 will extract DNA, explore what DNA is, and how It is used in research. 45 minutes
  • Grades 7-12 will complete gel electrophoresis and learn about genetic technologies. We’ll find out how subtle differences in the genetic code allow researchers to make big discoveries.  90 minutes

Key Concepts: genetics, DNA, lab technologies  

Disease Detectives
Grades 5-8

Discover vector epidemiology: how diseases can jump from animals to us.  Learn and use techniques that epidemiologists use to track down the causes of diseases and keep us safe. 
Key Concepts: pathogens, animal vectors, data interpretation, data-based arguments

Gassy Microbes
Grades 6-8

Take a close-up look at how microbes metabolize to see how they make such a big stink! This program explores photosynthetic bacteria and their effect on the history of life, and perhaps, on its future.
Key Concepts: metabolism, photosynthesis, fossil evidence, climate change

The Powerhouse of the Cell
Grades 6-8

Students look at the evolution of two of the most important organelles in eukaryotic cells, mitochondria and chloroplasts. Explore the evidence for the development of these sets of evolutionary cousins, and their functions in the cell.
Key Concepts: cell anatomy and function, evidence for evolution, microscopy  

Stream Table Workshops

1 hour 
30 students
Only available Monday-Friday

Students use the museum’s 10-foot stream simulation table to learn about watersheds, rivers, and landforms! Students work in small groups and record their observations in accompanying student journals. These programs take place in the Community Room. 

Water, Weather, and a River Community
Grades K-3
Where does water come from, and where does it go? Students explore what happens to water when it rains, model flood dangers in a river community, conduct experiments about water flow, and discuss life in and around a river.

How Water Shapes the Land
Grades 2-6
Students discover how flowing water causes erosion and sedimentation, shaping and creating various landforms. They explore how human activities influence erosion and test various methods of erosion control.

Protecting Our Watersheds
Grades 3-8
What is a watershed and why is it important? Students explore how various human activities affect water quality both in a stream and as groundwater.

Early Childhood Workshops- Pre-K and K

30 minutes.
25 students
Only available Monday-Friday

These programs are designed especially for young children and feature hands-on activities with real scientific specimens. They take place in the Community Room.

What is a Dinosaur?
Explore the world of dinosaurs with stories, songs, and hands-on fossils. Learn what a dinosaur is and what paleontologists do. 

Creature Features
Learn about animals that have fur, feathers, and scales! Find out what makes amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals similar and different. 

Incredible Insects
Learn about the incredible world of insects. Dress up your instructor as an insect and take a closer look at the different types of insects. 




  • Science Demonstrations are live presentations in the Science Forum. We use real specimens and phenomena to stimulate curiosity and excitement!
  • Planetarium & Dome Theater shows are presented live and use advanced technology and a luxurious new learning environment to bring the universe to you!  Content includes the solar system, sky motions, our Moon, history, and more.

Click the dropdowns below for details.

Science Demonstrations

20 to 30 minutes.
30 students
Only available Monday-Friday

These live, engaging demonstrations on a scientific topic take place in the Science Forum. Presenters use real collection objects and show phenomena to stimulate curiosity and excitement! 

Life Cycles
Grades: K-2

Discover the stages in the life cycle and metamorphosis of a variety of different animals! Students get to see how these animals change throughout their lifetimes through a demonstration and by looking at actual collection items!
Key Concepts: life cycles, structures and functions 

How to Become a Fossil
Grades: 2-7

In this demonstration, you’ll explore how fossils are created. What parts of an animal become fossilized? How old are the earliest fossils? Students will discover how things fossilize and how fossil casts are made in the museum! This short program offers exciting information about fossils and real fossils you can touch!
Key Concepts: fossils, extinction, biodiversity 

Life: How Do We Find It?
Grades: 3-5

Discover how scientists search for life on other planets. Students will learn about the field of astrobiology and re-evaluate their definition of life. Observe a recreation of an experiment from the Mars Viking Lander expedition.
Key Concepts: life requirements, survival 

Cow Eye Dissection
Grades: 5-8

Watch a cow eye dissection and take a closer look at the organ that helps us see the world.  How is it different from our eyes and those of other animals? Learn the parts of the eye and how they work together to illuminate our sight.
Key Concepts: light, systems

Planetarium & Dome Theater Shows

57 seats (additional space for up to 9 wheelchairs)
45 minutes unless noted
Planetarium programs have limited availability on the weekends.

Our new Planetarium & Dome Theater offers advanced technology and a luxurious new learning environment to bring the universe to you! Group programs are presented live.

Musical Sky
Grades: PreK and K
30 minutes

Explore the sky through pictures, constellations, and songs! Learn about rockets, astronauts, the Moon, and what’s visible in the night sky. Choose between a night-focused or planet-focused version.

The Sky Tonight: Star Talk
Grades 1 & up

We look at the current night sky including bright stars, constellations, planets, and other interesting astronomical objects. As we go, we’ll explore mythologies and observe sky motions.

Patterns in the Sky
Grades 1 & 2

We’ll introduce the daily motions of the sky, the phases of the Moon, and the changing night sky. How do the motions of the Sun and Earth result in changing seasons? Why do we see the planets that we do? 

The Solar System Live!
Grades 2 & up

Take your class on a tour of our solar system, discussing planets, asteroids, motions, and more! We’ll zoom in to each planet in detail, enjoying breathtaking visualizations. Returning to Earth, we explore the night sky for any visible planets.

Sun, Earth, and Moon
Grades 3 & up

Explore the daily motions of the sky, the phases of the Moon, eclipses (if requested), and the changing night sky. How do the motions of the Sun and Earth result in changing seasons? Why do we see the planets that we do?

Mix and Match
Grades 1 & up

The Dome’s new technology can take you almost anywhere in the visible Universe, and create the perfect program for your curricular goals. After scheduling, the planetarium manager contacts you to plan up to five custom topics for discussion.

Fulldome Movies

Fulldome movies explore an array of topics, immersing your students in places faraway in time and space. Most include time for a short, live, night-sky presentation.  

Fulldome Movie Descriptions


Dynamic Earth

With visualizations based on satellite monitoring data and advanced supercomputer simulations, this cutting-edge production follows a trail of energy that flows from the Sun into the interlocking systems that shape our climate: the atmosphere, oceans, and the biosphere.

Audiences will ride along on swirling ocean and wind currents, dive into the heart of a monster hurricane, come face-to-face with sharks and gigantic whales, and fly into roiling volcanoes.



Expedition Reef

Learn about the secrets of the “rainforests of the sea” as you embark on an oceanic safari through the world’s most vibrant—and endangered—marine ecosystems.

Narrated by Tony Award® winner Lea Salonga, Expedition Reef immerses you in a spectacular undersea adventure. Discover how corals grow, feed, reproduce, and support over 25% of all marine life on Earth—while facing unprecedented threats from climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing.




At the Center of Miniaturized Medicine in the year 2053, you'll shrink down to the size of a microbe and get injected into a patient who is suffering from a mysterious viral infection. As you piece together the clues found along the way, you'll race against time to save the patient on a roller-coaster ride through the body. Laser battles, genetic weapons, and lots of surprises along the way make this a show audiences will want to experience again and again. Produced in cooperation with the University of Utah Medical School.




Molecularium: Riding Snowflakes, the award-winning digital dome experience, is a science lesson, a thrill-ride, and a magical musical adventure in a world of atoms and molecules. Aboard the Molecularium, audiences join a cast of atomic characters on an immersive and unforgettable adventure into the nanoscale universe. Explore billions and trillions of atoms and molecules with Oxy, a precocious oxygen atom, and Hydro and Hydra, her wacky hydrogen pals. Ride from the atomic structure of a snowflake to the far reaches of space aboard the Molecularium, the most fantastic ship in the Universe.

In the digital dome adventure Molecularium: Riding Snowflakes, audiences are transported into the world of atoms, where they learn about the water cycle, the three states of matter, and that everything is made of atoms and molecules. Aligned with national science standards in primary school learning, educational assessment has shown that Molecularium: Riding Snowflakes truly helps kids learn. Riding Snowflakes brings kids on a musical cartoon adventure into a nanoscale universe created from accurate molecular simulations. They travel into a cloud, watch a snowflake form, and count the number of water molecules in a raindrop.


Two Small Pieces of Glass

While attending a local star party, two teenagers learn how the telescope has helped us understand our place in space and how telescopes continue to expand our understanding of the Universe. Their conversation with a local female astronomer enlightens them on the history of the telescope and the discoveries these wonderful tools have made. The students see how telescopes work and how the largest observatories in the world use these instruments to explore the mysteries of the universe.






The Cosmic Recipe:  Setting the Periodic Table

Discover how the Big Bang cooked up everyday elements such as the calcium in our teeth, the silicon in our smart phones, and even the carbon in our apple pies in our latest production, The Cosmic Recipe!



Larry Cat In Space

Larry Cat In Space is a playful, imaginative cartoon presentation about an inquisitive cat who takes a trip to the Moon. Through Larry's eyes, we observe his human family, a group of enthusiastic sky-watchers. Larry notes how human time differs from cat time. Diana takes a job on the Moon, and sadly leaves Larry behind. Larry figures out a way to hide in her clothes trunk.

The trunk and Larry are loaded onto the Space Plane, which takes him to space station Freedom.  From there, he is transferred to the Lunar Shuttle. During weightlessness, the trunk opens. Larry floats out into the cabin, and looks out the window. When Diana discovers Larry, he leaps to greet her, but sails over her head, since he only weighs two pounds in lunar gravity.

He meets the rest of Imbrium Village's inhabitants, including the evil Commander Stone, who orders Diana to return Larry to Earth. The Moon base crew petitions to keep Larry, and the Commander relents. He even makes Larry a cat space suit. When Larry ventures outside, he spots the Earth, looking a lot like the Moon did from the porch at home.



Teenagers Guide to the Galaxy

A Full Dome Planetarium show produced by the Milwaukee Public Museum, but written and narrated by the CREATE students. CREATE = Creating Relevant Astronomy Through Experience! made possible by a grant from NASA.





Black Holes

Narrated by Academy-Award nominated actor Liam Neeson, this cutting-edge production features high-resolution visualizations of cosmic phenomena, working with data generated by supercomputer simulations, to bring the current science of black holes to the dome screen.



Sea Monsters  

Journey 80 million years back in time to an age when ferocious prehistoric creatures swam, hunted, and fought for survival beneath the vast, mysterious seas.

Stunning, realistic imagery recreates the perilous underwater realm of two young, dolphin-sized marine reptiles called Dolichorhynchops, and their journey among the most awesome predators ever to prowl the oceans.

Interweaving ground-breaking fossil finds with cutting-edge computer-generated animation, National Geographic’s powerful storytelling immerses you in the age when monsters ruled the seas!



Did An Asteroid Really Kill The Dinosaurs

Did a space rock six miles wide slam into the Earth 66 million years ago and wipe out 75 percent of all living species at that time, including the dinosaurs? Cosmic collisions are abundant in our solar system. See the numerous craters on worlds like the moon, Mars, and even distant Pluto.



Little Star That Could

The Little Star That Could is a story about Little Star, an average yellow star in search for planets of his own to protect and warm.

Along the way, he meets other stars, learns what makes each star special, and discovers that stars combine to form star clusters and galaxies.

Eventually, Little Star finds his planets. Each planet is introduced to your audiences with basic information about our Solar System.


Special Field Trip Days


  • Learn it! Do it! Days are themed extravaganzas on popular topics. Students participate in hands-on activities and experiments throughout the museum, and even take home some of the products they create. 
  • Explorer Days offer an enriched self-guided experience, with hands-on discovery stations in the galleries, scientist presentations, and interpretation outside a visible lab. The two Investigate Labs will be available for select short hands-on activities. 

Click the dropdowns below for details.

Learn It! Do It! Days

Beginning January 2020

On Learn It! Do It! Days, museum educators welcome your students at hands-on stations throughout the museum. Students explore these stations in small chaperone-led groups, participate in hands-on activities, experiments, and presentations, and even take home some of the products they create. 

Have a very large group and need a different date? Book your own Learn It! Do It! Day. Call 734-764-0480 for details and availability.

Wild Weather Extravaganza
Grades 1-4
January 31, 2020 and March 11, 2020

Build a working weather station, explore extreme weather, and travel through the water cycle. Planetarium add-on: You can add on a 20-minute show about the weather on our planet and on other planets. 
Key Concepts: changes in weather, severe weather, weather instruments

Geology Rocks
Grades 2-6
February 21, 2020 and March 27, 2020

Learn the differences between rocks and minerals, find out what minerals hide in everyday objects, learn how earthquakes happen, and touch a two-billion-year-old rock! Planetarium add-on: You can add on a 20-minute show about weather on our planet and weather on other planets. 
Key Concepts: rock cycle, types of rocks, minerals, erosion, plate tectonics, fossils

Explorer Days

Beginning January 2020

On Explorer Days, students get up close to the scientific process as they participate in an enriched self-guided experience, with hands-on Discovery Stations in the galleries, scientist presentations, and interpretation outside a visible lab. The two Investigate Labs will be available for selected short hands-on activities. 

Available Dates: January 24, 2020, February 7, 2020, March 25, 2020 and April 3, 2020


Self- Guided Visits


Self-guided visits include a host to greet your group, hands-on discovery stations in select galleries, and age-appropriate Discovery Guides to focus student observation. Your group may want to download the museum app, UMMNH, from the App Store, or check out an iPad when you arrive. 



Classroom Discovery Guides