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Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Offers Unique Opportunity For Students

Aug 28, 2007
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, located in Chicago, gives teachers a unique educational travel experience that's bound to delight and inspire.

Opened in 1999 as part of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is part of the legacy of naturalist Robert Kennicott, who founded the Academy in 1857. His concern was over the disappearance of native plants and animals and he led a group of scientists who began surveying and collecting to ensure that irreplaceable information about native flora and fauna was saved.

Today, teachers and students are among those who benefit from that vision and a visit to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a wonderful way to reconnect with the natural world.

Among the exhibits to be found at the Nature Museum:

Greening Project

Some 17,000 square feet of rooftop gardens, including the three-storey John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Cliff Garden on the south wall, makes the Greening Project the Nature Museum's largest exhibit. The eco-friendly, energy-efficient exhibit is said to be a combination of beauty and brains.

The exhibit has native climbing vines, an expanded prairie, a "use every drop" water conservation system and solar rooftop panels. There is also a quiet gathering area with reflective pool and an in-museum exhibit that gives real-time views of the rooftop with the opportunity for students to design a rooftop garden of their own.

Hands-On Habitat

This hands-on, body-on exhibit gives students the opportunity to explore the secret world of animal homes.

A highlight is the two-storey Tree of Life, a climbing treehouse.

Students collect and sort colorful fish from the Explorer's Boat and pump "water" through a root pump all the way to the branches.

Younger ones ride a wiggly worm slide and blow seed pods with a wind machine as part of their exploration.
They can also peek through an underground prairie periscope to see animals and plants that live above ground.

Judy Istock Butterfly Haven

Some 1,000 butterflies of 75 different species fly by on any given day in this spectacular habit that flourishes with tropical trees, glimmering pools of water, flowers and butterflies.

The exhibit is in a 2,700-square-foot greenhouse, filled with butterflies (some of which have never before been seen in the area). Nearly 1,000 chrysalides arrive every week, with beauties emerging daily.

Hands-on exhibits explain butterfly lifecycles, survival strategies and Monarch butterfly migration.


This waterplay exhibit in the Nature Museum gives students the opportunity to find out how rivers support plants, animals and humans.

Live animals and plants are on display and students get involved by reversing the flow of a river, shoot water through waterwheels and even build a dam.

Extreme Green House

The idea is that "being green" is about being aware of the connections between people and the other living things that share the world. The Extreme Green House is a full-sized bungalow in the middle of the Nature Museum, home to the Greens, a somewhat offbeat family that nonetheless provide insight into what it means to co-exist with nature.

A Digestive Dining Room, Conservation Kitchen, Bacterial Bathroom, and Bargain Basement are all highlights.

Students can "recycle" themselves through a crawl-through tube, interactive with major appliances, meet the fold in their food, and discover what's crawling around in the basement.

Wilderness Walk

Students taking in the Wilderness Walk exhibit at the Nature Museum will discover the region's true self, with three meticulously recreated environments, including prairie, savanna, and dune. All come complete with true-to-life lighting, sounds and live and preserved animals.

A live ant farm, white-tailed deer, and variety of animals from the region are included in this exhibit.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, through the Chicago Academy of Sciences, plays a lead role in the repopulation of endangered species through its work with butterflies.

Genetic research conducted as part of the Butterfly Restoration Project has helped shed light on the larger global picture of how to help build up dwindling populations of plants and animals to sustainable levels.

More than 2,000 teachers every year use the tools and resources made possible by the Nature Museum. Some 65,000 students see butterflies take flight for the first time and take in the many other exhibits.
About the Author
Travel Adventures is staffed by educators who understand the needs of teachers. Serving over one half million students since our inception, we provide hassle-free travel arrangements while empowering teachers to create change by expanding the classroom to the world. Our experienced team of travel professionals is dedicated to exceeding your student travel expectations.
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