6th-8th Field Trips

6th-8th Field Trips


  • Where: Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park
  • Cost: $3 per student; all adults are free
  • Maximum Group Size: 100 (minimum group size 40)
  • Length: All day


To help supplement the unit you are teaching, Asombro Institute has created thematic field trips where the hike and activity stations are based on a single topic. Select one of these categories, or choose individual stations from our à la carte field trip menu below. Please scroll down to view both of these options.


These field trips are open to all schools in New Mexico. Call the Asombro Institute office (575-524-3334) to schedule your school’s field trip!


Citizen Science Field Trips

Thematic Field Trips






Thematic Field Trip Activity Stations


Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt Hike

Station 1: Radio Telemetry

Station 2: Shrub Removal Plot Monitoring

Station 3: Arthropod Pitfall Traps

Biotic and Abiotic Ecosystem Components

Biotic and Abiotic Component Scavenger Hunt

Station 1: Rain-Out Shelters (study the effect of rain on plants and soil)

Station 2: Lizard Microclimates

Station 3: Soil Food Webs

Climate Change and the Carbon Cycle

Scavenger Hunt Hike

Station 1: Rain-Out Shelters (study precipitation’s effects plants and soil)

Station 2: Phenology (study plant change over time & response to climate)

Station 3: Climate Change Activity

Soil and Geology

Geology Hike

Station 1: Soil Erosion and Compaction

Station 2: Soil Food Webs

Station 3: Modeling Geologic Processes

The Desert Biome

Desert Biome Hike

Station 1: Rain-Out Shelters (study the effect of rain on plants and soil)

Station 2: Geocaching (learn latitude and longitude while finding treasure)

Station 3: Phenology (study plants change over time & response to climate)


Multi-Topic Field Trips


We have redesigned our middle school field trips, now packing them with even more science and a desert immersion walk. The field trip agenda depends upon what time you need to leave the Nature Park. Please call the Asombro Institute office for more details (575-524-3334).


Teachers need to divide the students into 4 groups prior to arriving. A booklet of pre- and post-field trip activities geared for 6th-8th grade students is available.


Note: If your students participated in an Asombro field trip previously, we will not duplicate the education stations they did the previous year, unless otherwise requested.


Pre- and Post-Field Trip Activities


A booklet of pre- and post-field trip activities geared for 6th-8th grade students is available. Below you can download an Adobe Reader (PDF) version.


Teacher’s Handbook (PDF)

Student Workbook (PDF)


Field Trip Activity Stations (à la carte menu)


Animal Adaptations

Students are introduced to desert animals and their physical and behavioral adaptations. Students will understand how organisms interact with their physical environments to meet their needs and how the food web of the Chihuahuan Desert is more than just predator vs. prey, but a web of energy transfer. Use of live animals is key to giving students an up-close look at some of the more elusive animals found in the desert.


Animal Tracks

This field trip station introduces students to animal tracks. Students learn how to identify the animal that made the track, the adaptations of the animal that left the tracks, and the story behind the tracks.



Students gather data by observing leaf litter that has been decomposing in the desert in mesh bags. Students will compare different litter bag treatments to decomposer species richness. Students will also observe termite bait traps and learn about this important Chihuahuan desert decomposer.


Erosion & Compaction

Introducing students to the concept of erosion, we use an erosion simulation demonstration. Students then use pocket penetrometers to conduct a scientific experiment comparing soil compaction at various locations.


Field Science Methodology

This field trip station introduces students to some of the tools and methodologies field scientists use. They are introduced to a number of different trap types, learn how to identify common animals from skulls, and do hands-on plant surveys using line intercepts along transects.


Geocaching in the Desert

Students learn about GPS (global positioning system) and how satellites can help determine location and direction. Using hand-held GPS units, students track different coordinates to find exact geographic locations.


Geologic Processes

Using geologic maps of the mountain ranges east of Las Cruces, students learn which rock formations form our local mountains. Students learn about core sampling and make their own core sample.


Habitat Stats

By using arthropods (mainly insects) caught in pitfall traps, students sort and group specimens to morphospecies and determine which habitat has greater species diversity.



Students use the scientific process and scientific instruments to test hypotheses made about microclimate differences. Temperature, humidity, and wind speed are measured at predetermined locations, and data are then compared to the students’ hypotheses.


Mineral Identification

Students identify common minerals by observing luster, color, streak, hardness, and other characteristics. Students complete a worksheet detailing their mineral’s characteristics.



Students learn about phenology, the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages (known as phenophases) as they respond to changing aspects in the environment, such as climate. They collect data on phenology of honey mesquite and creosote bush plants and compare their data with information collected since the study began in June 2010. Students contribute to a long-term scientific study!


Radio Telemetry

Students learn about the methodology of using radio telemetry to track animals in current animal studies. Using actual radio receivers, participants locate “radio-collared animals” (stuffed toy mice) and collect data about their species.


Rain-out Shelters

Reproducing a long-term study currently being conducted on the Jornada Experimental Range, students collect data on plant density/growth, soil surface temperature, and soil moisture under shelters that block 50% of the rain and in control plots. Global climate change scenarios for our region are also discussed.


Soil Food Web

Food webs aren’t just for the biota above ground. By studying underground food webs, students get an insight to the biotic components living in the soil such as protozoa, nematodes, bacteria, and more.


Soil Fractions

Students visit a soil pit that was part of a 1980’s soil survey. After viewing the different soil horizons, they learn about the three main components of soil: sand, silt, and clay. They then determine the percentage of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter in soil from different soil samples.


Zoology Identification

Students learn how to identify many common animals by taking specific measurements of the skull. They will also learn about many vertebrates’ adaptations that can be seen on the skull and distinguish the differences between carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.