3rd-5th Field Trips

3rd-5th Field Trips


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

In the “Cow Rumen” field trip activity station, students learn about the digestive system of a cow, the difference between the cow’s and a human’s digestion, and the microclimate in the cow’s rumen.



In collaboration with the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, the Asombro Institute for Science Education provides an opportunity for students to learn about science and the desert during a day-long field trip.


Students visit 3 to 5 stations where they learn about different science topics (see below). Students are also teamed with scientist guides on a guided exploration of the desert or a desert scavenger hunt (dependent on travel time). Students come away with an appreciation for all that exists in the desert, an area many of them once considered a wasteland.


On most field trips, student worksheets are provided. We ask teachers to collect these worksheets for a grade or classroom credit. We cannot guarantee that every field trip station listed will be available because we depend on our base of trained volunteers. However, we make every effort to accommodate your request.


This program is open to all schools in southern New Mexico. Call the Asombro Institute office (575-524-3334) to schedule your school’s field trip


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 3rd-5th grade students is available. Below you can download an Adobe Reader (PDF) version.


Teacher’s Handbook (PDF)
Student Workbook (PDF)



Field Trip Activity Stations


Animal Adaptations

Students are introduced to desert animals and their physical and behavioral adaptations. We will observe animals’ structures that serve different functions and classify common animals according to their characteristics. Use of live animals is key to giving students an up-close look at some of the more elusive animals found in the desert.


Cow Rumen

Students learn about the digestive system of a cow, the difference between the cow’s and a human’s digestion, and the microclimate in the cow’s rumen. Using a microscope, students get a look into the world of microbiology by viewing various species of protozoa found in the rumen.


Desert Plant Adaptations

Students are introduced to five native Chihuahuan Desert plants (barrel cactus, ocotillo, creosote bush, yucca, and honey mesquite). By playacting the plants’ adaptations, students gain knowledge and have fun.



Students learn that fossils represent evidence of plants and animals that lived many years ago. Students get a sense of the immensely long timeline from the beginnings of the Earth until today. They will understand how fossils were formed and then observe and draw actual fossils from a variety of plants and animals.



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


Play It Safe

Through a fun activity, students learn about being safe in the desert. Knowing what to wear, what to bring and what to do if they see snakes, spiders, bees and other animals, students gain an understanding of their unique ecosystem.



This field trip station introduces students to the concept of predator and prey animals. By using actual skulls, students will be able to see and draw the characteristics of the skulls and learn to identify the differences between carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.


Radio Telemetry

This station is based upon field research using radio collared brush mice. Student use radio telemetry equipment to find realistic (toy) brush mice that have been placed by Asombro staff. Once located, students take field measurements of the mice.


Rock Cycle

Students will understand the rock cycle and rock formation by learning some characteristics of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. They will practice using their knowledge by sorting some rocks into the appropriate categories.


Tricks of the Trade

This field trip station introduces students to some of the tools scientists use to capture and identify animals. They are introduced to a number of different trap types, learn how to identify many common animals from their skulls, and practice using a dichotomous key to identify an unknown animal.