Middle School Classroom Programs


The Asombro Institute can bring a bit of hands-on science and the desert to your classroom. All programs provide an opportunity for students to learn about science through hands-on activities. Each program is aligned with the New Mexico STEM Ready! science standards (including the Next Generation Science Standards) and Common Core mathematics and English Language Art standards, where appropriate. Please call the Asombro Institute office (575-524-3334) to schedule your classroom presentations.


  • Where: In your classroom
  • Cost: $60 for first presentation; $30 for additional, same-day presentations (additional travel charges may apply for schools outside Las Cruces, NM – $25 + 45 cents per mile)
  • Maximum Group Size: 1 class per presentation (exceptions on an individual basis)
  • Length: Approximately one hour per presentation (some lessons are multi-day)


Asombro provides programming in all four science disciplines in the NGSS curriculum: life science; physical science; earth & space science; and engineering, technology, & applications of science. Please scroll down to see our specific program offerings. A brief description of the program and applicable science standards are listed for each lesson. Click the science standard to read more on the Next Generation Science Standards website.



Carbon Cycling

Students explore the exchange of one important type of matter (carbon) between respiring animals and photosynthesizing terrestrial plants in investigations using their own breath, plants, carbon dioxide sensors, and data loggers. Students then participate in a carbon cycle quiz game where they use the carbon cycle to earn points for their team.




MS-LS1-6 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.


MS-LS2-3 Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.


Desert Data Jam

In this three-part lesson, students are introduced to the Desert Data Jam and begin to prepare their projects. As a class, we walk through the steps needed to create all sections of the presentation board using the rubric and complete a whole class creative example project. Students then begin to prepare for the Desert Data Jam. By the end of the third lesson, students will have analyzed their data, identified a data trend and its possible explanation, and begun to think about graphing their trend.





Science & Engineering Practices

  • Asking questions/defining problems
  • Developing and using models
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Constructing explanations/designing solutions
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information


Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • System and system models




Energy Transfer

Students trace the transfer and transformation of energy as it flows through a small section of the desert food web centered on a kangaroo rat. They learn about energy as a crosscutting concept, applying “physical science” concepts of kinetic and potential energy to “life science” concepts like photosynthesis, metabolism, thermoregulation, and movement of organisms.




MS-PS3-5 Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.


Human Impacts

Students will identify trends in state and national public supply water use data. They will apply their understanding to identify the need for further water conservation. They will explore three models of outdoor water conservation, while collecting quantitative data on water that is conserved.




MS-ESS3-2 Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.


MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.


MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.


Insulating You, Insulating Earth

To model the enhanced greenhouse effect, students will conduct an experiment using their own body heat, thermometers, towels, and space blankets. Students will use data and models to forecast the rate of climate change and impacts on Earth.




MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.


White Sands Lizards

Students are introduced to the phenomenon of camouflage in desert animals. They then move through activities highlighting major stages of evolution by natural selection in the context of blanched lizards at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Students will apply what they learn about blanched lizards at White Sands to explain the process of natural selection in rock pocket mice at the Valley of Fires in Carrizozo, NM.




MS-LS3-1 Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism.


MS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.


MS-LS4-6Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.