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The Education Office: Particles and Prairies Program

Particle and Prairies (6-8) - No longer available.
This program has been replaced by Energy and Ecosystems. Teachers who have taken Particles and Prairies are eligible for the Energy and Ecosystems' field trips.
Featuring the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, Particles and Prairies (P&P) is an interactive field-studies program providing students with authentic experiences using scientific practices and cross-cutting concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Language Arts and Math. The program includes an instructional unit, a professional development workshop and a free docent-led field experience at Fermilab.
About the Teacher Workshop
Three ecosystems in one workshop: prairie, woodland and pond. Study abiotic and biotic components of these systems. Learn biological principles and how to use standard ecological measurement techniques to teach students to investigate, assess and compare these different habitats.
"I am overwhelmed by the info, the activities, the wealth of resources — both written and supplies. This is the over-all best class I've ever had."
"It offered a lot of great instructional materials; allowed me to expand my understanding and experience material I would be presenting to my class."
In the Classroom
In this ecology unit students develop a deep understanding and appreciation of the components of our endangered prairie ecosystem. Using the same techniques that scientists use, students learn to collaborate, and collect, upload, analyze and interpret data. At school, students can query the P&P longitudinal dataset to study trends in the restoration of the prairie over time.
"The P&P curriculum is hands-on, rigorous and engaging. The activities and labs provide opportunities to participate in scientific practices and promote the ideas found in the cross cutting concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards."
On the Field Trip
After attending the workshop, teachers may bring students to Fermilab for free field trips every year. Students make observations and gather data that provide vital information to help Fermilab's ongoing prairie restoration project. They obtain and communicate information about the similarities and differences of prairie, woodland and pond ecosystems. Use the Field Trip Request Form.
"I can't even imagine what could have been done better. The students were engaged from beginning to the end while learning. Even my students, who are not particularly outdoorsy or, to be frank, interested in science came away with something. Thank you for one of the best field trip experiences we have ever had."
"Fermi's docents continue to impress me with their knowledge, their patience, and their outstanding ability to work so well with a difficult age group! I've taken groups to other prairie trips in the area, but this one is always far superior!"


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