Field Trips

Students examine bioindicators

TERC Field Trips and Virtual Field Trips

UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center is not yet open to indoor field trips; however, we have several options to recommend:

  1. Virtual field trips are free and available (brief descriptions available). Use this Online Virtual Field Trip Request Form ( up here! Using a variety of technologies, we have converted some of our most popular field trips to suit your needs, including:
  • Aquatic Food Web (Grades 3-4)
  • Geology/Plate Tectonics (4-5)
  • Trees of Tahoe (4-5)
  • Climate Change (6-8)
  • Virtual Tahoe Science Center Tour (All Grades)
  1. Pre-recorded Virtual Field Trips are being developed at the request of many teachers. These videos are accessible through our YouTube channel for students to complete at their own pace. Each video has a field trip guide and materials associated with the field trip, you can obtain all materials necessary for free by simply filling out the request form here. The Trees of Tahoe is available now and Climate Change and Formation of Lake Tahoe are coming soon.
  2. Outdoor field trips are still available for stream monitoring. Visit here ( to learn more and sign up for outdoor field trips using this Online Field Trip Request Form to reserve your field trip dates.
  3. Tahoe Science Center Virtual Tour Series videos are available in this playlist  ( on the UC Davis YouTube Channel ( There are currently seven virtual tour videos as part of this playlist along with many more specialty videos available in our channel. Subscribe to the UC Davis Tahoe channel to receive updates.
  4. This website compiled a list of the best virtual field trips for you, so enjoy your “visit”!
  5. UC Davis TERC compiled a list of other science resources available online at

We have in-person themes listed below and we welcome some direction into the programs you think would be essential to see on a virtual platform. If you'd like to give us any feedback on what you'd like to see this year, please fill out this survey! Your advice will help us provide the resources that work best for your classroom.

We are excited to see you and your students online this fall, and look forward to meeting in person again when it is safe to do so.


The TERC Education Team


Thematic In-Person Field Trip Programs at the Tahoe Science Center (Incline Village, NV)

  • Water on Earth (Grades 3 - 5):  Students explore watersheds, the water cycle, water as a limited resource, and Lake Tahoe water quality. Hands-on activities may include Blue Planet, Drop in a Bucket, and the Incredible Journey or Incline Creek Stream Monitoring (weather-dependent).

  • Shaping Earth's Surface (Grades 4 - 6): Students explore the forces behind the formation of landforms with an emphasis on erosion. Hands-on activities may include 3D Earthquake Viewer, Topography, and Landforms.

  • Geology/Plate Tectonics (Grades 4 - 8): Students will learn about the geological processes that formed Lake Tahoe and how tectonic activity is still at work in the Tahoe Basin and around the world. Activities may include viewing the 3-D Earthquake Viewer, Quakes at the Lake, and Rock Around Tahoe.

  • Aquatic Food Web (Grades 4 - 12): Students become biologists and ecologists as they meet various aquatic species from Lake Tahoe, make observations, ask questions, and discover connections, and build a model of Lake Tahoe’s aquatic food web.  Hands-on activities may include Building Lake Tahoe’s Aquatic Food Web and Macroinvertebrate Monitoring (weather dependent).

  • Environmental Detectives (Grades 6 - 8): Investigate human impact on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems while assessing watershed health with the "Mystery of the Dying Fish" based on GEMS Environmental Detectives. This field trip requires a minimum of 5-6 hours.

  • Lakes of the World (Grades 5 - 12): This new field trip aims to educate students about how lakes are formed, where they are located, and how freshwater resources are both used and threatened around the world.  We use 3-D technology to soar high above the earth in our 3-D theater to see the location, shape, and bathymetry of each lake, and learn about the lake as students take a virtual trip to visit new places.

  • The Tahoe System (Grades 3 - 12): This program provides an overview of the Tahoe Basin with a focus on systems thinking. Students explore the different features of Lake Tahoe that make it so special and learn about threats to the lake. Hands-on activities may include Watershed Model, Build Lake Tahoe, Incline Creek Stream Monitoring (weather-dependent) and Macroinvertebrate Monitoring (weather-dependent).

  • Earth System Science (Grades 3 – 12): This program includes an engaging game show that helps students conceptualize the Earth science concepts of life webs, cycles of matter, and the flowing of energy. A “3-Part Play” shows how Earth and all of its life forms continuously receive energy from the sun that fuels all vital processes then leaves the planet as heat that flows to outer space. The play helps students grasp the intricate network of relationships that connects the planet's organisms with each other and with the cycles of matter and flows of energy. Other activities on this field trip can include the topics of the carbon cycle, the carbon budget, and the greenhouse effect.

  • Fish and Wetlands (Elementary School - Grade 3): Discover the importance of wetland habitat in an aquatic ecosystem and learn the impact that terrestrial and aquatic invasive species have on native species. Hands-on activities include Capture, Store, and Release, Native Species Scavenger Hunt, and Wetland Monitoring.

  • High School Field Trips (Grades 9 - 12): Any of the above thematic programs are appropriate for high school aged student groups with a focus on in-depth discussion of more advanced concepts and/or lab tour.

  • Printable version of UC Davis TERC Field Trip Thematic Programs

  • NGSS alignment for Field Trip Programs