The Sanford Museum offers a variety of educational programs for groups on subjects including Astronomy, Geology, History, Natural History, and Prehistory.  If you are interested in a program topic not listed below or if you have a program preference but for a different age level, give us a call and we’ll do our best to assist you.  Appointments for classes should be made at least one month in advance. Classes are available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays. They usually take 45 minutes to 1 hour. If you are interested in scheduling a field trip, please call us at 712-225-3922.

Animal Classification - (45 minutes) Play animal twister to learn how the animal world is divided into different classes. Works best for grades K-2

Insects and Spiders - (45 minutes)  

Learn all about these cool critters by building one with your friends, one creepy crawly part at a time!. Works best for grades K - 2

Dinosaurs - (45 minutes) Learn about dinosaurs through slides, models, and the museum's specimens. Works best for grades K - 2

Fossils - (45 minutes) Use paleontologist's tools to dig a fossil out of rock and take the fossil home. Works best for grades K - 12

Museum Jr. Explorer - Explore the museum's exhibits while completing a scavenger hunt. Works best for PK- 2nd 

Oceans - (45 minutes)   

Identify ocean elements and take a look at some of the animals that live there. Make an ocean craft to take home. Works best for PK-1st.

Museum Sr. Explorer - Explore the museum's exhibits while completing a scavenger hunt. Works best for grades 3 and up

Civil War - (45 minutes) Explore the life of a Civil War soldier. Learn about the equipment, uniforms and day to day routines. Works best for grade 2 - 6.

NW Iowa Prehistory - (45 minutes) Discover Iowa's prehistory through hands on exhibits and artifacts. Works best for grades 2 and up

Animal Adaptations - (45 minutes) learn how animals change and adjust to their environments. Works best elementary grades 

Matter and Molecules: Learn about what you and the world around you are made of.  Use hands on activities to discover the properties of matter, what forms matter may take, and how it may change.

(works best for grades 2-6)

Rocks & Minerals - (45 minutes)   

Take a hands on look at many different rock and mineral specimens. Learn how they were formed and some of their cool uses. Best for grades 3 and up.. Works best for grades 3 and up

Pioneers - (45 minutes)   

Interact with early NW IA history through artifacts, and plan a trip west with your “pioneer family.” Works best with grades 2 and up.

Owls - (45 minutes) Learn what makes owls such fascinating creatures. See owl pellets, bones and feathers and hear their sounds. Works best for grades PK - 3

Think like an Archaeologist - (60 minutes, split into two 30 minute sessions)

Study and measure actual archaeological artifacts and then apply that knowledge by looking at the layout of an archaeological dig site. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology, students can seamlessly integrate science (STEM) with literacy, mathematics, social studies, and history.

Grades 3 -  6. 

Human Evolution - (45 minutes) Take an anthropological perspective on the evolution of humans. This is a great chance to see our casts of real hominid skulls. Works best for grades 7 and up

Field Trips:
Pioneer Cemetery Tour - Take a walk through history  in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Geology Walking Tour - Explore geology of the local buildings of downtown Cherokee.

History Walking Tour - Explore history of the local buildings of downtown Cherokee.

Planetarium Programs:
We have a wide range of capabilities with our digital Sci Dome projector.   It has three software components from which we can create programs.    

1.) Starry Night:  This software includes many different topics in space.  Our Solar System, galaxies, the moon, constellations, etc.

2.)  Layered Earth: This software would include Earth or the Geo Science topics.  We can go to any point on the earth’s surface using satellite imagery in the dome.  Real time earthquakes, plate tectonics, archaeological and cultural resources, population density, etc.

3.) Zygote Body: This software allows us to look at the human body by system.  This would include skeletal, muscular, circulatory, nervous, and lymphatic systems.   We can also look at specific organs or groups of organs and connective tissue.

*  If you would like a program other than what is listed here, please give us a call and let us know how we might help.  Creating new programs is time consuming and this is a new system for us so please allow a month’s notice to design your specific request.

Planetarium Programs Currently Available:

Jr Star Gazers: (15 minutes) Learn the basics about our sun, moon, and stars. This planetarium program is specifically designed for ages 6 and under.

The Night Sky: (30 mins.)
All ages.  Learn about the Earth’s place in our solar system and within our Milky Way Galaxy.  We then observe and discuss the planets and constellations that are currently visible from Iowa.

Object Movement in Our Sky:  (30 mins.)
Elementary students.  We will discuss the seasons, track the sun’s movement during the seasons, look at the details of the moon and its phases and see a quick overview of the current constellations.

Fast and Slow Changes to the Earth’s Surface: (30 mins.)  Elementary students.  We will take a look at the layers of the earth and discuss plate tectonics.  See the results of plate tectonic movement by visiting some mountain ranges, deep sea trenches, volcanoes, and even real time earthquake locations.  Also see erosional forces at work by visiting a desert, river and glacial valleys, and the Grand Canyon.

Our Place in Space:  (30 mins.)
Middle School or Jr. High students.  Learn about Earth’s place in space. See why we have changing seasons and why we see different constellations at different times of the year. Gain an understanding of distances in space and why stars appear to us as they do (large, small, bright or dim).

Skeletal System:  (30 mins.)
High School students.  Learn about the human skeletal system.  Take a detailed look at the hands, feet, rib cage, spinal column and skull.  This program can be adjusted to the bones you want to discuss so please give us a call.  We encourage added teacher instruction with all human body programs!

Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems: (30 mins)
High School students.  Learn about the Circulatory System and Lymphatic System one area of the human body at a time: arm, trunk, leg, head, and heart. This program can be adjusted to the body systems that you want to discuss so please give us a call.  We encourage added teacher instruction with all human body programs!

From the Stars to our Spinal Cord: A Journey in our Planetarium - We are excited to show off all the amazing educational tools our new planetarium projector is capable of! This program is a sampler of the three new programs: The Layered Earth, Zygote Body, and Starry night. We will fly into the human heart, around the earth to look at the layers beneath our feet, and then way out into space to look at our galaxy!

Love Stories of the Night Sky - February is the month of Valentine’s Day and lovers often look to the skies when they think of romance. They are not the only ones! In fact, astronomers too included love stories in the sky, when they named constellations and planets. Many astronomical features are named after greek and roman mythology, with tragic and romantic love stories of the gods and the mere mortals they oversaw. This month we will look at some of these romantic stories in the night sky.

Our Constant Constellations - There are five constellations that never set in the northern hemisphere. We’ll take a look at the earth from space to understand why this is and learn about the stories that surround those constellations.

Reason for the Seasons - Did you know that the earth is closest to the sun during winter in the northern hemisphere? Then why is it so cold!? During the month of the summer solstice, stop in to learn about the tilt of the earth and why it creates such unique seasons around the world! 

Boom, Clang, Swish: The Dynamic Earth - Even though the ground under our feet feels firm, the earth is always shaking, and sliding, and moving. This month we’ll peel back the layers of the earth to understand plate tectonics, earthquakes, and more!

Ancient Civilizations and the Cosmos - Ancient people were much more connected to the night sky than we are today. They used it as their compass, as their calendar, and as a canvas for their mythologies. Did you know some archaeological sites have astronomical alignments? We will travel to several archaeological sites around the world to watch the mysteries unfold!

The Unknown Universe - There are so many weird mysteries about the universe that science still has yet to explain. In honor of Halloween and all things weird, we will feature astronomical oddities of the universe like double stars, black holes, worm holes, and aurora borealis.

The Power of the Moon - The moon is our personal companion as we travel around the sun. It causes all sorts of phenomenon to our lives such as tides, eclipses, and more! This month we will land on the surface of the moon, study the phases of the moon, and learn about moons from other planets!

Life on the North Pole - Celebrate the holiday season, by learning about life at the North Pole. We’ll see how the movement of constellations, sun, and moon differ from what we see at our latitude. 

Full Dome Planetarium Movies:
(All shows are around 25-30 minutes except Flight to the Moon)

Oasis in Space: Oasis in Space - Oasis in Space transports the audience on a startling and beautiful voyage through our universe, galaxy and solar system in search of liquid water - a key ingredient for life on Earth.

Astronaut - The exploration of space is the greatest endeavor that humankind has ever undertaken. What does it take to be part of this incredible journey? What does it take to become an astronaut? We will explore the International Space Station and experience a rocket launch and the incredible training an astronaut must go through!

Two Small Pieces of Glass-The Amazing Telescope - This full dome show follows two students as they interact with a female astronomer at a local star party. Along the way, the students learn the history of the telescope from Galileo’s modifications to a child’s spyglass — using two small pieces of glass — to the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the future of astronomy.

IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System - Join scientists who are investigating the boundary between our Solar System and the rest of our galaxy. The show follows the creation of NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). Audiences will get an in-depth look at the mission and how IBEX is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our Solar System’s boundary.

Flight to the Moon - The Clark Planetarium and NASA have partnered to create a 9-minute mini-show about NASA’s LRO and LCROSS missions to the Moon. In 2009, two unmanned spacecraft, the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) and LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) launched together to explore the Moon in new ways.

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