Planning a nature trail with NRWA’s Scientist in Residence

Scientist-in-Residence (SIR) Program for Grades K-12

Scientist-in-Residence (SIR) brings NRWA’s professional educators to your school to lead a series of lessons or workshops, three to six times during the school year. The focus is science-based, hands-on learning that will engage students of all ages. Each program is designed to meet the needs of individual educators, administrations, and school districts, as well as meeting the requirements of Massachusetts and New Hampshire standards for science and technology.

Measuring tree diameter with NRWA’s Scientist in ResidenceNRWA currently provides SIR programs to seven schools in the watershed. The programs take place on the school sites or on conservation property near the schools. Curriculum focuses on science topics that teachers need to address. Some lessons are taught in the classroom, such as Wildlife Adaptations or the Water Cycle, and some lessons are taught outdoors, such as Tree Circumference, Plant Adaptation, and Maple Sugaring. The NRWA also coordinates a Service Learning project at the end of the school year. Below are current topics for SIR lessons, but please keep in mind that NRWA has the flexibility and knowledge to design new lessons to meet the needs of your specific curricula, school, and district. Some schools choose to combine SIR with our River Classroom, canoe-based field trip.

SIR programs in many of our schools are funded by grant sources. If your school needs funding assistance, the NRWA may be able to work with your school or district to find financial support through grants and other funding sources.

If you are interested in bringing the NRWA SIR program to your school, and you would like to discuss funding options, or for more information about SIR, please contact Stacey Chilcoat, NRWA River Classroom Director, at (978) 448-0299, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

List of Current SIR Topics

I/O: indoor and/or outdoor
I: indoor only
O: outdoors only

All Seasons

  • Enviroscape (run-off pollution model where students create solutions) I/O
  • Wildlife Adaptations: (inherited vs. non-inherited characteristics) I/O
  • Wildlife Adaptations: (instinctive vs. learned behaviors) I/O
  • Plant Adaptations (environmental effects, seasonal changes) I/O
  • Water Cycle Experiment I
  • Soil Lab: (properties and retention) I/O
  • Moon Phases and Earth Movement I
  • Mapping the Schoolyard: contour maps and 3-d model building I/O
  • Math Studies: calculating diversity and graphing tree or insect species I/O
  • Environmental Games such as Project WILD “Oh Deer”, Project PLT “Every Tree for Itself” or Project WET “Journey of a Raindrop” I/O
  • Stone Wall Investigations O
  • Math in the Field (measuring in the schoolyard) I/O
  • The Scientific Process: developing your own hypothesis and testing it in the school yard I/O
  • Tree Survey of the School yard O
  • Engineering in Nature: nature designs and man-made inventions I/O
  • Bones Investigations (wildlife) I
  • Birds of the Schoolyard
  • Signs of Animals: tracking, homes, etc.

Fall, Spring, and Summer

  • Water Erosion and Prevention I/O
  • Plant Diversity in the Schoolyard (for schools with lawn habitats) O
  • Forest, Field or Aquatic Ecosystems: plants, insects or small animal survey O
  • Forest, Field or Aquatic Ecosystems: how organisms interact and function in that ecosystem. O
  • Producers, Consumers and Decomposers in a Forest I/O
  • Producers, Consumers and Decomposers in an Aquatic Ecosystem I/O
  • Macro-invertebrate Study (aquatic insects/life cycles) I/O
  • Watershed Survey of Neighborhood O
  • Shoreline Survey (need a stream or river) O
  • Chemistry Testing of Lake of Pond O
  • Flow Studies in Stream or River: calculating velocity O
  • Invasive Plants: Identification and Competition I/O
  • Seeds: How do they Travel? O
  • Ant Baiting and Tracking in the School-yard O
  • Insect Survey of the School-yard O
  • Plot Studies: using square meter plots to graph species O
  • Vernal Pool Investigations (spring only I/O)

Winter Only

  • Maple Sugaring/ Photosynthesis/ Plant Structures I/O
  • Animals In Winter I/O