School Programs

Whether you teach preschool or high school, we have a school program to fit your needs. All programs are carefully crafted around South Carolina Science Academic Standards and are developed to involve your students in active, student centered learning.

Registration Policy:

  • Programs may be reserved in advance online via our School Programs Request for Information form or by calling the Education Department at 803.602.0803 Monday through Friday between 9:00am and 4:30pm.
  • Don’t see something that meets your needs? We will create custom programs for your group. Requests must be made at least 30 days in advance. A nominal development fee will be charged.

If you have any questions, please email or call 803.602.0803.

Classroom Style

Cost: A program fee of $55.00 is charged for each program reserved.

Capacity: Each classroom can hold up to 25 students, plus 2 additional adults (teachers and/or chaperones).

Time: 45 minutes.

Available Programs:

On the Move (Preschool–Kindergarten)

Can you swim like a fish? Slither like a snake? Swing like a siamang? Students will explore animal movement as they hop, crawl and wiggle their way through a story, song and activities.

SC Early Learning Standards: AL-5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4; ELA-1.2, 3.6; M-1.5; PD-1.1, 2.2
Kindergarten Science Standards: K.L.2A.3, K.L.2A.6

Critter Café (Preschool–Kindergarten)

Eating healthy is important. Have a crazy day at the Critter Café as we learn about what the animals like to eat. Program includes a story and activities.

SC Early Learning Standards: AL-5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4; ELA-1.2, 3.6; M-1.5; PD-1.1, 2.2
Kindergarten Science Standards: K.L.2A.3, K.L.2A.6

Sense-ational Safari (Kindergarten–Grade 1)

As you listen, feel, smell and see your way through this class you will be amazed how your senses help you discover the world around you. True for our animals as well, learn how some animals taste with their feet or smell with their tongue, in a Sense-ational Safari.

Kindergarten Science Standards: K.S.1A.1, K.S.1A.4, K.S.1A.4, K.L.2A.4, K.P.4A.1, K.P.4A.2
1st Grade Science Standards: 1.S.1A.1, 1.S.1A.4

Wild about Weather (Kindergarten–Grade 2)

Whether you like it or not the weather affects us every day. This means a change in dress and a change in the ways that animals and plants behave. Explore the adjustments that are made each season by living things as the weather changes.

Kindergarten Science Standards: K.L.2A.1, K.L.2A.5, K.L.2A.6, K.E.3A.1-4
1st Grade Science Standards: 1.L.5B.3
2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.E.2A.1, 2.E.2A.2, 2.L.5B.3

Bringing Up Baby (Kindergarten–Grade 2)

From egg to adult organisms change as they grow. Experience the journey of life as students learn about the growth and development of plants and animals.

Kindergarten Science Standards: K.L.2A.1, K.L.2A.5
1st Grade Science Standards: 1.L.5A.2
2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5A.1, 2.L.5A.3

Amazing Africa (Grades 1–3)

Get swept up in wild Africa! This safari adventure winds through grassy plains of the Serengeti, into tropical rainforests of the Congo, and along sandy desert paths of the Sahara. Discover how amazing animals survive in this world within the world.

1st Grade Science Standards: 1.E.4A.2, 1.L.5B.1, 1.L.5B.2
2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5A.2, 2.L.5B.2
3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.1

Circle of Life (Grades 2–3)

Food fight! Animals must eat to live. Figure out who is eating who and find out where all that energy goes. Dig into the food web through biofact exploration and live animal encounters. Follow an animal’s journey from beginning to end in the circle of life.

2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5B.1, 2.L.5B.3
3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.2

Critter Classification (Grades 2–4)

Tish Rabe’s book for Dr. Seuss asks, “Is a Camel a Mammal?” We have the answer. Whether it has fins, fur or feathers, you can tell a lot about a critter by its covering. You will discover that all these animals have class.

2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5A.1, 2.L.5A.2, 2.L.5A.3
4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L5.A.1, 4.L5.A.3

I Can Adapt to That (Grades 2–4)

Outplay, outwit, outlast; for animals, survival is not just a game. Animals depend on their adaptations to survive. Some get skills by their own wits and some get them from their parents. Distinguish inherited from acquired adaptations as we learn how animals survive in some of the world's harshest places.

2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5A.2, 2.L.5B.2, 2.L.5B.3
3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.1, 3.L.5B.2
4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L.5A.4, 4.L.5B.1, 4.L.5B.3

Home Sweet Biome (Grades 3–5)

Explore the unique ecosystems from the land and water, including aquatic, desert, forest, grasslands and tundra. See what makes each home unique and how plants and animals function within these intriguing homes.

3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.1, 3.L.5A.2
4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L.5B.3
5th Grade Science Standards: 5.L.4A.1, 5.L.4A.2, 5.L.4B.1, 5.L.4B.2, 5.L.4B.3

Covering Carolina (Grades 3–5)

What is it about South Carolina that makes it so special? How about the fact that it has 5 distinct regions, each with its own ecosystem and wildlife. We will travel from the mountains to the sea in this interactive class to truly understand how this amazing state functions.

3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.1, 3.L.5A.2, 3.L.5B.1, 3.E.4B.2
4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L.5B.3
5th Grade Science Standards: 5.L.4A.1, 5.E.3B.2, 5.E.3B.4

3rd Grade SC Social Studies Standards: 3-1.1, 3-1.2, 3-1.3

CSI: Coat and Skull Investigation (Grades 4–6)

Follow the clues to solve a wild crime! Try your hand at forensic science to observe and categorize evidence about animals. Interactive scientific skill stations and animal encounters can help you provide wild justice.

4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L5.A.1, 4.L5.B.3
5th Grade Science Standards: 5.L.4B.1, 5.L.4B.3
6th Grade Science Standards: 6.L.4B.1*, 6.L.4B.2

* Indicates partial completion of standard

Assembly Style

Cost: A program fee of $55.00 is charged for every 25 students or part there of.

Capacity: Theater can hold up to 100 students, plus 10 additional adults (teachers and/or chaperones).

Time: 50 minutes.

Available Programs:

Growing Up Wild (Kindergarten–Grade 2)

The animal kingdom is full of working parents and wild children. Sound like your house? Some animal parents stick around, while others lay eggs and then leave town. Investigate the cycle of life and the parents who make it possible.

Kindergarten Science Standards: K.L.2A.1, K.L.2A.5
1st Grade Science Standards: 1.L.5A.2
2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5A.1, 2.L.5A.3

Feet, Feathers, Fins and Fur (Grades 2–4)

How do animals survive in their habitat without all the ease of modern technology? By using their built in skills of course! Uncover what abilities are learned and inherited through this exploration of physical and behavioral adaptations.

2nd Grade Science Standards: 2.L.5A.2, 2.L.5B.2, 2.L.5B.3
3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.1, 3.L.5B.2
4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L.5A.4, 4.L.5B.1, 4.L.5B.3

Chain Reaction (Grades 3–5) NEW!

From the birds of the forest to the fish in the sea, living things in every habitat need energy to live and grow. Where does the energy come from? Follow the food chain to find out! See how important each and every animal is to its ecosystem as we uncover the complexities of food webs in a variety of environments.

3rd Grade Science Standards: 3.L.5A.1, 3.L.5A.2
4th Grade Science Standards: 4.L.5B.3
5th Grade Science Standards: 5.L.4A.1, 5.L.4B.1, 5.L.4B.2, 5.L.4B.3

It’s Taxing (Grade 6)

Classification can be taxing, but we can help! King Phillip keeps it all straight. Learn how each group of animals inherited or learned adaptations allow them to be able to meet the requirements needed to live in the natural world. Join us for a little tax-onomy relief.

6th Grade Science Standards: 6.L.4A.1, 6.L.4A.2, 6.L.4B.1, 6.L.4B.5, 6.L.5A.1*

* Indicates partial completion of standard

Tour Style

Cost: A program fee of $55.00 is charged for each program reserved.

Capacity: Tours are for up to 25 students, plus 2 additional adults (teachers and/or chaperones).

Time: 45 minutes.

Available Programs:

Balancing Act (Grades 5–12)

Biotic and abiotic factors create quite a balancing act in ecosystems. Visit forests, marshes, grasslands, and oceans in just 45 minutes. Find out how unique these ecosystems are, how interdependence keeps ecosystems running, and what we can do to help maintain the balancing act.

5th Grade Science Standards: 5.L.4A.1, 5.L.4A.2, 5.L.4B.1, 5.L.4B.2, 5.L.4B.3, 5.L.4B.4
6th Grade Science Standards: 6.L.4B.2, 6.L.4B.3, 6.L.4B.5
7th Grade Science Standards: 7.EC.5A.1, 7.EC.5B.1, 7.EC.5B.4 HS Science Standards: H.B.6A.1, H.B.6C.1

Animal Behaviors 101 (Grades 6–12)

It takes more than good looks to survive in the wild. Animals have to out compete, outwit and out play to survive. Tour the Zoo with us to find out how behaviors help animals survive and what enrichment is all about!

6th Grad Science Standards: 6.L.4B.3, 6.L.4B.4, 6.L.4B.5
7th Grade Science Standards: 7.EC.5A.3, 7.EC.5B.1
HS Science Standards: H.B.5.1, H.B.6A.1*

* Indicates partial completion of standard

Animals Around the World (Grades 6–12)

Around the world in 80 days? Explore the world’s biomes with us in just 45 minutes. Your around-the-world adventure will take you to places like the grasslands of Africa, taiga of Russia and rainforests of Southeast Asia, but get you back in time for lunch.

6th Grade Science Standards: 6.L.4B.1, 6.L.4B.2, 6.L.4B.3, 6.L.4B.5
7th Grade Science Standards: 7.EC.5A.1, 7.EC.5B.1
8th Grade Science Standards: 8.E.6B.1
HS Science Standards: H.B.6.A.1

The List: A Conservation Challenge (Grades 6–12)

Some celebrities make the “A” list; some animals make the “E” list. Making the list is great for celebrities, but not for animals. Tour the Zoo to see animals that have made the list and animals that have made it off the list. Find out what Riverbanks is doing to get animals off the list and to help prevent animals from making the list in the future.

6th Grade Science Standards: 6.L.4B.1*, 6.L.4B.2, 6.L.4B.3
7th Grade Science Standards: 7.EC.5A.1, 7.EC.5A.3, 7.EC.5B.4
8th Grade Science Standards: 8.E.6B.1, 8.E.6B.2
HS Science Standards: H.B.5.1, H.B.5.3, H.B.5.4, H.B.6.A.2, H.B.6D.1*

* Indicates partial completion of standard

Zoo and Garden Careers (Grades 6–12)

Are you interested in photography, art, retail, horticulture or guest services? Believe it or not, the Zoo might be the place for you! Take a tour with us where you'll see that it really takes teamwork and a lot of talented people to run the Zoo.

6th Grade Science Standards: 6.L.4A.1, 6.L.4B.3, 6.L.4B.4, 6.L.4B.5
7th Grade Science Standards: 7.EC.5A.1, 7.EC.5B.1
8th Grade Science Standards: 8.P.3A.6, 8.E.6B.1, 8.E.6B.2
HS Science Standards: H.B.6A.1

College-level

If you are interested in college level programs or teacher training programs, please contact the Education Department at 803.602.0884.

Garden Programs for Schools

Cost: A program fee of $55 is charged for each class of 25 students.

Capacity: Garden programs can accommodate any group size. These informal programs are held in the Botanical Garden amphitheater, with participants sitting on the grass.

Availability: Programs are available Monday–Friday, 9:00am–2:00pm. Each program lasts approximately one hour.

Reservations: Programs may be reserved in advance by calling 803.978.1131 or by emailing asegura@riverbanks.org.

Available Programs:

Bug Hunt (Preschool–Grade 2)

Children learn the importance and characteristics of insects before going out into the Garden to dig up their own creepy crawly bugs. The group will look for bugs in various habitats discovering the secret world where insects live. The tour ends with an appropriate story.

Insect Life Cycles (Grade 2)

This program demonstrates to students that not all insect life cycles are the same and goes through the life stages of several different varieties of common insects. Students will be encouraged to observe insects in the garden and to look for how they change throughout the year.

Camouflage and Mimicry (Grade 4)

Can you see me? Plants and insects have some interesting relationships when it comes to camouflage and mimicry. Looking like something you are not can be beneficial, whether for protection or pollination. Students will see some interesting insects that have evolved to look very plant-like, as well as some plants that have evolved to closely resemble insects.

Wild Weather (Grade 4)

In this program, participants will become water drops, making their way through the water cycle. When they fall back to the earth as rain, students will discuss weather, and how measurement and prediction of weather makes a big impact on plants. Students will see how a thunderstorm forms — and brainstorm about why water and weather is an important part of our lives.

Ecosystem in Focus-Wetlands (Grade 5)

Get into the nitty gritty of South Carolina wetlands. Discover what types of wetlands are found here in the state, but also what lives in them and how they all work together as a delicate ecosystem.

Basic Taxonomy (Grade 6)

Discover basic taxonomy and how scientists classify and name all those plants and animals. This program covers the different levels of classification in plants and discusses how scientists use shared characteristics to understand how plants evolved.

Create Your Own Garden Programs

Choose your own topics to create a unique, hands-on, immersive experience for your group. These topics are aligned with new science standards as well as incorporating the old standards for teachers who are transitioning.

*Each school group lesson will be tailored to meet the appropriate standard for the grade level being addressed. So that we can best fit our programs to your group needs, please feel free to select multiple lessons from below.

  • What do plants need to live? Come investigate a plant’s different requirements for life! [K.L.2A.2, 1.L.5B.1 (1-2.1)] (K–1)
  • How do we use natural resources? How can we conserve them in our day-to-day lives? Come create models to investigate and discuss these topics! Take materials back to your classroom for further experimentation. [1.E.4B.1 (1-4.6), 1.E.4B.2] (1)
  • Each part of a plant plays an important role in the survival of the plant as a whole. Come explore the parts of plants, flowers and seeds through dissections, demonstrations and labs! [1.L.5A.1 (1-2.2, 1-2.3), 6.L.5B.3 (6-2.4)] (1–6)
  • Ever wondered why poison ivy makes you itch and why plants grow upward? Come learn about various plant adaptations through investigations and labs. [1.L.5B.2, 4.L.5B.2, 6.L.5B.3] (1–6)
  • How do plants survive when their environment changes? Come observe and experiment with how plants react to stimuli and changes in the environment. [1.L.5B.3 (1-2.5, 1-2.6), 3.L.5B.2 (3-2.2, 3-2.3, 3-2.4), 6.L.5B.4, 6.L.5B.5 (6-2.8)] (1–6)
  • How does a seed grow to become a plant? Come explore the life cycle of plants as they begin from seeds. [1.L.5A.2 (1-2.4), 3-2.1, 4.L.5A.2, 6-2.5] (1–6)
  • Humans alter the earth in many ways. Come investigate what effects pollution and erosion have on our land and water, and take on an erosion challenge! [5.E.3B.3 (5-3.6, 5-4.8), 5.E.3B.4] (5)
  • How old is a rock? What can we learn from fossils? Come explore rock strata and real fossils through modeling and investigations. [8.E.6A.2 (8-2.6), 8.E.6A.4, 8.E.6A.5 (8-2.2) (8)
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