ESC Field Study Programs
The Environmental Science Center (ESC) team offers 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade SFUSD classes a free field study program to provide students with meaningful and engaging science exploration in Golden Gate Park, McLaren Park, and Fort Funston. Our field studies are guided day hikes including engaging lessons and experiential learning that align with NGSS standards.
3rd Grade Field Studies
Students will participate in field studies, by walking in the park with a Naturalist to learn about science in the outdoors at Golden Gate Park or McLaren Park and learn about habitats.
3rd-grade field studies focus on habitats and what makes habitats similar or different from each other. Students observe two areas in order to compare if they are the same or different habitats. During the program, the students collect and record evidence to support their claims.
3-LS4-3: Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
The application is closed for the 23/24 school year. Please reach out to the naturalist team to be placed on our waitlist.
Teacher Information (SFUSD Staff Only)
Golden Gate Park: Chain of Lakes - We meet near the Chain of Lakes Restrooms building.
John McLaren Park - We meet at the Yosemite Marsh area.
4th/5th Grade Field Studies
Students will participate in field studies, by walking in the park with a Naturalist to learn about science in the outdoors at Fort Funston and learn about either ecosystems or structure and function. All field studies for 4th/5th grade include an overnight experience.
Naturalists will guide students in activities and lessons that help students appreciate and understand the natural world and make connections with nature in our community.
Fourth grade field studies focus on structure and function through exploring the different wildlife at Fort Funston. Students explore different animals and plants to learn about their adaptations and how they survive in their environment. Fourth graders also apply concepts of structure, function and adaptations into the plant and animal ecosystem of Fort Funston.
Fifth-grade field studies focus on ecosystems through exploring and learning about living organisms, non-living things, and human impact at Fort Funston. Students make observations to learn about how different organisms interact with their environment. Fifth graders also expand their knowledge about ecosystems and identify abiotic and biotic components of the Fort Funston ecosystem.
Both 4th and 5th grade classes will participate in a restoration activity in partnership with the National Park Service.
Teachers are provided with pre- and post-trip resources to expand on these concepts. These include Common Core concepts and will support students in and outside the classroom. A few concepts we focus on during the program are:
- Nature journaling and scientific drawing
- Practicing zero waste, leave no trace and honorable harvest principles
- Interactive student centered curriculum with an emphasis on NGSS.
The SFUSD Environmental Science Center overnight field trip at Fort Funston focuses on extending students' learning experience to the outdoors, with a focus on science and environmental stewardship. Fort Funston is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is located on Skyline Boulevard, just a few miles south of the San Francisco Zoo. Our hope is that the students will create memories with their school community that spark care and curiosity for the nature around them.
Here is a sample schedule of your time at Fort Funston. Highlights of the overnight program include:
- Set up a tent
- Eat and relax outdoors
- Hike on the bluffs and the beach
- Night hike
- Sit around a campfire
- Sleep in a national park
- Have an adventure with classmates
NGSS (see Below)
4-LS1-1: Students who demonstrate understanding can construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
5-LS2-1: Students who demonstrate understanding can develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
The application is closed for 4th and 5th grade overnights for the 23/24 school year. Please reach out to the naturalist team to be added to our waitlist.
Teacher Information (SFUSD Staff Only)
This page was last updated on November 1, 2023