Thank you for your interest in bringing students to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Our buildings are currently closed due to COVID-19, and we are uncertain about when we will open to the public again. If you would like to register your interest in scheduling a field trip when the NCAR Mesa Lab reopens, please fill out this form or email Tiffany Fourment, and we will contact you when we begin scheduling again.

Field Trip Planning Guide: FAQs | Reservation Checklist | Reserve Your Date | Preparing for a Field Trip | After Your Field Trip

Students participating in a learning lab at the NCAR Mesa Lab

Before Making Your Reservation:

Make sure you have the following information before contacting us to schedule your field trip:

  • Your preferred field trip date/s. Field trip programs generally run 10am-12pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. (field trips are scheduled on a first come, first served basis and slots fill up quickly)
  • Information about your group, including age/grade of the students and number of students, teachers, and chaperones (an 8:1 ratio is suggested). Max group size is 50 students. 
  • Transportation to NCAR, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, 80305
  • Information about any individuals with disabilities or other needs requiring accommodation
  • Your preferred Learning Lab
  • Contact information for you and/or your school for the day of the field trip
  • Plans for lunch (if applicable)
  • An email address and phone number for the main contact from your group

Learning Labs

The NCAR Visitor Center offers a wide variety of Science Learning Labs for students of all ages. Check out the Labs below!

Jump to a section:

Grades K - 1

Grades 2 - 3

Grades 4 - 5

Grades 6 - 8

Grades 9 - 12

Grades K - 1:

Name That Cloud: Observe and identify different types of clouds. Students will also model their favorite clouds and watch a cloud burst into action. Weather permitting, we will go out on our weather trail and use the NCAR cloud viewer to identify the clouds by their scientific names.

Grades 2 - 3:

Air: A Piece of the Weather Puzzle: Students experiment with soapy water to see how changing the temperature in a bottle changes how the air behaves. This lab is designed to help students explore the properties of convection.

Weather Trail Discovery: Students embark upon a scavenger hunt to see firsthand how weather impacts our surroundings. While walking we’ll be looking for and learning about the wonders that exist in NCAR’s backyard. Students will use weather instruments to learn how scientists collect and use data to understand weather.

Exploring Earth's Polar Regions: Arctic and Antarctic regions of the Earth are discussed in this Learning Lab. Students learn how penguins communicate and care for their young and what keeps polar bears warm.

Grades 4 - 5:

Simply Shocking: Students will learn about lightning safety and electricity in the atmosphere. We explore why some clouds have an electrical charge and how charge separation creates lightning. Activities include learning the parts of an atom, generating a static charge, and interacting with a Van de Graaff generator.

Under Pressure: Recount the historic 2005 Atlantic hurricane season with its many named storms, devastation, and hurricanes such as Katrina and Wilma, and also look at the current hurricane season. Find out how air pressure and ocean temperatures impact hurricanes. Student activities address atmospheric pressure, the Bernoulli principle, and how hurricanes impact the Earth.

Water Cycle Dynamics: Students explore where water is found in the Earth system. Students learn about the percentage and distribution of salt versus fresh water and explore how water impacts Earth’s living organisms. The water cycle game is included in this Learning Lab.

Modeling the Sky: Inside Weather Data: Students learn how meteorologists use weather instruments to collect data to inform the development of weather models and forecasts. Activities include using infrared temperature thermometers and hand-held weather stations to observe the current atmospheric conditions.

What's Up with Climate Change? Earth's Changing Weather, Over Time: Explore the basics of climate change, including greenhouse gases and their contribution to rising global temperatures, impacts of climate change in Colorado, and solutions for reducing human impact.

Grades 6 - 8:

Computer Models and Data Visualization: Learn how NCAR supports scientists in their use of mathematical models through the high-resolution animation of the Earth's complex systems. We’ll use augmented reality to see how these models represent weather and climate.

Modeling the Sky: Inside Weather Data: Students learn how meteorologists use weather instruments to collect data to inform the development of weather models and forecasts. Activities include using infrared temperature thermometers and hand-held weather stations to observe the current atmospheric conditions.

What's Up with Climate Change? Earth's Changing Weather, Over Time: Explore the basics of climate change, including greenhouse gases and their contribution to rising global temperatures, impacts of climate change in Colorado, and solutions for reducing human impact.

Grades 9 - 12:

Please note that we welcome individualized program requests.

Computer Models and Data Visualization: Learn how NCAR supports scientists in their use of mathematical models through the high-resolution animation of the Earth's complex systems. We’ll use augmented reality to see how these models represent weather and climate, and students will engage in a kinesthetic group activity exploring the dynamic, complex nature of systems.

Next step: Reserve Your Date