Field Trips | Prepare for Your Field Trip

Preparing for a field trip

The National Center for Atmospheric Research's field trip program is only possible with the assistance of chaperones who accompany visiting groups. Along with students' teachers and our educators, chaperones help ensure that the visit to NCAR is a success. We appreciate your support in supervising group members during the field trip! All adults on the field trip can review our Field Trip Information document to be prepared for the visit.

Before your visit

  • Explore the UCAR and NCAR websites and watch the video, Air • Planet • People, so that you can answer basic questions from students about the organization.
  • Make sure you know how to get to the NCAR Mesa Lab. Review where the drop-off area is, where to park, and the path to the front doors with our Parking Map. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about your arrival.
    • School and Public Programs Phone: 303.497.2401
    • Mesa Lab Front Desk Phone: 303.497.1126
  • We ask chaperones to avoid bringing their student's siblings. Your presence and availability to answer students' questions during the field trip is very important!
  • To prepare for the field trip, make sure you have answers from the teacher or program leader to the following questions:
    • Do I know the driving directions and parking information? How will the group be getting to the Mesa Lab?
    • What is the date, time, and length of the field trip? What time do we need to leave?
    • How many students are in my group? Do any of them have special needs?
    • What are the behavior expectations during the field trip, and what should be done if they are being ignored?
    • Should I pack my own lunch or bring money to buy my lunch in NCAR's cafe?
    • Will the group be going outside during the field trip? If so, what are the appropriate attire and accessories? Will we need to bring sunscreen and water bottles?

Social Narrative

Help set expectations with your students for your field trip by using our Field Trip Social Narrative document. This tool has been developed for visitors with ASD or other associated disabilities, but can be used by anyone!


Preparations on the day of your visit

  • Don't forget:
    • Your cell phone and any necessary phone numbers
    • Directions to NCAR's Mesa Lab, if driving
    • A list of students in your group
    • Any other information that the teacher/program leader has provided to chaperones
    • Money to purchase a lunch at NCAR or a packed lunch, if needed
  • Other useful things to bring include tissues, a small first-aid kit, sunscreen, wipes, an umbrella, a camera, a watch, water, a pen, and paper.

During the Field Trip

Have students leave their backpacks in the vehicle(s) and bring their lunches with them inside, if they'll be eating lunch at NCAR. Walk with the group to the building's main entrance and have students gather in the lobby while you check in with the NCAR front desk.

Typically, a field trip to NCAR will last approximately two hours plus time to eat at the Mesa Lab. School groups are welcome to explore the hiking trails behind NCAR after their trip, which is not included as a part of our experience. (Although some groups may go out on the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail as a part of their Learning Lab.) Field trips typically include a tailored tour of the facility, a Learning Lab experience, time in the exhibits, and lunch. Check with your teacher/program leader for specifics about your visit.

Helpful tips for chaperones:

  • Get to know the names and personalities of the students in your care. Make sure that they also know your name in case they have questions!
  • Establish a positive rapport with your students but ensure that they know you will enforce the behavioral expectations reviewed by the teacher/event leader.
  • Model respectful and inquisitive behavior and be present during the field trip. When outside, encourage and show respect for nature and foster observational skills on the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail.
  • Please encourage students to question, investigate, and talk about what they see and experience with each other, you, and NCAR staff.
  • Stay with your assigned students at all times. Make sure that they know they are not to leave you. The NCAR Mesa Lab is a big building with areas that aren't open to the public, so it's important that students stay with their group.
  • Instruct all your students to go immediately to the NCAR Front Desk if lost or separated from the group. The front desk staff will ensure that the student is promptly escorted back to their group.
  • Middle school or younger students must be escorted to the restrooms. Coordinate with another chaperone so that both boys and girls have escorts.
  • Please turn off or mute your cell phone as a courtesy to others. If you must take a call, please step outside of the classroom or away from the tour group.
  • Chaperones may use the cafeteria as long as another adult supervises their students. If any students forget their lunch, please notify the teacher and your Mesa Lab educator so that food can be arranged.
  • Please help students use NCAR's recycling, composting, and trash bins. Your Mesa Lab educator or Cafeteria staff will also be happy to assist you.

NCAR's student expectations:

The following expectations will be reviewed with students upon arrival. Feel free to review with your students prior to arriving at NCAR:

  • Because NCAR is a place of business, please use inside voices at all times, both inside and outside of the facility. 
  • Always walk while inside the facility.
  • Stay with your chaperone and group throughout the visit.
  • If separated from your group, go to the NCAR Front Desk. The staff will help you find your group.
  • Questions are highly encouraged throughout the field trip! Please also explore the exhibits and the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail respectfully and appropriately.
  • Most important of all, have fun!


NEXT STEP: After Your Field Trip