Field Trips | Reserve Your Field Trip

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Learning Labs

A Learning Lab is a 2-hour experience that includes an exhibit tour and classroom activity. The 45-minute classroom activity incorporates hands-on activities and has been specifically designed for different grade bands. During the field trip, students will also go on a 45-minute tailored tour of the NCAR Mesa Lab that aligns with the subjects from the selected Learning Lab. This provides an opportunity for more in-depth learning about your topic. Our labs are designed for PreK-12th grades and are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards. Field trips to the NCAR Mesa Lab are free, but transportation and lunch are not included.

School Year Learning Labs:

  • Cloud Detectives (Grades PreK-K): Send your students’ curious minds soaring as they explore the science of clouds. Through song, story, art, and play, students will learn about the many different types of clouds. Students will touch a cloud and watch a cloud burst into action. Weather permitting, this Learning Lab may include a short cloud walk outside on the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail.
  • Air: A Piece of the Weather Puzzle (Grades 1-3): Did you know a typical cumulonimbus cloud can weigh as much as 253 blue whales? How does it stay up in the sky?! Explore how the sun affects our Earth’s weather with an interactive experiment comparing hot and cold air. Transform your students into cloud detectives as we explore this cloudy mystery together and learn how air behaves when it changes temperature.
  • Weather Trail Discovery (Grades 2-3): Calling all weather explorers! Students embark upon an outdoor science scavenger hunt to see firsthand how weather impacts our surroundings. While walking on the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail, we’ll use scientific instruments to look for and learn about the weather wonders in NCAR’s backyard. Note: A significant portion of this program takes place outside, so students will need to dress appropriately for the weather and wear shoes for walking on a dirt trail. If the weather is severe enough to restrict us from going outside that day, we will switch your Learning Lab to a different program that can be run inside.
  • Sky Sleuths: Inside Weather Data (Grades 3-5): Put your detective hats on as we discover what clues scientists use to create weather forecasts. We’ll explore how meteorologists gather weather data from around the world and use supercomputers and models to create the forecasts that help us plan our lives and stay safe. Your meteorologists-in-training will team up to gather real weather data outside the NCAR classroom, then graph and analyze their own atmospheric data. Note: A short portion of this program takes place outside, so students should dress appropriately for the weather and wear shoes for walking on a dirt trail.
  • Simply Shocking (Grades 3-5): Nature provides a spectacular show when lightning strikes. Students explore this hair-raising phenomenon to discover what lightning is and how it forms. Turn your students into a thunderstorm, and discover that while there are many kinds of lightning, there are simple ways we can stay safe from this stunning weather hazard. 
  • What's Up with Climate Change? Earth's Changing Weather, Over Time (Grades 4-8): 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.
  • For grades 9-12, we welcome individualized program requests. Email our School and Public Programs team at to talk about setting up a field trip for this age group.

Learning Lab Visual Schedules

Help your students get prepared for each step of the field trip and gain confidence in independence by using our Visual Schedules. This resource is specifically developed for students with ASD or related disabilities, but can be beneficial for anyone! 

Additional Visual Schedules coming soon. 

Before Making Your Reservation:

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

  1. Your preferred Learning Lab, listed above.
  2. Your preferred field trip dates - you will need to provide 3 preferred dates along with any general availability. School year field trip programs run from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm MT on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. We ask you to request field trip dates at least 3 weeks in advance, however, tend to book up 4 months in advance. Please note that field trips are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  3. Information about your group, including student’s grade(s), number of students, and an estimated number of teachers/chaperones (an 8:1 student-to-adult ratio is suggested). Please remember our field trip group sizes are limited to 10-50 students. If your group is larger than 50, you will be split into programs across multiple days.
  4. Information about any individuals with disabilities or needs requiring accommodation.
  5. Contact information for you and any other educators for the day of the field trip.
  6. Plans for lunch (if applicable).
  7. Transportation to the NCAR Mesa Lab, located at 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305.

Making Your Reservation:

We are currently accepting field trip reservation requests for Spring 2024 (January 2024 - May 2024). We are fully booked for the Fall 2023 semester. 

To request a program, please fill out our NCAR Mesa Lab In-Person Program Request Form

To stay in the loop with reservation and program announcements, sign up for our monthly K-12 newsletter.

Our team will be in touch about the program within ten (10) business days. If you have any questions or need to make adjustments to a submitted request, please email the School and Public Programs team


To cancel a confirmed field trip, please email us at least two weeks in advance. If a last-minute cancellation is necessary, please email us or call 303.497.2401 as soon as possible.


Next step: Prepare for a Field Trip