Elementary Programs: Bring natural and cultural history, and science, up close for your students. Elementary school programs are 45 minutes. With advanced notice, these can be adapted to meet your needs. Please limit two programs per visit. If you are 15 minutes late or more, your first program could be cancelled. All programs meet Nebraska State Standards and are aligned with Hastings Public School’s Key Concepts and Essentials. Call to schedule your program today, (402) 461-2399.


Animal Survival

In this class, we will visit several habitats and investigate how animals change their environment to meet their needs. Students will play a habitat game, build food chain bracelets, and find real examples of the five basic needs in the museum’s dioramas.


Inventing Kool-Aid

As we tour our Kool-Aid exhibit, we will find out what life was like in the early 1900s when this tasty treat was invented. Students will explore our early general store and learn about wants versus needs, see other products by the inventor of Kool-Aid, and smell the original flavors. We will also paint with Kool-Aid and invent our own fruity mix to drink!


Growing Up Pawnee

Join us as we learn about how Pawnee children grew up on the open plains over 150 years ago. Together we will perfect our hunting technique, see real bison objects, grind corn, and practice our drilling skills. We will end the class learning about traditional Pawnee games and re-create one to take home.


Out Of This World

Time to blast off into outer space! Join us as we learn about the Earth’s rotation and orbit around the sun in a hands-on experiment. We will then go into the J.M. McDonald Planetarium to see the constellations move in the night sky, as well as discover the moon phases.


Ecosystem Explorers

Science and nature collide in this class! We will discover how plants disperse their seeds and investigate pollination while taking on the role of bees. As we explore different ecosystems, students will learn how animals adapt to their habitat, while sometimes changing their environment to suit their needs. We will tie it all together by building an ideal ecosystem with LEGO bricks.


Kool-Aid Success

In our Kool-Aid exhibit, students will learn how Edwin Perkins grew Kool-Aid into a world-wide success. Students will see how trains helped play a role in Kool-Aid’s growth, as well as how this tasty treat beat out the competition through brand recognition and marketing. We will end with packaging some Kool-Aid to take home.


Hastings History

Join us as we travel back in time to learn about the early years in Hastings. Students will build railroad tracks as they discover the role trains played in shaping Adams County, including a very hostile fight over the county seat. We will also discuss the first residents in town, explore the impact of a huge downtown fire, and try a bucket brigade relay!


Sea Monsters

We’ll get up close to life-size models that swam in Nebraska’s early inland sea. Students will investigate the four different types of fossils, see and touch real specimens, and discover what fossil evidence can and cannot tell us about the past. They will cast their own fossils, and dig up clues of prehistoric life while working as a team to piece it all together.


Kool-Aid: Surviving the Times

Journey back with us to the humble beginnings of Kool-Aid. We will discover how this tasty treat went worldwide, survived a name change, the Great Depression, and a world war. Students will play a rationing game (with pizza!), test their knowledge of Kool-Aid flavors, and end with a fun Kool-Aid experiment!


Rocks and Minerals

Join us for this rockin’ program as students explore rocks and minerals through hands-on experiences. We will examine large quartz crystals to help us identify the characteristics of a mineral and apply that to other samples on exhibit. Students will view glow-in-the dark specimens under UV lights, learn about the three types of rocks and sort their own examples, and use clay to model the rock cycle process.


Pawnee in Nebraska

Before settlers came to Nebraska, the Pawnee tribe lived on the open plains. Join us as we investigate parts of the bison to figure out their use, practice our hunting skills, and learn Pawnee symbols while making winter count slap bracelets. We will end the class by examining how the Pawnee kept their traditions alive after their forced removal from Nebraska.


Tremendous Trees

Join us outside in the Arboretum as we learn about tremendous trees. Students will become parts of a tree while modeling how they all work together to keep the tree alive. We will also find out how trees make food and analyze tree cookies. The class will end with students acting like trees as they reach for the resources they need to survive. 


Nature’s Engergy

In this class, students will explore the flow of energy through plants and animals in various ecosystems. They will create a food web using multiple food chains, act out the photosynthesis processes, dig into the importance of decomposers, and put it all together with a hands-on web of life activity.

Program Fees

Reservations are required for all school programs. Please contact the Museum at (402) 461-2399.

Note: Films do require an admission fee, but there are discounts for schools and groups. Just contact the Museum for details.

Schools within Hastings city limits

Free admission to the Museum, school programs, and the planetarium. Films and occasional special programs are an exception and may include a fee – just check with Museum staff.

Schools outside Hastings city limits

$3.00 admission covers the Museum, programs, and the planetarium. Films and occasional special programs are an exception and may include an additional fee – just check with Museum staff.