Science Field Trips in Des Moines

Iowa has been on the cutting edge of science and technology. Plan a field tirp for your students, and visit these great places for hands-on stem learning.

Ten Educational Science Experiences in Des Moines

Apple Store Field Trip

Offering more than just consumer purchases and assistance, Apple Stores host unique field trips for students and teachers.

There are several different trip themes and topics based on the needs of each student group.  Topics include movie making, coding, robotics, and more. Apple also offers teacher workshops and resources.

In addition, free, weekly activities are available for the whole family. Check with your local Apple Store’s calendar to find out what’s happening near you.

Apple Store Field Trip

Iowa Public Television Station – Johnston 

Iowa Public Television Station offers guided tours and hands-on stem projects. Students can go behind-the-scenes to learn about the latest broadcast technology or do group activities in the studio classroom. 

IPTV provides educational resources for Iowa teachers. Visit the station and get connected in your classroom!

Kids clubhouse set at Iowa Public Television on a field trip

Science Center of Iowa

The Science Center of Iowa can host large groups of students for hands-on science activities and classroom engagement. Displays include air & space, motion, nature, and more. 

As a participant of the ASTC Travel Passport Reciprocal Program, a SCI membership benifit is free admission to hundreds of museums across the country. 


Blank Park Zoo

The Blank Park Zoo is an excellent smaller zoo and is perfect for younger children but diverse enough for older students as well. There are several hands-on programs and times when you can feed animals.


Frog Pond

Sitting below Saylorville Dam is Cottonwood Recreational Area, home to the best frog pond in central Iowa. Pack a picnic, bring along some nets, and your nature journal to enjoy a sunny afternoon observing wildlife. 


Enabling Garden

Polk County Master Gardeners created the Enabling Garden for people of all abilities to enjoy and learn about gardening. There are smooth paths, easy access to the flowers, and a musical children’s garden. 

Check out the website to find all the events for learning programs and children’s art workshops that take place in this amazing garden.

Enabling Garden in Altoona Iowa


Polk County Conservation

Polk County Conservation officers host a series of educational hikes, programs, and field trips in parks and community centers around the metro. Visit the new nature center at Jester Park near Granger. 

Jester Park Naturalist


Visit an Iowa Farm

All Iowa students should have an opportunity to visit an Iowa farm. Here are seven ways to connect with a farmer and how to prepare for a farm field trip. 

Picket Fence Creamery in Woodward is a family owned dairy farm suppling local grocery stores with high quality products.  Kids will love to hold the kittens and pet the calf while learning about the milking process, pasteurization, and preparing of products during the hour long tour.

Cow eating hay at Picket Fence Creamery

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge 

Just east of the metro, the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is huge with over 11,000 acres. Giving an expansive sense of prairie, a long twisting paved road leads you through a few miles of tall grass prairie to the visitor center. It’s easy to imagine Laura Ingalls riding in a covered wagon across such a land.

The Prairie Learning and Visitor Center is well-designed for large groups of students but still small enough for families to enjoy.

Bison skin and bones that can be touched in the Visitor Center at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Other Recommendations

National Balloon Museum in Indianola is staffed by very knowledgeable volunteers who are experienced in ballooning and have flown hot air balloons.

 The museum offers the history of ballooning and has over two dozen baskets on display.  Our younger students had fun watching a film about a clown who flies in a hot air balloons and answering quiz questions at the end of the film.

Dietitians with Hy-Vee Food stores offer a wonderful field trip for students based on the My Plate program. Tours typically last around a half hour as groups wander throughout the store. My children left the tour wanting to try new vegetables. 

ISU Insect Zoo brings creepy crawlers and an exciting hands-on educational experience to classrooms and community centers anywhere in Iowa. Students can also visit the one room museum on 4th floor of Science II building on the ISU campus in Ames. 

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a iconic highlight in the downtown metro area. Seated along the Des Moines River, the Garden encompasses seven acres of beauty and nature. Students will enjoy discovering rainforest, desert plants, serene landscape, and more.

Don’t overlook smaller museums. I find that when visiting a smaller museum, the children learn more because there is a specific focus. Instead of spending a lot of time running around trying to “see everything” that some larger museums offer, the children spend more time on a few high quality exhibits.

For more information, visit Teaching Iowa History, which is a repository of lesson plans and links to other educational resources.

With over ten educational science experiences in the Des Moines Metro, it’s easy to plan your next class field trip or family excursion.

Looking for history field trips? Visit Over Ten Historical Field Trips in Des Moines

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