We are not accepting new Living Lab field trip requests until further notice. Please email us for further information.

Please also check out our virtual field trips page for videos and activities for grades K-5.


The Living Lab School Program serves the local community and supports the mission of the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society and the Interpretive Plan of the Bellevue Botanical Garden. This free program provides quality science and botany-related educational opportunities for youth.

Living Lab is provided in autumn and spring to students in grades K-5. It is a 2-hour educational field trip/workshop. Activities are geared toward students’ grade level. Only public and private elementary teachers and home school groups may register students.

Thanks to our sponsor


We are not accepting new Living Lab field trip requests until further notice. Please email us for further information. Please also check out our virtual field trips page for videos and activities for grades K-5.

  • Free to all students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • The suggested donation is $5 per student to cover material costs. 

Thematic Grade-specific Activities

A curriculum has been developed for each grade level (K-5). Each activity aligns with the Washington State science, math or social studies CORE curriculum, as well as the Bellevue and Lake Washington school districts, and many private school curricula. The curriculum will be updated to meet the requirements of the upcoming Next Gen standards.

Classes are divided into smaller groups that participate in grade-specific activities related to the topic for the day. Groups rotate through the planned activities.

The grade level activities are:

“Tree”mendous Trees (Kindergarten): Students learn about leaves and types of trees with the focus on patterns and observation. In the first activity, they learn about the properties of leaves and make a leaf rubbing. Students make individual observations of a leaf using their senses. In the second activity, they learn about the parts of trees and their functions and do a role play.  They sort items made and not made from tree materials and make two items from wood materials to take home:  a wooden pendant and a paper plate with their age in tree rings. They also go on a walk through the garden focused on types of trees, leaves and bark texture. (FOSS: Trees & Weather)

***The old Wood Works kindergarten curriculum is no longer being offered unless specifically requested.

Zany Worms (Kindergarten): Students learn about two kinds of worms: nightcrawlers and red worms. They will examine live worms and compare them.  We talk about composting and how some worms are composters, and some are not.  They also go on a walk through the garden looking at the soils and talking about compost and the decomposers that live at the garden. (FOSS: Animals Two by Two)

Happy Habitats (1st grade) –In the animal adaptions section, students are challenged to find out which bird beaks work best with different bird foods. They will also do a craft and have an opportunity to explore insect homes and life cycles. In the second part, the focus is on food webs.  The third part of the workshop is a tour of some of the gardens with a focus on bird habitats. (FOSS: Plants and Animals)

Flower Power (1st grade–old curriculum): Students are challenged to figure out the “power of the flower.” They learn about the relationship between pollinators and flowers by participating in a hands-on discussion, making paper butterflies, and playing a pollination game. We discuss symmetry related to butterfly wings. In the second activity, students use hand lenses to observe and learn about flower parts and their function. They become the parts of the flower as they role-play the different flower parts and the way they work together.  Thirdly, they go on a walk through the garden looking for pollinators and flower parts.

Super Soils (2nd Grade): Students are challenged to find the best soil for a specific plant.   By observing four soils (pebbles, sand, clay [silt] and loam) students learn to identify each. They then experiment with “perk” tests for each soil type to discover the rate at which water percolates (flows) through them. Parts of the scientific method are highlighted, and they use pipettes and record data. They learn about the composition of soil, follow a soil recipe, and plant a hens-and-chicks plant to take home.  The students will go for a walk through the garden looking at different types of soil. (FOSS: Pebbles, Sand, and Silt)

Plant Power & Pollinators (2nd grade) – In the workshop, students will experiment with different kinds of seeds and learn about how seeds “move.”  The second part of the workshop will focus on pollination and plant parts. They will construct a paper plant to take home. The students will go for a walk through the garden looking for pollinators. (FOSS- Insects and Plants)

Measurement Madness (3rd Grade): Students are challenged to measure the height, circumference and density of trees at the garden to select a “mast” for a “ship,” as was done historically in the Pacific Northwest.  They will learn an estimation method to find the height of trees in the garden.  They will practice using measuring tapes to find the circumference of a tree. Students will also use balances to find the mass of wood samples to compare different types of wood.  We use metric measurements.

Native Plants in Our Lives (4th Grade): The group is challenged to find a village site for a pretend Snoqualmie tribe. They learn to identify 8 native plants and how they were used by local Native Americans to support their daily needs and technology. Students apply this information to a challenge in which they work together as a group to earn “survival” points and select a village site in the garden.

Plant Selection Challenge (4th or 5th grade): Students are challenged to find out information about a specific plant and then to choose where that plant would go in a pretend park environment.  They will do activities to help them learn how to find out information about plants and how to choose the “right plant for the right place”.  Students will work in small groups to find a specific plant at the botanical garden and report on the information they gain about the plant. This involves map reading and some drawing skills. Some of the vocabulary includes: soil conditions, sunlight requirements, Latin names (genus, species, family), botanist, landscaper, native species, invasive species, topography, climate zones, and hardy plants. (FOSS: Environments)

Watch the Living Lab story on “Lake to Lake,” courtesy of Bellevue Television.
Classroom Teacher comments:

“This was our second year and once again we were awed by the professional student-centered lesson and curriculum connections presented. Thank you for supporting our community.”

“My students enjoyed all of the activities! They were all age appropriate and the teachers were great!”

Our Staff and Volunteers

The Living Lab School Program is run by a staff of professional teachers, as well as our amazing volunteers. We strive to provide your students with a positive field trip experience.

Participating teachers and their students, volunteer helpers, and staff teachers are asked to evaluate their experiences with the Living Lab Program. Judging from their comments, they feel this free program, funded by the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, is valuable and serves the community well. Hands-on learning is fun and educational for all ages!

If you have questions about volunteering with Living Lab, email us. Current volunteers may sign up on Volgistics  New volunteers can apply online.