Living Lab

Living Lab is hands-on learning that is fun and educational

Living Lab

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 parents may register students.


Living Lab Spring 2019 is full. To be placed on the waiting list, please email us.


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


  • Only teachers from public and private schools, and home school parents can register students.
  • Teachers and home school parents: send an email to the manager indicating your interest. You will be notified by email when registration opens. Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Parents: contact your child’s school.

Thematic Grade-specific Activities

A curriculum has been developed for each grade level (K-5th). 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:

Wood Works (kindergarten): Students learn about wood and wood products made by early Native Americans and contemporary societies. They go on a forest adventure walk in the garden.

Flower Power (1st grade): Students discover the form and function of flowers and their pollinators.

Super Soils (2nd grade): By observing how water percolates through four different soils, students determine the best soil for the Hens and Chicks plants. Students place their plant in an environment to take home and visit the rock garden.

Measurement Madness (3rd grade): Students measure tree height, circumference, and wood density in search of a suitable mast for a fictitious ship.

Native Plants in Our Lives (4th grade): Students learn to identify native plants in the garden and their uses by local Native Americans. They apply their knowledge when they work together as a “Native American village” in a game of survival.

Garden Environments: Plant selection challenge (4th or 5th grade): Students are challenged to find plants in the garden, learn about a specific plant, and make a decision about whether it should be planted in a pretend park.

Garden Tour: Each group goes on a short tour of the garden tailored to their topic for the day. It usually includes the Tateuchi Pavilion, the Shorts Ground Cover Garden, and sometimes Rhododendron Glen or the Native Plant garden. The tour includes information-sharing about the Shorts family and the history of the garden.

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.