The Virginia Tech Biological Sciences Outreach Program, "SOuP", supports K-12 outreach education and encourages the growth of K-12 participation in research. SOuP works as part of the VT-STEM (VT-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Outreach Initiative to form partnerships that support the University outreach mission. Researchers in the biosciences and geosciences can utilize the education outreach programs of SOuP to enhance their grant proposals.
(For more information on our partner program, including info on the VT Museum of Geosciences, visit Geosciences Outreach ("Stone SOuP").)
SOuP's MINTS Project was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to encourage hands-on, inquiry-based science using local environments as laboratories. The MINTS Book is still a much requested resource for teachers and community groups working to encourage outdoor learning for youth through the The Children and Nature Network and other concerns around the No Child Left Inside Act (2009 H.R. 2054). Thanks to the generous, collaborative efforts of the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education, The MINTS Book is now available online through the Geosciences Outreach page.
MINTS Hands-on Science Kit Science tools, such as hand lenses, thermometers, and pH paper. Ideal for indoor or outdoor science activities and is large enough to support a class of 20-30 students. (2 kits)
Plant Biology/Plants and Society education kits and resources *SOL*:MINTS (Science in the Schoolyard with many plant-related inquiries); Stream and River vegetation (Riparian zone ecology, 1 Kit); Plants and Society (How plants are used in technology and medicine, 2 Kits)
The Backboned Seven Activities and pictures to assist students in learning the seven classes of vertebrates. Includes specimens and picture wheels to assist in identification. (1 kit) *SOL*
Bat Kit Contains books, brochures, and activities about bats, bat conservation, and bat "fact and fiction." Kits includes an assembled bat box, a "Bat and Moth" game, and bat masks. (1 kit) *SOL*
Birds Kit Includes study skins of some common birds and materials to aid in teaching about birds: posters and graphics, a field guide, activities, bones and feathers, and a bird song tape. (1 kit) *SOL*
Insect Kit Includes specimens commonly found in Virginia, the US, as well as some unusual insects found in other countries. Includes activities for investigating insects. (1 kit) *SOL*
Mammal Kit Contains specimens and bones of mammals common to Virginia, a field guide to animal tracks, a key to mammal skulls, and a handbook with additional information and activities. (1 kit) *SOL*
Paper Making Kit Provides materials and instructions to make paper and to learn how to use recycled paper. Material is provided with this kit to accommodate an average-sized class. (1 kit) *SOL*
Wolf Kit The kit contains materials that collectively explain the past and current wolf situation in North America, the wolf's role in biodiversity, wolf biology, and wolf social characteristics. Included are the teacher's guide Wolves and Humans, story and activity books, a video, and four wolf posters. (1 kit available) *SOL*
Save Our Streams Kit (SOS) This kit contains stream monitoring equipment for the citizens stream quality survey of the Izaak Walton League. Participants determine stream quality by inspecting the number and types of insects and other aquatic organisms. Training workshops are held twice a year. Field assistance upon request. (8 kits) *SOL*
SOS Critter Kit This kit is a collection of local stream-dwelling insects and other animals preserved in alcohol in glass vials, with an identification key. (Included in each SOS kit: 3 extra available)
Geology Kit 1: Local Sedimentary Rocks This kit consists of a sample of the rocks from southwestern Virginia with accompanying maps, aerial photos, and geologic interpretation. (12 kits) *SOL*
Geology Kit 2: Labeling Your Rock and Mineral Collections This kit contains material and information to introduce a class-sized group to the basics of labeling and cataloging their own rock and mineral collections (1 kit). *SOL*
Dinomite Kit VMNH "Science-To-Go" kit is a hands-on program about dinosaurs. The kit includes an educator's guide, dinosaur video, dinosaur posters and books, an activity book, and many models exhibiting various dinosaur types and characteristics. (4 kits)
Karst Groundwater Kit This kit illustrates water movement underground in karst terrain vs. sand aquifers, the relationships between surface water and groundwater, how we pollute our water resources, and how groundwater is replenished and depleted. (3 kits) *SOL*
Virginia Coastal Plain Fossils VMNH "Science-To-Go" kit includes a comprehensive teacher's background guide explaining the geology and geography of the Virginia coastal plain and the importance of the fossil record, index fossils, geologic time, and more. A geologic map of VA, a teacher's activity guide, and sample fossils from four geologic periods are included. (1 kit) *SOL*
Virginia Piedmont Rocks VMNH "Science-To-Go" kit includes a teacher's background guide describing the formation and appearance of the oldest and youngest rocks in the Piedmont; 12 samples of metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rocks; one fossil sample; and a geologic map of Virginia. (1 kit) *SOL*
Weather Kit The kit includes a field guide to weather, information on severe weather, pictures of different forecasting methods, videos, and other weather-related items. (1 kit available) *SOL*
ERC Specimens. The following are examples of teaching specimens available for short-term loan: Mammals of Virginia, Birds of Virginia, Freshwater Mussels, Fossils, Rocks of Virginia, Minerals of Virginia
- Virginia Museum of Natural History
- American Museum of Natural History
- National Museum of Natural History
- Kuban's Guide to Natural History Museums on the Web
- Meta-list of Natural History Museums and Collections (University of Washington)
- Smithsonian Institute
- Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
- Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society
SOuP has several environmentally-related portable exhibits:
New River Watershed This exhibit will describe the water cycle, geography, geology, ecology, and issues concerning our most rich and diverse New River Watershed.
Bird Nest and Egg Exhibit This exhibit describes the different types of nests and how/why they are built, and some examples of each from collections, and some interesting facts on eggs, color and camouflage, for example, with some specimens from collections to go with the nests.
Common Small Mammals of VA This exhibit is very similar to our Bird Exhibit. Some examples of specimens that are included are gray squirrel, raccoon, eastern chipmunk, house mouse, VA opossum, woodchuck, brown bat, and beaver. These mammals will all be labeled.
Naturalists' Center and Kid's Nature Nook
Displays on natural history of local attractions gives the opportunity to explore different aspects of widely recognized sites such as the Virginia Tech Duck Pond, Cascades Recreation Area, Appalachian Trail, and the New River.
Hands-on displays allow you to observe and appreciate natural objects including snake skins and feathers. We provide art supplies for making leaf rubbings and stenciling an assortment of animals. Bring your creativity and your thinking cap to the Nature Nook.
Mini-exhibits include: Virginia Save Our Streams Program, VTMNH Saturday Science, Virginia's rock and fossil, and artwork from Virginia Tech students.
Exhibits support SOL's. Click here to view the supported SOL's on particular exhibits or activities.
Museum of Geological Sciences
2062 Derring Hall, Virginia Tech
Hours: 8-4 Monday-Friday
Minerals and Their Uses
Exhibits include gemstone and fossil collections, a working seismograph, a full-scale model of an Allosaurus and the largest permanent display of Virginia minerals in the state. See also the displays: "Minerals and Their Uses" and "Rocks of Virginia".
The Gift Shop has rocks, minerals, fossils, and other gifts for sale.
Admission is free.
The Museum of Geological Sciences is located in 2062 Derring Hall on the Virginia Tech campus. Open 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 540-231-3001 at least two weeks in advance to arrange group tours.
SEEDS-Blacksburg House Nature Center
Operated by SEEDS at Blacksburg's historic Price House and gardens. Rain or shine....nature discovery for children right downtown. It's a museum and more for children and the young at heart! In partnership with the Town of Blacksburg Dept. of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Biological Sciences. For more information, including hours and directions, visit the Nature Center's Facebook page (no log-in necessary).