Environmental Education - Discovery Room Outline
for the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Below you can find a description of what kinds of activities to expect during your group's Discovery Room Program.

Click here to return to the Environmental Education home page

Environmental Educational Activity

Discovery Room

Description: (45 min) Visit the Sacramento NWR’s diorama and wildlife exhibits. Give an introduction to waterfowl and show a video about refuges. Worksheets are available for grades 1-6 to help students get a hands-on look at the birds and wildlife that live at the refuge.

Goals: Expose students to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, and create an understanding and appreciation of the diverse wildlife, habitat, and recreational opportunities at the Sacramento NWR Complex.

Objectives: Will vary by grade level according to CA State Standards. Review worksheet and standards before program and ensure program criteria is met. By the end of the program, the students will be able to:

  • define a waterfowl
  • name 3 types of waterfowl
  • compare and contrast bird eggs and nests.

Vocabulary: waterfowl, USFWS, National Wildlife Refuge

Materials: USFWS video, set up room (eggs and nests), worksheets, pencils


  • The Discovery Room heats up very quickly with the doors closed and many students inside. Change the thermostat 1-2 degrees when needed. Remember to return it how it was when finished.
  • Prepare the television and video ahead of time. Check the volume and that the channel is correct. Set out the appropriate stations according to the worksheet as to not crowd the students.
  • Be sure to pick the appropriate worksheet and set the room up ahead of time so the stations match the worksheet.
  • Have parent helpers with the groups to assist the students.


  • Entry to building (2 minutes)
    • Line up the students outside the building, have them quiet and explain the following things before entering the building:
      • This is a “working office”. That means many people are working and talking on the phones. It is VERY important that we are quiet while inside. You can talk using an “inside voice”. NO running or loud voices inside. Use respect.
      • You will see a diorama inside that has various birds in different habitats. These birds are not alive but are real (only if they ask, just say you don’t know how they died).
      • Please walk quietly and quickly into the Discovery Room and have a seat.
      • Please DO NOT TOUCH the birds mounts in the Discovery Room—it ruins them and their feathers fall out and they don’t grow back.
  • Give them the instructions now for what you want them to do inside the room. Example: Please sit on the floor facing the television.

Part 1: VIDEO (15 min)

  • The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and there are National Wildlife Refuges all across the country.
  • What is a National Wildlife Refuge? Agency within the Department of the Interior and the US Fish & Wildlife Service whose mission it is to manage designated public lands (refuges) for conserving wildlife, habitat, and biodiversity for the benefit of the current and future generations
  • Let’s take a look at a video showing the refuges throughout the country what animals live there.
  • Keep your eyes open for things people can do in some Refuges!
  • Play video: Be sure to be in the room when the video finishes!

Part 2: Short question/comment period (no more than 5 minutes)

  • Introduce Refuge map. Currently ~561 NWRs across the nation. Different habitat for different wildlife
  • What are Refuges for? Provide home/habitat for wildlife and plants.
  • How does refuge staff make a good home for animals? Disc, burn (good fire), grow certain plants, monitor wildlife, etc.
  • What kinds of things can you do at a refuge? Picnic, take photos, go fishing, hunting, watch wildlife, hiking, snorkel, environmental educational programs, interpretive weekend programs, etc.

Part 3: Worksheet (15 min) 

  • Introduce the worksheet and explain what the students will accomplish at each station.
  • Break the students into groups (divided by number of stations) usually groups of 3-5 work well with parent helpers to assist the students.
  • Instruct them to put their name at the top.
  • Send the first two groups into diorama area
  • Please do not lean on/put your fingers on the windows of diorama
  • Remind them to use their inside voices

Part 4: Review Worksheet (5 min)

  • Review each station

For the Discovery Room worksheet and to get back to the main Environmental Education page, click here.

Story Tags

Environmental education