Youth Naturalist Institute

youth naturalist institute

Are you interested in environmental science and the natural world? Join us and other middle school students as we explore nature and conduct in-lab and outdoor investigations related to special topics in environmental science. Students grades 5–8 (suggested ages 10–13) meet museum scientists, ask original questions to extend our investigations, and run public activities for museum visitors to share their discoveries.

Get your middle school student outside and exploring 3 of the 4 seasons – fall, winter, and spring – with Carnegie Museum of Natural History!

  • Saturdays, 1–3 p.m. for 6 weeks
  • $100 per series (Members $85)
  • Contact Program Registration at 412.622.3288 or email
  • Payment is due at time of registration.

Youth Naturalist Institute Leadership Board

Are you a leader who likes to help plan activities and manage photographs? If so, as for a Leadership Board Application when you register! The Leadership Board provides a great opportunity for middle school students to plan workshop activities and assist in promoting the Youth Naturalist Institute. The Leadership Board meets before select workshops (noon–1 p.m.).


Past Programs

Arctic Animals
January 25, February 1, February 8+, February 15, February 22+, and March 1
+Leadership Board meets noon–1 p.m. on these dates

Learn about endangered arctic animals and how their lives are influenced by changing climate. Use the museum’s unique collections to explore adaptations of arctic. Experiment with insulation and compare how traditional Inuit and modern high tech athletic wear are designed to keep people warm in extreme environments. Compare local animals to their arctic counterparts by looking at fur and feathers under a microscope to view microstructures. Take a nature walk in Schenley Park to examine how local animal and plant life survive the winter. Design engaging activities for museum visitors to raise awareness about endangered arctic animals and ecosystems. The February 15 workshop session will meet at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium; transportation not provided.

Tropical Trek
April 5, April 12, April 19+, April 26, May 3+, and May 10
+Leadership Board meets noon–1 p.m. on these dates

Investigate diverse tropical ecosystems and learn about conservation efforts using museum dioramas and collections. Learn about unique frogs from the Amazon rainforest, and find out what it is like to travel to remote locations by talking with a museum scientist. Examine the colorful plumage of tropical birds using microscopes and chemistry to experiment with feather colors and patterns. Examine how Pennsylvania’s climate changed over millions of years using fossil evidence to piece together ancient tropical ecosystems. Showcase your discoveries for museum visitors through public activities to raise awareness about unique tropical animals and ecosystems.