P'unk Ave

Access Programs

Riverbend is committed to providing high-quality nature-based STEM programs for economically disadvantaged children living in urban communities. Our access programs incorporate multiple experiences where students can connect with nature -- at Riverbend and in their own neighborhoods.


Headstart: Riverbend on the Road Series

Riverbend offers a four-part series engaging pre-Kindergarten children in nature discovery and related science.  Students step into the role of scientists to explore through science inquiry. Topics may include classification, life cycles, structure and differences between living and nonliving things.  Utilizing live animals, touchable artifacts and hands- on activities, students will use their senses to observe, sort, and categorize animals based on their basic structures, adaptations, life cycles and needs. 
Programs address Pennsylvania Early Childhood Standards in Scientific Thinking and Technology

Standards Addressed: 3.1A, 3.3A, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5

The four-part program will include a 30-45 minute lesson/classroom on each of the following topics:  

  • 1.  Wildlife Investigation: Learn all about animal classification and native species!
  • 2. Eggs to Legs: Life cycles of plants and animals, including frogs, butterflies and birds.
  • 3. Winter Wildlife: Learn about changing seasons and how animals prepare for winter.
  • 4. Nature’s Superheroes: Students conduct an investigation to learn how animals adapt and survive in their habitat.

“The children continue to recall information they learned in their Riverbend lessons well into the school year. Our presenter came to our school in February and our students were recalling information about the experience in June when we visited a community garden.”  

—Blaine Head Start Teacher

Cost to underwrite:

$650 for one series in one classroom


Norristown Area School District: Third and Fourth Grade Nature-based STEM Learning

Partnering with NASD since 2006, Riverbend offers a three-part program that includes a pre-lesson, field trip and post-lesson for every third and fourth grade student at the six elementary schools in this Title 1 District. Approximately 1,300 children and up to 50 teachers from the six elementary schools participate annually.

Programs for third grade students, who study Water and Watersheds, take place in the spring and programs for fourth grade students, who study Ecosystems and Their Interactions, take place in the fall.

Programs address the PA Core Curriculum Framework for third and fourth grade science.  

Academic Standards include: 3.1, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5


“The program emphasizes essential critical thinking skills including questioning, investigating, forming hypotheses, interpreting data, analyzing, developing conclusions, and problem solving. Research shows that each of these areas is essential as we help students to think deeply and profoundly. ”

—Janet C. Samuels, Ph. D., Recent Superintendent, Norristown Area School District


Cost to underwrite:

$1,380 for one classroom at one school (approximately 30 students)


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Philadelphia Children Access Nature (PCAN)

A comprehensive nature-based STEM initiative, Philadelphia Children Access Nature improves the science education of students through inquiry-based learning opportunities and access to the natural world.  The program supports increased hands-on, minds-on investigations, both in and outside the classroom and a greater connection to nature along with the ability to make good choices around environmental issues.

The program is offered to teachers in grades three to five and includes:


Programs address the PA Core Curriculum Framework for third through fifth grade science.  

Academic Standards include: 3.1, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5

“I am feeling more confident with questioning and in my ability to be a facilitator of inquiry. I've learned to trust the process and give my students more control.”

—Summer Science Inquiry participant


“Through this program my students have really developed a sense of wonder and confidence about nature. They have a bigger picture and ask important questions. Because of PCAN, my students have more of an interest in biology and environmental science. They are aware of community issues like waste, considering how what they throw away has an impact”

—Suzanne Blatstein, Thomas K. Finletter School


Cost to underwrite:

$1,500 for one teacher to participate in the Summer Science Inquiry Institute

$5,000 for one teacher to participate in the Fellowship

How to Partner

In addition to Head Start, Norristown Area School District and PCAN, Riverbend works with schools and other organizations to provide nature-based STEM programs for students in pre-kindergarten through middle school. We can develop customized series programs that take place during the school day or after-school to achieve your goals.  A few of our partners include Mercy Neighborhood Ministries and Urban League of Philadelphia.

For more information, please contact:

Jill Shashaty

Education Specialist 


610-527-5234 x 112