School Groups

Bays Mountain Park staff and volunteers offer programs for school groups from kindergarten through high school level. These programs are offered Tuesday through Friday, September through May. Select from the areas below to learn more about the various programs offered and how to schedule a visit.

For the best results in scheduling, please call Monday-Friday.

General Information

Program Times

School programs may be scheduled during : 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. Programs are approximately 45 minutes in length. Many school groups schedule both a Nature and Astronomy program for the same day, thus making most efficient use of their transportation dollars.

Program Fees

Kingsport, Rogersville, & Bristol (TN) City Schools – No charge.

Public, private, and home schools within Sullivan County, TN and Hawkins County, TN – No charge.

Home schools, private schools, and public schools located outside Sullivan or Hawkins County: $2.00 per student and parents or chaperons. There is no charge for teachers.

Entrance Fees

  • $5.00 per car
  • $15.00 per bus (school bus or larger).

Buses from Sullivan and Hawkins counties, Kingsport, Rogersville, & Bristol (TN) City Schools, are waived the entrance fee.


Arrival & Check In

Please arrive at the park and check in at the front desk of the nature center 30 minutes prior to the first scheduled program time. Arriving late may cause your group’s program to be cancelled.

During Your Visit

Bays Mountain Park is a nature preserve. Please inform your students that destroying or removing material, either living, dead, or non-living violates park rules.
A teacher or other responsible adult should accompany students at all times they are in the park.
Students should be encouraged to walk quietly while in the park. Others are here to enjoy the tranquility of the nature preserve as well as to learn.
Teasing, harassing, or feeding of park animals, whether caged or loose, will not be tolerated.

Staying for Lunch

Please note: There are no vending machines nor food concessions at the park.
Groups may bring their lunches to the park and eat at the picnic tables, the amphitheater, or two covered picnic shelters. These areas are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. During inclement weather, the Park will attempt to provide indoor or sheltered areas for the students to eat. The availability of these areas is subject to programming needs. Please help the staff keep the park clean by depositing all trash in appropriate recepticles. Please do not feed any park animals, caged or loose.

Nature Topics

Nature Topics

Recommended Grade LevelProgram NameDescription
Pre-K & AboveSNAKES
Kindergarten to 2nd GradeTOUR OF THE ANIMAL HABITATSLake, lake edge, forest; what kinds of animals live where.
Kindergarten & AboveRAPTOR
Kindergarten & AboveWOLF
1st Grade & AboveBASIC CHARACTERISTICS OF INSECTS & SPIDERSLife cycles of selected insects. (Between mid-October and mid-April there are few of these animals to actually be seen. However, we do have a good selection of larger-than-life models for use.)
2nd Grade & AboveSEASONAL CHANGES IN PLANTS AND ANIMALSAddition or loss of winter coat, migration, hibernation\/estivation, eggs/cocoons/etc. and death of adult stage. Leaf loss or growth, flowers/fruits, etc.
3rd Grade & AbovePOND LIFE
5th Grade & AboveSCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION OF PLANTS & ANIMALSBy Kingdoms: Monerans, Protists, Fungi, Plants, Animals. By Function: Producers, Consumers, Decomposers.
5th Grade & AboveROCKS & MINERALS
5th Grade & AboveSOILWeathering, erosion, deposition, types of rocks

Planetarium Topics

Planetarium Topics

Recommended Grade LevelProgram NameDescription
Pre-K - 1st Grade and UpConnectionsConnections is an incredible journey that you’ll take from our own back yard to the farthest reaches of space. Our premier in-house full-dome production immerses you in a multitude of environments in which you are literally surrounded with beautiful imagery and sound. From the serenity of a wooded forest to the awe-inspiring majesty of the constellations, planets, galaxy, and universe, you’ll be amazed to see that we are all connected.

The show is followed by a tour of the current night sky.

Connections highlights many educational standards. The focus being on how all things are connected. We learn by our senses to see that a forest, a field, or deep space are all three-dimensional and that we can move about to gain an understanding of our place in the cosmos. Students will realize that all things cast shadows and that day and night are determined if the sun is shining above or is behind a planet respectively. Our movement on land, an animal’s motion in a forest, or a planet’s rotation and revolution are all different examples of how things move. Part of our connection with the night sky is through the history of observations and mythology. Ancient constellations and modern line drawings are shown to illustrate our human ancestry and the fun of getting out under your own night sky.

Note, for Pre-K, the entire program will be about 30 minutes consisting of just the "Connections" program.
2nd Grade and UpA Part of the Sky Called OrionThe program looks at how three different ancient cultures looked at the same part of the sky we know as the constellation Orion. We focus on the Greek, Egyptian, and Inupiaq cultures along with their different star stories and images using the night sky. It is thoroughly enjoyed by children and adults and is a great program to explore the heavens. The program is followed by a tour of the current night sky using our exceptional Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector.

This is another fantastic in-house Bays Mountain Production that is perfect for 2nd grade and above. It follows state curriculum guidelines as it looks at the big ideas that have guided human understanding of the cosmos and its patterns in the sky.
3rd Grade and UpPlanetary VisionsMake sure your seatbelt is securely fastened! You’ll blast off on an adventurous tour of the Solar System. Detailed information about the planets, moons and Sun is provided as we fly through the various regions within our Solar neighborhood.

This program begins with a view of our current nighttime sky where we point out constellations, asterisms, planets and the Milky Way. We then embark on an exciting tour of the Solar System which highlights the regions within and learn what is and is not a planet. Zoom through space to visit each planet and get really close to see details in a stunning 3-D environment.
3rd Grade and UpAppalachian SkiesThis program takes visitors on a majestic tour of the evening sky using the spectacular Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector instrument. It's fiber-optic generated star field is stunning and a pleasure to see. You don't want to miss it! Led by planetarium staff, learn what fascinating constellations will be easily visible. Marvel at their ancient lore. Find out what planets are easily seen as well. Visitors will take this knowledge home and be able to locate these sights for themselves.
3rd Grade and UpComets & DiscoveryThe show is much more than a straight narrative about comets. The show takes the viewer on a journey of discovery. We follow two intrepid comet hunters in first-person. One, a modern explorer. The other, Caroline Herschel. The famous 18th century huntress that ruled the skies for many generations. With both, we learn how they each searched the skies, made their discoveries, and reported them for other astronomers to bear out. We also learn about, depending on the century of the observer, what people thought comets were and their importance to them. We are using green-screen technology, 3-D environments, and good ol' fashioned still art. Together with a captivating script and sumptuous score, this is a great show for the whole family or school group.

We are also incorporating two live sequences to enhance the learning and fun. The first will be an activity to involve and engage the audience to learn more about the parts of a comet, the path a comet takes, and the dust and ion tails that splay out in their correct directions as the comet orbits the sun. The second sequence will use a facility's star projection system and focus on any upcoming comets to see in the sky and how to view them.
3rd Grade and UpBack to the Moon - For GoodImmerse yourself in a race to return to the Moon 40 years after the historic Apollo landings. See how a competition among privately funded international teams is ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. Learn about the Moon’s resources and discover what humanity’s future on the Moon might hold. Narrated by Tim Allen, “Back To The Moon – For Good” presents the Google Lunar XPRIZE, and the personal stories of competition and collaboration it inspires.

The show is immediately followed by a two-part live presentation. The first highlights the moon and its major features. The second utilizes our Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector in which we’ll highlight our current night sky and its major constellations and any Solar System objects visible.
3rd Grade and UpExploring New Horizons“Exploring New Horizons” looks at Pluto. We travel through time to witness the forward progression of discovery in our Solar System and find out how important the scientific method really is. We see how Pluto was discovered and how we understand it today as the most popular of dwarf planets. We also ride along the New Horizons spacecraft and experience Pluto first hand. A live activity highlights Pluto’s discovery and the show ends with a live update of the New Horizons mission.
3rd Grade and UpRosettaThe Fulldome Film Society together with Kiev Planetarium and Atmasfera360 Center are proud to present the unique fulldome show dedicated to a breakthrough discovery and space mission to the core of the comet 67P.

Join comet discoverer Klim Churyumov in the story about the origins of the Solar System and life on Earth. Meet the challenges of a 10 year long mission with “Rosetta” spacecraft and the “Philae” lander. Become the first one to find oneself on the comet surface!

The show includes updates on the mission and what we have learned.
4th Grade and UpTwo Small Pieces of GlassAstronomers have learned so much about the night sky, and it all started with just two small pieces of glass. Look back to the discoveries of telescope design and the discoveries by the telescope itself. Look forward to what is yet to come with new telescopes of the very near future. Then, go back 400 years to those first days of using the telescope on the night sky with Galileo Galilei. We’ll use our Carl Zeiss Skymaster ZKP-4 star projector with its 7000+ pinpoint stars to accurately recreate the skies of Galileo along with the planets that he discovered were worlds, and not stars.

Students will learn how special equipment was designed and used to gain an understanding of our cosmos. Observational skills is most necessary when using a telescope. Logic, too, is important to understand what you are observing and to not confuse illusion with fact. The telescope showed us not only details of celestial objects, but allowed us to realize that we are not the center of the Solar System by specific changing appearances of the planets.
4th Grade and UpThe Case of the Disappearing PlanetThis program looks into the changing status of objects we call “planets.” It not only covers Pluto, but the historical temporary planetary status of asteroids as well. The tally of “planets” in our Solar System has been going up and down for hundreds of years!

Another great production by Bays Mountain! You'll follow Skye Watcher, a fun, street-savvy 1940's-style detective and learn, most clearly, what we now call a planet.
This is a very topical subject in your educational curriculum.
4th Grade and UpDiscover the StarsOn a clear, dark night, most of us, at one time or another, have gazed upon the stars and wondered about all those tiny points of light. Many of us are able to identify different patterns and constellations in the stars. But, what are those tiny points of light? This exciting program takes viewers beyond a simple observation of the night sky and delves into the fascinating lives of stars.

When we look up at the night sky, we can see that stars vary in brightness and have many different colors. The program reveals what is similar to all stars and what makes them unique. In “Discover the Stars,” we explore the many facets of a stars’ life. One of which is to venture deep into a giant molecular cloud to witness the birth of a new star. Stars also do not last forever. The program looks at the different ways that stars end their lives and the astronomical wonders that are left behind.
4th Grade and UpThe Transit of Mercury featuring "Solar Quest."A transit of Mercury across the Sun is an event that happens when Earth and Mercury are in just the right positions for alignment with the Sun.

Bays Mountain Planetarium is proud to present “The Transit of Mercury featuring ‘Solar Quest.’” In this live and interactive program, visitors will explore the small, rocky world of Mercury from its rare glimpses in the twilight skies to recent explorations by the Messenger spacecraft. The powerful nature of our Sun is presented through a short segment entitled “Solar Quest,” which was produced by the Buhl Planetarium at Carnegie Science Center. A live activity demonstrating the relative sizes and distances of Mercury, Earth and Sun highlights why transit events are somewhat rare occurrences. The program concludes with information about how to observe this event safely.

“The Transit of Mercury featuring ‘Solar Quest’” was written and produced by Bays Mountain Planetarian, Jason Dorfman. The live content is rich with great full-dome animations, use of the Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector, and a fun activity!
4th Grade and UpWhen Venus Transits the SunThis is a fantastic full-dome show that looks into the rare and magnificent celestial apparition called a Venus transit. The show covers what a transit is, a famous transit viewing from the 18th century led by Captain Cook, and exciting information about the sun and Venus. There will also be a live component to the show that allows the audience to participate in two fun activities.

A Venus transit is when the planet Venus is seen passing in front of the sun. Why so special? Telescope technology in the 18th century allowed the first opportunity for astronomers to accurately determine the size of the Solar System. Another reason for being special is that these transits are rare. Two consecutive transits occur eight years apart. But, these pairs are separated by 105.5 and 121.5 years alternatively. The last two transits occurred in 2004 and 2012. Diehard optimists will just have to wait about 100 years for the next pair!
5th Grade and UpUnder the Milky WayThis is a great show that highlights our very own Milky Way galaxy. We look into the structure of our galaxy and how it was formed. We also look back, starting with an ancient Chinese star lore story, to our continuing understanding of what our galaxy is and how large it is.

The show's second feature is a live presentation utilizing some of the wonderful capabilities of our Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector as well as our digital projection system. We'll highlight our current night sky, but relate it to our show's topic.  Learn about some other celestial delights found within our galaxy. We conclude our program by transforming our position on earth and travel down to the southern hemisphere and spy the two largest dwarf galaxies that orbit us, the Magellanic Clouds.
5th Grade and UpCosmic ColorsThis show was produced by the Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) and is great fun for the whole family. As described by GLPA, "Cosmic Colors" will take you on a wondrous journey across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Discover the many reasons for color—like why the sky is blue and why Mars is red. Take a tour within a plant leaf and journey inside the human eye. Investigate x-rays by voyaging to a monstrous black hole and then back at your doctor’s office. You will even see the actual color of a dinosaur--based on recent evidence. Get ready for an amazing adventure under a rainbow of cosmic light!
5th Grade and UpChasing the Ghost Particle: From the South Pole to the Edge of the Universe Deep in the ice at the heart of Antarctica, the biggest and strangest detector in the world waits for mysterious messengers from the cosmos. Scientists are using tiny and elusive particles called neutrinos to explore the insides of stars and galaxies. These ghostly neutrinos give us an exclusive look into exploding stars and black holes.

In this program, stunning views of the most extreme places in our universe, the galaxies around us, and the Earth and the Sun await. They are just a prelude to a thrilling journey inside the detector, looking for traces of neutrinos from when they collide with atoms in the ice. From one of the most remote locations on Earth to the unexplored regions of the cosmos, "Chasing the Ghost Particle: From the South Pole to the Edge of the Universe" will take you on a journey you will never forget.

Chasing the Ghost Particle is a co-production of the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The program is immediately followed by the use of our Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 optical star projector with a tour of our current night sky and a look at the southern celestial skies of Antarctica.
5th Grade and UpFrom Earth to the UniverseThe night sky, both beautiful and mysterious, has been the subject of campfire stories, ancient myths and awe for as long as there have been people. A desire to comprehend the Universe may well be humanity’s oldest shared intellectual experience. Yet only recently have we truly begun to grasp our place in the vast cosmos. To learn about this journey of celestial discovery, from the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes, we invite you to experience “From Earth to the Universe.”

Directed by the young Greek filmmaker Theofanis N. Matsopoulos, and featuring a sweeping soundtrack from Norwegian composer Johan B. Monell, viewers can revel in the splendour of the various worlds in the Solar System and the ferocity of the scorching Sun. From Earth to the Universe then leaves our home to take the audience out to the colourful birthplaces and burial grounds of stars, and still further out, beyond the Milky Way, to the unimaginable immensity of a myriad galaxies. Along the way, the audience will learn about the history of astronomy, the invention of the telescope, and today’s giant telescopes that allow us continue to probe ever deeper into the Universe.

Director Theofanis N. Matsopoulos described the film as “a colourful and inspiring journey… the visuals are stunning and really speak for themselves in showing just how far humanity’s ambition has taken us in terms of observing and understanding the Universe”.
6th Grade and UpDarkThe search for Dark Matter is the most pressing astrophysical problem of our time – the solution to which will help us understand why the Universe is as it is, where it came from, and how it has evolved over billions of years – the unimaginable depths of deep time, of which a human life is but a flickering instant.

The show is presented by Dr Alan Duffy, a brilliant young astronomer from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) at the University of Western Australia – who creates simulations of Dark Matter evolution inside supercomputers. Alan introduces us to the idea of Dark Matter, why astronomers think it exists, and explains why Radio Astronomy is so well-suited to its discovery.

We journey through completely immersive visualisations of Dark Matter evolution calculated upon some of the world’s fastest supercomputers – cosmological visions on a truly vast scale, in which galaxies themselves are but points of light, distributed across far larger intergalactic structures of Dark Matter.

Educator Contact Form

For the best results in scheduling, please call Monday-Friday.

Teacher in Charge - Name

Teacher in Charge - E-mail

Teacher in Charge - Office Phone

Teacher in Charge - Cell Phone


Person in Charge During Visit - Name

Person in Charge During Visit - Cell Phone




Best Time to Call? (Please state which phone number)

How many students will you bring?

How many teachers will you bring?

How many parents will you bring? (Best guess at this time)


Date desired (1st choice)

Date desired (2nd choice)

Date desired (3rd choice)

What time do you expect to arrive at Bays Mountain?

What time do you expect to leave Bays Mountain?


Please note, all school programs are offered at these time slots: 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 12:30 a.m.

Please remember that you must arrive and be parked at least 30 min. prior to your first program.

Please have the onsite teacher in charge check in at the front desk at the gift shop. Even if your fees are exempt.

Due to our busy schedule, if you are late for any reason, your program may be shortened or cancelled. Also, due to limited space, groups may be combined within one program.

Any tentative reservation will be temporarily held for one week. All reservations must be officially contracted.

Maximum seating capacities: Please note that students and teachers will be seated first. Parents may not be able to attend if seating is full. Remember, a smaller group may be grouped with another. Parents that attend need to be pre-reserved through the scheduling teacher to accommodate seating. Seating capacities are in accordance with safety measures. Do not exceed.
Planetarium: 102
Herpetarium (reptile): 80
Raptor bleachers: 125
Wolf bleachers: 150


Select the desired starting time of your first program:

How many planetarium programs do you want?

How many nature programs do you want?


Please select which nature program(s) you desire in order of preference (choose up to 4, with "1" being most desired):
Remember, grade shown includes the minimum grade level necessary for full comprehension. Most programs can be shown to any grade, up through college level.

For detailed descriptions of each program, please click the tab located above for "Nature Topics"














If you desire a specific emphasis on a particular nature topic, please list here


Please select which planetarium program(s) you desire in order of preference (choose up to 3, with "1" being most desired):

Remember, grade shown includes the minimum grade level necessary for full comprehension. Most programs can be shown to any grade, up through college level.

For detailed descriptions of each program, please click the tab located above for "Planetarium Topics"

Note, the minimum attendance for the planetarium theater is 15 students.


















PLANETARIUM: DARK (6th & above)

PLANETARIUM: Current main public show


If you desire a specific emphasis on a particular planetarium topic, please list here


General comments.
Any special needs?