School programs are 45-50 minutes long and are on a 1-hour schedule. Time slots are: 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. Many school groups schedule both a Nature and Astronomy program for the same day, thus making most efficient use of their transportation dollars.
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 per student, parent and chaperone. There is no charge for teachers.
Park Entrance Fees
$5 per car
$15 per bus (school bus or larger).
Buses from Sullivan and Hawkins counties, Kingsport, Rogersville, & Bristol (TN) City Schools, are not charged the entrance fee.
Please use the teacher request form on this webpage or call the park at 423-229-9447. Park staff will contact you to assist you in scheduling your school group.
Due to our busy school scheduling, small groups may be combined with another same-age group.
There is a 15 person minimum for any school group scheduled for their own program. But, very small groups can be combined with another same-age group.
April and May are our busiest months for school groups. Please call early if you want to receive a program during this time.
Even if you are not charged for your program, please arrive at the park and check in at the front desk of the Nature Center 30 minutes prior to your first scheduled program time. This will allow us to know that you have arrived and we can acquire an accurate attendance. This also allows your group the time to visit the restroom.
Arriving late may cause your group’s program to be cancelled.
It is recommended that you arrive early to have time to use the restrooms. If your program starts late, it will be truncated to accommodate the scheduling of all the other groups visiting.
During Your Visit
Bays Mountain Park is a nature preserve. Please inform your students that playing with, climbing on, or destroying or removing material, either living or non-living violates park rules.
A teacher or other responsible adult should accompany students at all times that 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: Bring your own lunch. There is only one very small snack machine (chips and candy) and two drink machines 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-served basis. During inclement weather, we will try to provide indoor or sheltered areas for the students to eat if space is available. The availability of these areas is subject to programming needs. Please help the staff keep the park clean by depositing all trash in appropriate receptacles. Please do not feed any park animals, caged or loose.
The following list contains a variety of programs available for your school group. We strive to have an age- and grade-appropriate program for your students. Please note the grade level on the left side.
If you have a specific topic you wish to be covered, please alert the BMP staff person who schedules you.
Links to Bays Mountain Nature YouTube Videos
Bays Mountain has prepared some special, instructional videos regarding nature on YouTube. They cover many topics and are great for learning about the Park’s special natural resources.
A List of Nature Programs Offered for School Groups:
Recommended Grade Level
Pre-K & Up
Find out why these reptiles are important to the ecosystem, learn the difference between non-venomous and venomous and explore the types of snakes that call Bays Mountain home. (Live animals may be used.)
Spend time with a park naturalist touring the animal habitats. Listen to stories about the park’s bobcat, white tail deer, red fox, and turtles.
Enjoy a relaxing boat ride around the reservoir. This program will be adjusted to the age of the students as we observe wildlife and learn about the park’s history.
What are turtles, what do they eat and where do they live? (Live animals may be used.)
Pre-K to 3rd
Around the Pond
Find out which animals call a pond home. Some small, live animals may be used during this program.
Kindergarten & Up
Birds of Prey
Find out what a raptor is, what they eat and how they fly. (Live animals may be used.)
This program will cover a wolf’s diet, pack dynamics, socialization and their role within the environment.
1st Grade & Up
Basic Characteristics of Insects & Spiders
The focus of this program will be the insect and spider life cycle.
2nd Grade & Up
Seasonal Changes in Plants & Animals
This program will focus on the following: the addition and loss of a winter coat, migration, hibernation, eggs and cocoons, flowers and fruits and more.
3rd Grade & Up
Interdependence in Nature
Symbiotic relationships in nature are explored.
4th Grade & Up
Students learn about the health of the reservoir through tiny organisms called macro-invertebrates. Students use dip-nets to locate these tiny creatures! This program is best for small groups. (The best time of year for this program is mid-April and early fall.)
Plant & Animal Adaptations
How do plants and animals adapt to our climate and weather patterns?
5th Grade & Up
Scientific Classification of Plants & Animals
This program will talk about the seven classifications of animals and what each level means. For plants, we’ll explore the five classifications and what each level means.
Rocks & Minerals
This program will focus on how metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rocks form using the rock cycle.
The following list contains a variety of programs available for your school group. We strive to have an age- and grade-appropriate program for your students.
Please note that the grade level header for each section denotes a minimum recommended level. Children younger than the grade listed can enjoy the program, though they may not fully understand the content. Anyone, child or adult, over that grade level will certainly enjoy and learn from the program.
If you have a specific astronomical topic you wish to be covered, please alert the BMP staff person who schedules you so they can add your requests to our scheduling calendar. We will do our best to accommodate!
Links to Bays Mountain Astronomical YouTube Videos
Bays Mountain has prepared some special, instructional videos regarding astronomy on YouTube. They cover many topics and include some seasonal tours of the night sky.
A List of Planetarium Programs Offered for School Groups:
Kindergarten & Up
A Part of the Sky Called Orion
The 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 Up
Make 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. This unique program was produced by Bays Mountain Productions.
Comets & Discovery
The 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. All sorts of special filmmaking techniques, together with a captivating script and sumptuous score, were used to create this Bays Mountain Production.
This is also a great show for the whole family or school group. This program incorporates 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.
Exploring 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. The program includes an update on Pluto as well as a brief tour of our current evening sky.
“Totality” is a fascinating look at all the wonders of eclipses, especially total solar eclipses. An eclipse is described simply as when one celestial object blocks another from our view. This program, produced by Bays Mountain Planetarium, examines what eclipses are, how and when they occur, and what wonderful sights they create. We also look back to a fascinating period in scientific discovery when general relativity was proven with the photographic recording of a total solar eclipse. Our production includes a variety of wonderful styles – from spectacular space environments to humorous pop-up books. A very special part of the show relates, in a very human way, what happens when you are caught in the shadow of the Moon and the Sun is plunged into a total solar eclipse. We also briefly explore what is up in our current evening sky. You will love this program.
4th Grade and Up
The Case of the Disappearing Planet
This 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. The very topical subject of the scientific method is a key point in the program and fully supports your educational curriculum. We also look at the current night sky using our optical star projector.
Discover the Stars
On 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. This is a Bays Mountain Production and includes a brief tour of the current night sky.
5th Grade and Up
This 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! The program includes a brief tour of the current night sky.
From Earth to the Universe
The 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.” The program includes a brief tour of the current night sky.
6th Grade and Up
The Hot and Energetic Universe
“The Hot and Energetic Universe” takes visitors on a cosmic journey. A journey that uses astronomical observatories throughout the world and those above the Earth’s atmosphere. All types of celestial phenomena are studied, but a focus is set upon those of high energy. These objects are part of the very hot and violent Universe.High Energy Astrophysics probes hot gas in clusters of galaxies, which are the most massive objects in the Universe. It also probes hot gas accreting around supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. Finally, high energy radiation provides important information about our own galaxy, neutron stars, supernova remnants and stars like our Sun which emit copious amounts of high energy radiation. The XMM-Newton and the Integral missions, are leading the exploration of the X-ray and gamma-ray Universe. ESA‘s mission ATHENA, to be launched in 2028, will carry the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever and it will be the flagship of all high X-ray missions. The producer of this documentary is the “Integrated Activities in the High-Energy Astrophysics Domain” (AHEAD). AHEAD is a project funded by the European Commission in the framework of Horizon2020. It is led by IAPS/INAF in Rome and involves most Universities and Research institutes which are involved in High Energy Astrophysics in Europe. The project aims to combine the efforts of all these Institutes in the analysis of X-ray data and facilitate the access to infrastructures distributed across Europe. The program includes a brief tour of the current night sky.
Einstein’s Gravity Playlist
This program explores the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, and a century later, scientists detected these waves using incredibly precise laser technology here on Earth. In honor of this long-anticipated detection, the scientists who created the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. In this show, viewers follow Lucia, a PhD student in physics, on an exploration of how gravitational waves are formed, how they move through the Universe, and how scientists like her work to hear them. The program includes a brief tour of the current night sky.
The Dark Matter Mystery – Exploring a Cosmic Secret
What keeps galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the Universe? What makes the Universe look the way it looks today? Researchers all around the world try to answer these questions. We know today that approximately a quarter of the Universe is filled with a mysterious glue: dark matter. We know that it is out there, but we have no idea what it is made out of. This planetarium show takes you on the biggest quest of contemporary astrophysics. You will learn why we know that dark matter exists and how this search is one of the most challenging and exciting searches science has to offer. Join the scientists on their hunt for dark matter with experiments in space and deep underground. Will they be able to solve… the Dark Matter Mystery? The program includes a brief tour of the current night sky.