Blue Sky Fund Explorers provides educational programming during school hours that creates hands-on outdoor experiences through nature-based science lessons that enrich Virginia Standards Of Learning (SOL) in 12 Title I Richmond Public Schools.


3rd to 5th graders participating


field investigations

12 - 15

hours outdoors per student

Explorers Program

Hands-on Science Education with Blue Sky

The Explorers program works with over 1,800 3rd through 5th grade students and teachers from Richmond Public Schools. Students explore the Richmond area’s natural environments, including Belle Isle, Pocahontas State Park, and Shalom Farms. The Explorers curriculum includes hands-on science SOL instruction, team building, and a focus on respect for one another and the environment.

Elementary School Partners

Blue Sky Fund provides Explorers programming at no cost to schools and students at 12 Title 1 Richmond City Public Elementary Schools.

  • Bellevue ES
  • Blackwell ES
  • Chimborazo ES
  • Fairfield Court ES
  • Frances W. McClenney
  • Henry L. Marsh III ES
  • Miles Jones ES
  • Oak Grove ES
  • Overby-Sheppard ES
  • Swansboro ES
  • Westover Hills ES
  • Woodville ES

Locations Visited

During the last school year, our Explorers visited the following places.

  • Forest Hill Park
  • Bryan Park
  • Three Lakes Park

  • Dorey Park

  • Science Museum of VA

  • York River State Park

  • Pocahontas State Park

  • Camp Thunderbird

  • Maymont

  • Hidden Creek Park

  • Bellemeade Park

  • Ancarrow’s Landing

  • Belle Isle

  • Shalom Farms (North AND South)

3rd Grade Topics 

  • Introduction & Data Collection
  • Human & Natural Activity
  • Adaptations 
  • Soils & Ecosystems

4th Grade Topics

  • Introduction & Data Collection
  • Ecosystems 
  • Space & Energy 
  • Plant Structures 
  • Watersheds 

5th Grade Topics

  • Introduction & Data Collection
  • Sound & Light 
  • Geology & Fossils 
  • Natural Resources 
  • Energy & Magnetism

Program History

In 2008, this program began in partnership with Oak Grove-Bellemeade and Chimborazo Elementary Schools. For two years, committed Blue Sky volunteers, teachers, and 3rd grade students met one Saturday a month to discover more about themselves and their environment. In 2010, the schools identified a need to address low performance on Virginia Science SOL tests and partnered with Blue Sky to meet this need with creative, hands-on, experiential learning.

Blue Sky began offering the Explorers program as a field-trip for 3rd grade students. The program has since grown to engage over 1,800 3rd through 5th grade students.