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Hana & Arthur Ginzbarg
Nature Discovery Center

7112 Newcastle - in Russ Pitman Park
Bellaire, TX

Phone: 713-667-6550
TTY: 074 213 2718

Statement of Purpose:

The purpose of the Nature Discovery Center is to:

· foster an awareness, appreciation, and respect for nature

· nurture curiosity and enthusiasm for the study of nature and science

· develop students critical thinking and problem solving skills

 · prepare children to become environmentally responsible citizens


The Nature Discovery Center provides a warm and informal place for young children to learn about nature and their connection to the natural world. Twenty-four Discovery Boxes on a variety of nature topics, modeled after those in the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, offer endless hours of fun learning activities. Interactive exhibits in two Discovery Rooms are changed periodically. Past exhibits are available for loan to schools.

The Nature Discovery Center offers field trips for pre-school and elementary grades (as well as some for middle school groups). Using the Nature at Your Doorstep curriculum developed by the Center, the classes make independent investigations of nature outdoors. Teachers share the wonder of nature with young learners, while building their scientific knowledge and critical thinking and problem solving skills. The children experience the thrill of discovery and develop enthusiasm for the study of nature and science.


Our teachers' resource book for the field trips was published by Teachers Ideas Press in 1997. The book, Nature at Your Doorstep, Real World Investigations for Primary Students, can be ordered from the Nature Discovery Center, any online or retail bookstore, or the publisher.


The Nature Discovery Center also offers classes for children, Scout programs, summer science camp, outreach activities, adult lectures, family field trips, and teacher training workshops. 

Russ Pitman Park, home of the Nature Discovery Center, is open daily free of charge and features a playground, a fountain, an aviary, picnic tables, an herb garden, and a walking path.


Teacher training workshop. Scout programs. School field trips. Family science workshop.

Two Discovery Rooms contain changing hands-on exhibits and 24 Discovery Boxes on a variety of topics. Past exhibits are available for loan to schools in the Houston area.

Discovery Room Exhibits:

The Center's Discovery Rooms contain a captivating collection of natural objects and live specimens that parents and children can explore together, guided by friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers. A kaleidoscope of inviting hands-on activities and exhibits challenge the mind and engage the imagination of visitors. The Discovery Boxes entice youngsters to reconstruct a turtle skeleton, explore a "crystal cave" with a flashlight and a magnifying glass, learn the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes, and much more. The live animals in the Discovery Rooms include a corn snake, tree frogs, red-eared and soft-shelled turtles, a South American opossum, and a rose-haired tarantula. There is also an insect hotel, and saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

Interactive exhibits of the Discovery Rooms offer a novel and exciting way of enriching school science programs. Currently the GeoZone, Sargasso Sea, Rainforest: Ties to the Tropics, and Follow the Flyway exhibits are available for loan. The Rainforest exhibit received a second place award for indoor exhibits from the National Association for Interpretation in October 1998.

Field Trips for School Groups:

Field trips to the Center involve children in inquiries using the scientific method at a level appropriate to their age. Each weekday morning, a busload of eager pre-K through sixth grade students, from public and private schools, arrive at the Center for our Nature at Your Doorstep field trips. Title I school students come free of charge, thanks to underwriting gifts from corporations and foundations. This is the first opportunity to explore nature for many of these children.

Before embarking on outdoor investigations, children are asked to predict what they will find. Then, clipboard in hand, they venture into the park. They learn to look closely (sometimes with the help of hand lenses and insect nets), to record their observations, interpret data, and draw conclusions. They experience the thrill of discovery and develop enthusiasm for the study of nature and science. A University of Houston study of our program showed that the problem-solving skills which students acquired transferred to other subjects.

The Nature at Your Doorstep explorations are in line with the National Science Education Standards of the National Research Council ( The standards were designed to improve science education and to develop students' ability to reason, to think creatively, and to solve problems.

The Nature at Your Doorstep units help teachers meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) learning standards of the Texas Education Agency. These standards identify what students at each grade level should know and be able to do. The Nature Discovery Center web site,, shows how each of the ten units correlates with the TEKS standards in the four foundation areas: science, mathematics, social studies, and language arts.

Nature at Your Doorstep field trips to the Center can be scheduled for 9:30 a.m. weekdays. Please call 713-667-6550 for reservation. The fee is $3 per child. There is no charge for students from Title I schools (for a maximum of one grade level per school.)

Teachers' Resource Book:

Our teachers' manual, Nature at Your Doorstep, Real World Investigations for Primary Students, was published by Libraries Unlimited in 1997. The book includes ten units on different topics and is used by a number of schools and university education classes, because its learner-centered inquiry-based approach appeals to children as well as teachers. There are few curriculum texts available to elementary school teachers that are easy to use and based on readily available, inexpensive materials.

Teacher Workshops:

Our teacher workshops include Nature at Your Doorstep and three national interdisciplinary programs, Project Learning Tree, Project WILD, and the new, WET in the City curriculum and activity guide, developed by the Council for Environmental Education.

Other Programs:

Other unique and varied programs for a wide age range include outreach programs, Summer Science Camp, a Scout program, Nature Story Time and Nature Detectives for 3-5 year olds, and Eco-Explorers for 5-7 year olds. Adult and family programs include bird walks, weekend activities, family field trips, monthly adult lectures, and community events, including Arbor Day, International Migratory Bird Day, and Pumpkin Patch.

A Coastal Birding Trail Site:

The Nature Discovery Center received the first ever Flight STAR (Securing Tomorrow's Avian Resource) certificate of recognition for its effort to educate the public about birds. The Flight STAR is for facilities that are involved in bird activities which include conservation, survey and monitoring, outreach and education, and research. Russ Pitman Park, our home, is site #92 on the upper section of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. See web site:


The Center's bimonthly newsletter includes information about programs and classes as well as a Nature Kids, Science Projects Just for Fun page, and a related Teacher's Corner.


The Nature Discovery Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, supported by memberships, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, in-kind contributions, program fees, and special events, including a fall gala, a home tour, and a golf tournament. A Permanent Fund was established to serve as the Center's endowment fund, so that the Center can continue its mission of helping to raise generations that value and care for our natural heritage. For more information about current events, please see our web site:


Tue-Fri: 12-5.30; Sat: 10-5.30.


Admission to the Discovery Rooms is free. Donations are appreciated. There is a fee for classes and group visits.

How to Find Us:

The Nature Discovery Center is at 7112 Newcastle in Bellaire, TX (within Houston). It is located at the north end of Russ Pitman Park, at the corner of Evergreen and Newcastle, just inside the West Loop 610. From the Loop, take the Evergreen exit. Follow the feeder road to the stop light at Evergreen. Turn east on Evergreen, heading inside the loop (left if coming from the Galleria area, right if coming from the south). Go two blocks to the stoplight. Turn left on Newcastle. The Nature Discovery Center parkinglotisontheleft,justpastagateddriveway.

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