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Newtown Creek has captivated people for more than 400 years, from its time as a pristine and productive tidal salt marsh to an era of intense industrialization that caused the polluted waterway that we see today, to its current state, on a path with the potential to usher in a resilient future of ecological restoration coupled with industrial revitalization. Through place-based STEM curriculum and stewardship driven activities, we teach students about ecosystems and waste-systems, history’s impacts on the present and potentials for the future. We provide hands-on activities that allow the youth of NYC to be safely immersed in the urban ecology all around, especially at the water’s edge. 

During the field trip season (April – October), NCA hosts private groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays (9 am – 2 pm) for school groups, clubs, summer camps, and other types of educational groups. We can cater our programming to many age ranges (4th grade through college) but cannot accommodate students younger than the second grade. A standard tour can accommodate up to 30 participants for a 2-hour visit, with the ability to host larger groups for longer periods of time with enough notice. We ask a standard fee ($250) for all field trips, but offer a sliding scale and can waive the fee as needed for groups upon request. 

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations are occasionally made for inclement weather as most activities require being outdoors. No refunds will be made for cancellations for other reasons.

Hands-on Activities

Water! Quality and Health explore the physical and biological characteristics of Newtown Creek. Using equipment we provide you and your students will collect and analyze data by measuring physical characteristics; dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature, pH, and salinity. (Grades 5 and up). Get to know some of the marine wildlife we find in the waterway, learn how to use a plankton tow and even look through a microscope to view the tiny planktonic life floating through the estuary system. (all ages) 

Plants! Ecosystems come in all shapes and forms but healthy ones share some pretty striking similarities. What is a native and what is a nonnative plant and what makes them perennial? Explore these questions and more in different settings while you and your students get to know the flora around the Creek. During certain times of the year we can investigate plant parts and their functions, other times we can collect seeds and learn about how they will grow to new plants, and other times still we can look at the relationships they have with other plants and animals around them. (all ages) 

Urban Life! How do we experience nature in such a densely populated and developed place? How do we design our buildings, parks, streets and infrastructure to support humans and other life? What about climate change? Explore these topics by experiencing them in real life. See our recycling systems at work and walk through a park designed to manage stormwater and rising seas. Get an understanding of how living architecture and green roofs provide more than just some greenery. (all ages)   

Location Info

Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages
NCA manages this 25,000 square foot green roof which includes indoor community space, Newtown Creek access, and a variety of thought provoking views in a building shared with a film and television production company. 

There are multiple bathrooms available at Kingsland Wildflowers and ample space to eat indoors (there is also a full kitchen). Kingsland Wildflowers is not open to the public and an appointment must be made in advance to visit, there are often events that are open to the public, if you are interested in visiting outside of a scheduled trip please check the website for updates. 

Newtown Creek Nature Walk
Located in Greenpoint, this very unique Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) built open space hugs the Newtown Creek shoreline, full of educational moments, plantings and historical/artistic artifacts.

There are no bathrooms available at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, everything is outdoors and there is no cover. There are picnic tables and benches. The Nature Walk is open to the public during daylight hours, 365 days a year.

Hunters Point South Parks 
Located in Long Island City where the fast-moving East River and the calm mouth of Newtown Creek meet, this park has the first public access point to the Creek in Queens and is designed to provide coastal habitat for wildlife and incorporate resilient design strategies that address stormwater management, rising sea levels, and pressures related to increasing density.  

Hunters Point Parks has a public bathroom and concession where food may be purchased at certain times and an area with tables, students may bring their own lunches and eat in the concession area. This is a public park. Groups must be respectful of park rules and other park-goers. Trips to Hunter’s Point South Park may be done in partnership with our partners at the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. Check their website for more activities and other ways to get involved in the park.

Request a Field Trip