Educational Programs

Email us to receive information about school field trips ([email protected]).  

Tour Information

Education about the earth and environmental responsibility is at the core of our mission. We welcome visits from school groups, scouts, ECHO Rangers, science clubs and organizations of all kinds and ages.

Download our tour information to learn more.

The Gillespie Museum and the Rinker Environmental Learning Center (RELC) are at the intersection of Amelia and East Michigan Avenues at 234 East Michigan Avenue, on Stetson University's DeLand Campus.

The RELC was built, in part, by the Volusia County ECHO Program in 2007 with a generous grant of $325,000. This ECHO-supported facility is used as a classroom and activity space for our GeoLab and other K-12 school and tour group programming; it also includes a small exhibit and exploration gallery called The Nature Nook which is open to the public during regular museum hours at no cost to visitors.

Self-Guided Visits

Available during regular visiting hours from August to May.

Conduct your own self-guided visit and enjoy the museum's exhibits, displays, and hands-on activities. Teachers or group organizers may arrange to preview the museum by calling or e-mailing. A staff member will help in planning your visit. Costs are outlined below.

Field Trips

Please e-mail the museum ([email protected]) if you would like to be contacted about field trip scheduling.  See also our Educational Resources page for activity sheets, checklists, coloring pages and other downloadable materials.

Dates for Fall 2024:

Dates for Spring 2025:

The typical visit includes three activities, chosen from the list below. Undergraduate student staff members guide visitors through each 25-minute session or activity. Teachers/organizers may decide whether or not to have the museum's gift shop open after the educational activities. Many groups also choose to bring lunches for a picnic on the museum grounds. Costs are outlined below.

Field Trip Activities

You may choose to study Rocks & Minerals in the museum or Florida Ecosystems in the Teaching Landscape.

Rocks and Minerals (Museum and GeoLab)

  •  Tour of the Museum (including the Mineral Collection, Florida Room and Underground World)
  •  Earthquakes and Volcanoes (Earth structures and Rock Cycle in Connections Room)
  •  GeoLab (Mineral Identification lab practical)
  •  Mining for Minerals (hands-on mineral hunting)

 Florida Ecosystems (Outdoor Classroom)

  •  Native Plant Scavenger Hunt
  •  Soil Profile
  •  Pollination Study,
  •  Leaf Transpiration Lab

Field Trip Logistics

  • Scheduling: Because we have a limited number of mornings for field trips during the school year, it is best to plan as early as possible. You may contact the museum to make arrangements at 386-822-7330 or by email, [email protected]

  • Arrival: Please plan to arrive at the museum's front porch at least ten minutes before 10:00 a.m. Because many of our student staff members have classes both before and after the scheduled visit, we have a tight schedule. Thus, it is very helpful for teachers and chaperones to decide how to divide groups before or soon after their arrival. Name tags for both students and teachers/chaperones are not necessary but always helpful.

  • Museum Gift Shop: An extension of our educational mission, the museum's gift shop has inexpensive minerals and rocks, handmade jewelry, books and scientific/educational toys. Teachers/organizers may choose whether or not to have the gift shop open after educational programming.

  • Lunch on the Grounds: There are wooden picnic tables on the grounds for picnic lunches. Larger groups (40 to 60) may also want to bring picnic blankets or towels. The museum will provide trash cans and recycling receptacles. On rainy and extremely cold days, we will move our visitors to the porches of the museum and/or inside the adjacent Rinker Environmental Learning Center.

Group Size

The Gillespie Museum is a small museum with a small staff. For self-guided visits, we would ask that no more than 20 visitors tour at any one time. For field trip visits, our maximum number is 60, which will be organized into three smaller groups of up to 20. A good rule of thumb is that for school groups, teachers plan for one adult for every 10 students (usually one or two chaperones per each smaller group).


Field Trips

Educational tour fees may be paid by cash, check or credit card.

  • Students: $2.50
  • Teachers/Chaperones: Free

Virtual Programming Now Available!

During the pandemic our student staff worked with us, some from home, others in the museum, to create a series of Short Takes, video introductions to some of our classic educational programming.  Nothing can take the place of being at the Gillespie, holding obsidian and pumice, or mining for minerals, but if you are not able to visit us in person, or just want to learn something new from home or home-school, we offer these resources.  (The following video Short Takes were designed specifically for educators, based on our traditional program offerings for school groups. To see the rest of our growing collection of virtual and online Gillespie Museum educational materials, please go to our Educational Resources page.)

Short Takes

Mineral Identification Lab:  A 15-minute instructional video on our mineral lab exercise, introducing the physical properties of minerals—color, streak, hardness—and how they lead to mineral identification.  To accompany this video, we offer an electronic copy of the instructor's slide presentation (pdf or PowerPoint), and a printable version of the student lab worksheet (worksheet answers are presented at the end of the video).

Caves:  A five-minute video foray into caves and cave formations.  To accompany this video, we offer an elementary-level learn-along activity sheet based on the video content.  Also available is the Gillespie Museum's more in-depth cave exploration video slideshow, Florida's Caves and Karst Geology (also in pdf format), and a more advanced companion worksheet.

The Rock Cycle:  A six-minute video exploring the rock cycle and the three main types of rock, including some basics on matter and the makeup of the earth.  To accompany this video, we offer an electronic copy of our Rock Cycle slide presentation (pdf or PowerPoint), a printable version of Gillespie's Rock Cycle diagram, and a learn-along activity sheet based on the video and slideshow content.