“I experienced the Curiosity Lab for the first time and as soon as I entered I felt as though I had been transported into a mystical wonderland of curiosity and nature. It was amazing!”


Scientific Illustration Table

At our vintage drawing desk, visitors can take a break from their outdoor exploration to exercise the part of the brain where creativity and science meet. Monthly rotating specimens are on display, so come out every week for a new challenge! The most compelling drawings will be highlighted in our newsletter and/or social media. 

The Book Nook

A quaint but cozy spot for teens and adults to sit and read after an invigorating walk through the woods. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea on cold days and check those field guides for your recent wildlife sightings! Please steer children away from the hot tea dispenser!

Rock Block

If you love geology, this is the station for you. Come touch and look closely at our unique rock collection, practice rock ID, and learn more about the fascinating rock formations on NBS campus. 

Naturalist Nook

By far our largest station in the Curiosity Lab, this play space is set up to resemble a field station for children to explore what it feels like to be a scientist in the field. There is an interactive sensory table for our families to interact with biofacts. Families can also opt to read a book to their child from our seasonally rotating children’s nature library. A book is selected on a regular basis as the Lab’s “Book of the Month”. In the corner stands our hands-on Montessori-styled cubbies with puzzles, games, and activities as well as our interactive. Our Ask a Naturalist Box and Answer Tree are located in this section. 

Magnification Station

With an adult microscope, child’s microscope, and an almost 100-year-old microscope, visitors can look closely at various items and quinch curiosities. Build your own slide or use some of our pre-made slides to investigate microscopic worlds. 

Naturalist Ambassador Desk

Your spot to settle in during your shift! Atop the Ambassador desk, you can find the Visitor Sign-in Clipboard, daily task lists, a copy of this manual, Passport Station instructions, Blog requests, a Visitor Feedback Clipboard, and any additional, relevant instructions. Resources to explore plus spare Lab forms are in the bottom drawer and office supplies are contained in the top drawer.

Ask A Naturalist Box and Answer Tree

Visitors can also discuss their curiosities at the desk with the onsite Naturalist Ambassador, or submit their questions to our ‘Ask the Naturalist’ box/online. These questions will be answered and strung up on our Answer Tree for you to come by and see later. There will be a stack of field tool check out templates located in the Naturalist Ambassador Desk. Please create a new check-out sheet labeled with the day’s date each time you work. It is important that while we share our materials to engage with nature, we also respect what we have and try to make it last as long as possible!

Conservation Corner: Hydro Hideout

This space displays local research findings directly related to Norman Bird Sanctuary for roughly one year’s time. This station focuses on science communication–in the years to come this corner will continue to explore local conservation science research, offer object-based learning, and give visitors the opportunity to engage with local science.  

Coyote Corner (October 2022 – December 2023): This space highlighted the local research of Dr. Numi Mitchell, our regional coyote scientist. Use the iPad (when in function) to explore coyote movement on the island and touch and feel various artifacts of the charismatic opportunistic omnivore. Interactive youth eye-spy and coyote diet games are located in this corner as well. 

Hydro Hideout (Now Open!): Hydro Hideout is an informational and hands-on way to get to know our local water! This space helps naturalists learn how water moves across Aquidneck Island, highlights ways we can better understand and care for our local water systems and explores some of the ways water has shaped the history of Norman Bird Sanctuary. The exhibit centers research by Greta Markey, former NBS Teacher Naturalist and current Master of Science Candidate in Water Science, Policy, and Management at Oxford University, and NBS Conservation Intern, Maya Baldauf. Check out the interactive watershed display, observe the different layers of the ocean, play the saltwater vs freshwater creature matching game, learn about exciting water research happening on the NBS campus, and more! 

Mabel's Table

A multi-generational crafting table to take a quiet and peaceful moment out of your busy day to make various seasonal crafts. Crafts rotate monthly.

Backyard Botanicals

Looking for insight into our robust garden program at NBS? This station features a Plant of the Month and Tree of the Month display and also provides visitors with wellness and mindfulness exercises. The hands-on learning component includes touching and learning about various in-season backyard botanicals. The Gardens bulletin board poster explains the variety of gardens found here on our property and what makes each space unique. The Pollinators Bulletin Board poster overviews bee species found locally.

Field Tool Closet

Visitors can also check out various field instruments from the Field Tool Closet. Naturalist Ambassadors are always involved in the field tool borrowing process. Please encourage ALL VISITORS to peruse our offerings and inform them that they only need to leave behind a pair of car keys and their name in exchange for a field tool! It is important that while we share our materials to engage with nature, we also respect what we have and try to make it last as long as possible!

The Passport Station

New to the Curiosity Lab in 2023! Starting with the Basic Passport, visitors can embark on Universal Trail on an interactive activity hike and learn more about natural life at the sanctuary. Additional Special Pages and Trail Pages are available in the Passport Rack to be added to passports over time. Naturalist Ambassadors are responsible for adding stamps to passports upon completion of a trail hike. Laminated instructions for guiding visitors through this activity are located atop the Ambassador desk. 

Volunteer in the Curiosity Lab

Becoming a Volunteer Naturalist Ambassador is a great way to engage visitors of all ages at the Norman Bird Sanctuary. If you have a passion for education, nature, and learning, this is the place for you!

For more information, reach out to Assistant Director of Education, Sophie Gregory: sgregory@normanbirdsanctuary.org

Curiosity Lab Hours

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (weekend hours are volunteer dependent)

See What Our Campus Has to Offer