MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center Virtual Interactive Classroom Series Request Form

Learning Fresh From the Farm

A virtual classroom series with MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center is designed for students to explore natural resources and agriculture while learning about sustainability and the environment. Aligned with literacy, math, and Next Generation Science standards, programs utilize inquiry place-based learning. Life cycles and system interdependency are revealed as students virtually visit the fields, forest, greenhouse, and farm animals to investigate science phenomena taking place on the farm. Virtual series with Tollgate Farm are scheduled September through early June and cost $250 for five weekly visits.  Financial aid process is available here. For questions or to tailor a program to meet your teaching goals, please email Ellen Koehler at

Virtual visits from MSU Tollgate Education Center education staff provide experiential learning all year long. Weekly or week-long virtual learning series include:

Follow the Nutrient Trail (Spring or Fall Grades 2-5) April - early June

How do plants and animals depend on one another in the nutrient cycle? Let’s follow the nutrient trail of consumers, producers, and decomposers as we meet our goats, chickens, and red wiggler friends, the worms! Visiting the garden, orchard, and animal barn, students will investigate how the energy of the sun transforms and travels through the nutrient cycle. Through hands-on STEM challenges, students interact with Tollgate Farm staff and the plants and animals of Tollgate.  

Plants and Their Partners: Pollinators and Pollination (Grades K-2) May - early June

How do plants grow and how do they depend on other living things? Students explore plant structure and function and what plants need to grow. Visiting the garden, greenhouse, gardens, fields, and animal barn, students will investigate pollination and seed dispersal. Through STEM learning activities, students take a close look at where our food comes from as we explore ways we can make a difference in our world

Winter on the Farm: Heat and Light and the Transfer of Energy (Grades 4-8) February

How are heat and light energy conserved, transferred, and used in times of cold? Where does energy come from? How does energy work? What path does the sun’s energy follow, and how is it transferred from one organism to another? How do living organisms on the farm stay warm when it’s so cold outside?
Students search for evidence that energy is being conserved, transferred, and used on the winter farm.  

The History and Science of Maple Sugaring (Spring Grades 2-5) March - limited availability

How does maple sap become maple syrup? Join us on a maple sugaring adventure today as we explore how the maple syrup gets into the jar? Virtually visit the farm to identify and tap maple trees in the sugarbush. We’ll have a chance to visit the sugar shack to observe a modern day maple sugaring operation and stop to explore the taste and cooking with maple syrup in our cooking lab. We’ll also take a journey through time as we investigate the regional history of making this sweet treat through its people and its tools. 

The Journey of Water (April - May, Grades 4-5)

What is the water cycle? How can we follow the path of water and better understand the mechanisms for water to travel around the earth? Students will explore the water cycle and discover the path water takes as it moves through ecosystems. They will apply this knowledge as they investigate the journey of water on the farm, and carry out a series of tests in their yard or schoolyard involving water and water quality.

The Secret Life of Trees (Fall Grades K-2)

This fall, we'll explore the secret life of trees as we investigate big ideas - how trees have unique and diverse life cycles and how they have amazing structures and functions that help them survive and grow. Do trees compete or cooperate as they use resources in their own environment to survive. Which trees grow at Tollgate Farm and why? How are they alike and different from the trees in the students yard, park, or schoolyard. Aligned with literacy, math, and Next Generation Science Standards, students will get to know trees up close and personal. Interact with MSU Tollgate Farm staff, visit the fields and gardens, engage in STEAM challenges, and learn about how we are a part of the same ecosystem as the trees around us and how we can give back to the trees that provide so much for us. Designed for grades K-2.

Some of the exciting aspects of virtual learning journeys on the farm:

  • Investigate science phenomena happening on the farm.
  • Connect to place and integrate with community-based service learning projects.
  • Connect to MSU education staff and MSU Extension educators.
  • Explore how plants and animals prepare for the coming season.
  • Visit the animals virtually and learn about their role on the farm.
  • Spend time in the classroom doing investigations related to our visit. 
  • Explore life cycles and how plants and animals use their internal and external systems to survive.

Program availability is on a first come, first served basis. Schools should register early to secure their spot. Intensive week-long series may be available on request if dates are available. Large virtual farm visits available for schools on request.

For information regarding our financial aid process, see our website.

Registration for MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center Group Farm Visits is open.

Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2021.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information contact Ellen Koehler, Tollgate Education Coordinator at 248-701-9956 or