Museum of York County

Focusing on the natural history of the region in which we live, learners are invited to experience the Carolina Piedmont and its connections to the rest of the world. The Museum is home to the Naturalist Center Lab with more than 2,000 specimens, the Settlemyre Planetarium featuring out-of-this-world programs, changing exhibitions and more.

Tours & Programs

Tours include most galleries in the museum; programs are focused in a few galleries. Please plan extra time to visit the hands-on Naturalist Center Lab where over 2,000 specimens can be explored. 

Animal Discovery Tour
Pre K – K5 & 2nd Grades  |  30 – 60 min
Designed to introduce young visitors to the main galleries of the museum and its amazing natural history collection, this tour uses short stories and poems to share how animals use their body parts to obtain food, protect themselves and move about.

The Sun’s Family  
1st & 4th Grades | 45 – 60 min
Orbiting, bending, and tilting, children will become rocky midgets or gas giants as they create a human model of the Solar System and learn how technology has allowed us to study space. This kinesthetic program introduces or reviews the basic properties and movements of objects in the Solar System.

Ecosystem Exploration Tour 
2nd - 3rd, 5th & 7th Grades |  60 min
Observe how interactions within the ecosystem, such as climate, human activity and availability of food and water affect plants and animals in five distinct environments:  three in Africa (mountain rain forest, savannah/grassland, desert) and two from here in the Carolina Piedmont (temperate deciduous forest, wetland).

Classes with a Naturalist Center Lab

Classes include a hands-on, interactive lab exercise with real specimens. Please plan extra time to visit the rest of the museum’s galleries and exhibits. 

Animal Coverings
2nd Grade  |  60 min
In this interactive class students examine hands-on specimens to compare how animals use teeth, wings, claws, shells, fur and other body structures to survive. Students will review their own amazing senses, as they use some of them to practice classifying animals by describing their physical characteristics.

Earth’s Natural Resources 
1st & 3rd grades  |  60 min
Earth materials are renewable or nonrenewable natural resources. Using maps and investigating properties of mineral and rock specimens; students discover that things they use every day come from the earth. While gaining a desire to protect and conserve their natural resources, students will observe how water movement shapes the land.

Awesome Animal Adaptations
3rd – 7th Grade  |  60 min
Explore the structural adaptations that allow animals to obtain resources and survive in their distinct environments. Students investigate nocturnal animals’ super-senses; use critical thinking skills and animal characteristics to classify specimens as vertebrate or invertebrate; and encounter the diversity of mammal tooth structure.

Deep Down in the Earth
5th – 8th Grade  |  60 min
Volcanoes, earthquakes and mining all deal with what lies under the surface of the planet we call Earth. Fossils, minerals, rocks and energy fuels are often found buried down deep in the Earth. Review or introduce these topics as students interact with an earthquake model, discuss volcanic activity in SC, identify either minerals/rocks or fossils and explore where the things they use every day come from.

Featured Settlemyre Planetarium Programs

All planetarium shows include a look at the current night sky and identification of celestial objects. This live presentation can include content that will reinforce classroom activities, so be sure to let the scheduler know what your students are studying when you make reservations. For the main part of the planetarium experience, choose between these recorded programs. For additional programs beyond our featured ones and for applicable SC and NC Academic Standards, visit our website. Max: 50 students per show. 

Moles: What Is Out There?
Preschool – 1st Grade
A young mole named Plato is fascinated by the light that penetrates the entrance to his home. Sometimes it is lit; sometimes it is off... Why could that be? Our young friend is desperate to see what is out there in the outside world and one day he finally gets to see it all. Plato discovers day and night, the sun and the moon and the stars.

Perfect Little Planet 
2nd – 6th Grades
Discover our Solar System through a new set of eyes – a family from another star seeking the perfect vacation spot.  Fly over the surface of dwarf planet Pluto, sail through the rings of Saturn and walk on the surface of Mars.

Cosmic Colors
4th - 8th Grades
Take a journey across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Discover the many reasons for color - like why the sky is blue and why Mars is red. Investigate x-rays by voyaging to a black hole and then back to your doctor's office. Get ready for an amazing adventure under a rainbow of cosmic light.

To Space & Back
 4th – 12th Grades
Explore the way each of us has been changed by the discoveries made by the international space program. From the devices we use every day to the tools that are breaking new ground in medicine and engineering, we can thank space exploration for making our modern lives possible.

6th – 12th Grades
Discover the wonders of our S un. Its incredible energy has supported life on Earth for millennia, but is now threatening our technology and way of life. Travel to the distant future to discover our Sun’s connection to the universe’s cosmic cycle of life and death.

Planetarium programs are made possible in part through the generous support of: Comporium, The Humanities CouncilSC, the Guild of the Museum of York County and Westinghouse Foundation.