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EcoQuest at Home

Recommended for grades 2-5

EcoQuest can be completed independently at home, or teachers can implement EcoQuest in their classrooms or for distance learning.

Discover ecology in your backyard!
Join us on an EcoQuest to uncover the secret ecosystem where you live! How many different organisms live all around you, and what in the world are they eating? Learn how to use ecological tools to understand these fascinating consumers and their bizarre eating habits.

The Cary EcoQuest program gets children connected to nature with activities that are straightforward and accessible. It will spark children’s curiosity about the local ecosystem that exists right where they live, instill confidence in their skills to think and explore like an ecologist, and prepare them for future science investigations in the classroom and beyond. And they will earn fun metal button badges for completing challenges!

  • Download the free EcoQuest activity booklets and receive access to our online community platform, Padlet. 
  • Have questions about the activities? Our educators are available to assist. Email Ashley Alred at for support and to receive badges. 

How does the Cary EcoQuest Badges program work?

EcoExplorers will carry out investigations outside of their home ecosystems to learn ecology the way scientists at Cary do. The goal of this program is for kids to learn all they can about the ecosystem that exists in the natural space in their local area, such as a backyard, potted plants on a patio, the schoolyard, or whatever outdoor space may be available. They will keep a personal nature journal, collect insects, fungi and plants, set up experiments, and try their hand at being eco-artists and eco-educators. To complete this EcoQuest, EcoExplorers must complete a series of EcoChallenges for which they will receive badges in the mail. 

Who can participate?

Cary EcoQuest is recommended for children entering grades 2-5. We have recommended participation levels:

  • Junior EcoExplorer (suggested for grades 2-3): To complete the EcoQuest at the Junior EcoExplorer level, participants must complete three EcoChallenge badges: Naturalist, Field Tech, & Artist.
    • Note: Younger or less experienced participants are likely to require a moderate level of adult assistance for certain activities.
  • Senior EcoExplorer (suggested for grades 4-7): To complete the EcoQuest at the Senior EcoExplorer level, participants must complete all five EcoChallenge badges: Naturalist, Field Tech, Field Ecologist, Artist, & Teacher.
    • Note: Older or more experienced participants need minimal to no assistance with activities.

What is the time commitment? 

This program is flexible and your child/students can work at their own pace to achieve badges - they can do activities for an hour each day or longer, complete a badge within one week or spread it out over multiple weeks. 

Is there a deadline?

To receive badges by the end of this year, all checklists for completed badges must be received by no later than Friday, December 10th. After this date, delivery of badges before winter break cannot be guaranteed. The program will continue through the end of the 2022 school year.

Online Activities—Optional, yet encouraged!

For added support, we are offering themed guidance and activities that align with a specific badge through the online platform Padlet. Although screen time is not absolutely required to complete the EcoChallenges, we do recommend at least minimal online involvement because it allows participants to connect with Cary Educators and fellow EcoExplorers through sharing personal discoveries.

Padlet is a private platform that is free and simple to use, and will only be used by the EcoQuest program community. 

Badges Descriptions

Naturalist Badge: The mission of this badge is to notice and observe the different organisms in your habitat.

Field Tech Badge: The mission of this badge is to learn techniques to “take attendance” of the animals that live in your habitat and practice identifying them.

Field Ecologist Badge: The mission of this badge is to design and conduct your own field experiment to investigate more about animals and the food they consume.

Artist Badge: The mission of this badge is to use artistic techniques to explore, celebrate, and share your habitat.

Teacher Badge: The mission of this badge is to practice communicating ecology lessons by sharing what you have learned with your friends, classmates, and family.