Kids Go Green!

Kids Go Green! Environmental Center & Gardens

Kids Go Green! logoThe Kids Go Green! Environmental Center and Gardens were constructed in 2011 on three-fourths of an acre behind the museum. This was made possible through a $150,000 Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America Grant. The grand opening of the garden took place in 2012, and many activities, classes and events have already taken place. The new garden area – with outdoor educational spaces, pavilion, water feature, rock garden, meadow garden, 7 raised planting beds, and more – opens many opportunities for the museum to collaborate with other organizations. It will provide many educational experiences for children and families of our region for many years to come.

SPECIAL NEWS!  Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge was given an Award of Excellence for a Permanent Exhibition for our Kids Go Green! Environmental Center and Gardens by the Tennessee Association of Museums on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 during its annual conference! Congratulations and thanks to all who worked on or contributed to this exhibit.


Garden Dedication

Viola Ergen and her extended family

Viola Ergen and her extended family

The gardens were officially opened and dedicated in honor of Viola Ergen, CMOR’s longtime business manager, on September 15, 2012. Viola’s friends and family from across the country were present for this special day. Mayor Beehan, CMOR Executive Director Mary Ann Damos, and CMOR Executive Deputy Director Carroll Welch welcomed visitors, and Garden Manager Bucky Smith dedicated a dogwood tree planted to commemorate Viola’s years of service to the museum. Viola continued to serve as the museum’s historian until her passing on May 21, 2013.


Bucky Smith, Garden Manager/ Educator, CMOR

Bucky Smith, Garden Manager/ Educator, CMOR

Bucky Smith, Garden Manager/ Educator Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge

Read Bucky’s most recent garden report.

Register for classes using the links on the left.
Deadlines: 2 weeks prior to class.


Check back here for new garden classes and workshops!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Summer camps this year included cooperation between our Kids Go Green! program and our new Kids in Action! initative. Four sessions of Kids in Action!: The Great Green Adventure were scheduled. Read more about these camps on our Imagination Station Summer Camps page.

Garden Tours

Garden Manager/Educator Bucky Smith will be conducting garden tours on the third Sunday of each month from March through October. (This is the same Sunday that the train garden is open.) In March only the tours will be on the fourth Sunday, March 22nd. Tours now include the Living Light Solar House!  There will be three tours available. Starting times are 1:15 PM, 2:00 PM, and 2:45 PM. Please sign up at the front desk.

Discovery Cases relating to the Kids Go Green! Gardens


Shades of Green is a program that fosters an appreciation for the natural world through art activities that consider the developmental stages of childhood in the approach to the environment. The eco-friendly art projects use recycled materials wherever possible. A book to be read before each project begins, a suggestion for an outdoor activity, complete art project instructions, and a sample of each project are included.


This Eco-Action discovery case is an educational case designed to help make being eco-friendly fundamentally part of our children’s lives. Lesson plans are interactive activities with books, nature cd, posters, power point presentation, and Eco Awards on natural history.  Also guides on aquatic insects, aquatic macro invertebrates, tree identification, garden insect identification, wildflowers identification,and much more are available!  Eco-Action is a passionate way to address recycling and developing innovative solutions to improve our environment through kid power. Eco-Action will assist kids in finding a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Eco-Action is to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover so nothing is wasted or becomes unwanted.Then we can live in a clean, green and healthy environment.  So to be eco-friendly is to care about our earth’s environment and to live in balance with it!  The case contains easy activities that can be used with students.  Please complete 6 overall activities:  2 activities from Ecology and Environmental Awareness section, 2 activities from Understanding Habitats in Nature section,1 activity from the Our Relationship with Nature section, and 1 activity from the Service Learning “Eco-Friendly Project” section. Completing 6 activities as described will earn the Kids Go Green! Certificate of Appreciation for your classroom or meeting place.


Healthy Living is a program to help kids address healthy eating habits and give them the knowledge to pick healthy food from the grocery store or the Kids Go Green! Garden. Using fun games and activities, children will learn the fundamentals of the right foods to eat, the correct amounts to eat, and healthy combinations.

Teachers may rent discovery cases for up to 2 weeks. There is a $25.00 charge along with a refundable deposit of $20.00 to cover any losses or damage. Replacement or damage costs over $20.00 will be requested upon the return of the case and after an inventory has been conducted.

To check out a discovery case, contact the Museum’s Education Director, Lorraine Bowen, at (865) 482-1074, Ext. 106. She will check to see if the case is available and make arrangements for you to pick up the case. The museum does not deliver discovery cases.


Garden Manager/Educator Bucky Smith visits local schools to share information about the Kids Go Green! gardens and its programs.  He brings a Power Point presentation on plants – what they need to grow and what needs they have in common with people.  His presentation is entitled “P.L.A.N.T.S.,” and part of the fun is learning what those initials stand for!  To schedule a visit to your classroom, please contact Bucky at 482-1074 or Email him.


Fourth and fifth grade students can sign up for the Junior Eco-Gardeners program. READ THE DETAILS of the program.

Students ages 9 through 12 can become JUNIOR ECO-RANGERS.

Kids can choose ECO-FRIENDLY PROJECTS to try.

Are you interested in bees?  Bees deliver pollen to flowers; they also produce honey, used in foods and beverages, and beeswax, used to make candles, cosmetics, and polishes for furniture and shoes.  Olaf and Barbara Storaasli of Oak Ridge have kindly offered us a link to their website about bees.  Included on the site are webcams to view their beehives, links to material from the PBS program NOVA, and a number of fun and educational videos about bees. Please note that Olaf and Barbara have recently added a fourth hive, as well as a history of their apiary entitled “Our Bees.” Olaf has also started a blog about beekeeping.

The Anderson County Beekeepers Association is open to those wishing to learn more about bees and beekeeping. The July newsletter is also now available.

We are profoundly grateful to our contributors:

IMLS_Logo_2cInstitute of Museum and Library Services
Larry and Margaret Allard
James and Rhonda Bogard
Arden and Marsha Burkholder
Joan Burkholder
Larry and Marge Burkholder
Ch2M Hill
Steve and Mary Ann Damos
Virginia Dunlap
Viola Ergen
Gordon and Miriam Fee
Mark Fuhrman Complete Landscaping Services
Steve and June Gibbs
Dr. Sue Hamilton
Marth and Jonathan Hart
Patricia Imperato
Bruce and Phyllis Jacobson
Hal and Pam Jernigan
Harold and Helen Jernigan
Jeanne Lane
Brad Marsh and Elizabeth Obenshain
John and Eileen Neiler
Rotary Club of Oak Ridge
Ted and Selma Shapiro
Chris Smith, Y-12 Federal Credit Union
Ellen Smith and Rich Norby
Richard Spining
David and Marilyn Stanley
The Telluray Foundation
Tennessee Naturescapes
Paul and Pam Williams