Discovery Box Loan Program

A FREE Loan Program for Educators!

Bring Part of the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum Right Into Your Classroom!

The Discovery Box program is a free loan program of educational kits about various natural history topics, including animals and their habitats, human cultures, renewable energy, and more. Each kit is aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards and includes background information, suggested classroom activities, and a variety of specimens for students to touch and examine. Many boxes also include a DVD and select books, both fiction and nonfiction, to further engage students.

The Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum is also a loan site for the popular Illinois Department of Natural Resources Trunks, a loan box program through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Discovery Boxes may be checked out for a period of two weeks. With over 55 different Discovery Boxes to choose from, we are sure to have the perfect educational kit for your needs. These kits are perfect for classroom use, and are also available for nature centers, scout groups, nature clubs, child care centers, home school, historical societies, or other groups seeking to learn more about our world’s natural and cultural diversity.

Contact the Museum Education Coordinator, Laura Hall, by calling 630-829-6546 or e-mail for more information. Reserve your box today!

Use this easy Discovery Box REFERENCE SHEET when making your reservation

Plant Discovery Boxes
All About Plants
Foam models of plant lifecycles are featured in this box along with seed specimens, educational posters, transparencies, many plant activity suggestions and the Eyewitness Video: “Plants”.

Animal Discovery Boxes

Insects - Samples of displayed insects can be studied for similarities and differences. Written information about each insect is included, along with activities, posters and worksheets. Many teachers who have used this popular box have added ideas and transparencies.

Spiders - Students can look closely at a black widow, garden spider, tarantula and other specimens as they learn about spiders. Books and activities for learning about these arthropods are also included.


The World of Fish - This box contains information about the anatomy and physiology of fish. Information about the reintroduction of the smallmouth bass to the DuPage River is included. Specimens include a fish skeleton and a dissected fish in acrylic.

Amphibians and Reptiles

Frogs and Toads - Learn about common Illinois amphibian species. This box also includes salamanders and newts. Specimens include frog and toad development, and a Mudpuppy skeleton, all encased in acrylic for close examination.

Snakes - Does a snake feel slimy when you pick it up? What do snakes do in winter? How do snakes eat? These are some of the questions that can be answered through the use of the included specimens, books, and the Eyewitness video: “Snakes”.

Turtles - Learn about turtles with this discovery box. How do they breathe? Where do they go in the winter? What do they feel like? Specimens are included for students to study turtle development, shells, and skeletons. Read the story “Minn of the Mississippi” and learn about the travels of a turtle down the Mississippi River. Illinois specimens are highlighted and An Atlas of Biodiversity is included along with other valuable Illinois information.


All About Birds - This popular box features the hands-on activities developed by Louise Huffman for a workshop for elementary school teachers given in February, 1996. Her creative activities are supplemented with background information about common backyard birds, migration, and nests. This box includes specimens of mounted birds, nests and feathers.

Birds of Prey - Raptor adaptations and the problems they encounter in their position at the top of the food chain are discussed through posters, activity sheets, videos and specimens, including a hawk, an owl, and the smaller vireo.

Great Horned Owl - This box contains an owl, owl skull, owl feathers, and background information. There are posters, activities for class use and suggested topics for discussion. This is one of our most popular boxes. Reserve it today!

Snowy Owl - Includes contains an owl, owl skull, owl feathers, and background information. There are posters, activities for class use and suggested topics for discussion. Also includes a lemming and information about the Arctic Tundra.


Bats - Learn about bats and their importance to an ecosystem. Specimens of a brown bat, a Mexican silver hair bat, and a bat skeleton encased in plastic are included for study. Bat Conservation International curriculum materials are included.

Wolves - Information about wolves and their reintroduction and re-colonization in National Parks provide a background for student discussions about the problems involved in such a project. There are also literary lesson plans for “Julie of the Wolves” and “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”. A wolf skull is included for students to study. Information about other large mammal predators is included.

Animal Adaptation Discovery Boxes
Topics such as feather types, use, care, and color are presented along with flight information. Transparencies, feathers, and suggested classroom activities help students understand the complexities of feathers.
How Do They Eat?
Students can manipulate and compare real skulls of herbivores, carnivores, insectivores, and omnivores. Activity suggestions and worksheets are included for classroom use along with specimen information.
Skin Structures
This box was developed as a result of the winter 2000 workshop for teachers given by Louise Huffman and Nancy Pearson. Their activities are included along with many specimens of the different kinds of adaptations that allow animals to survive. Samples of different skin structures are included for students to examine: deer antler, shells, fur, feathers, claws, porcupine quills, and others. There is written information about each specimen and an article on mammal fur that is excellent background material.
Supplemental Animal Loan Materials
Carolina Biological Supply Company "Natures Window Series"

These small carrying cases contain a variety of specimens mounted in clear plastic to help students to explore a particular topic of the natural world.

  • Animal Kingdom 1
  • Animal Kingdom 2
  • Insects
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • A Walk on the Beach
Animal X-Rays
These X-ray films of animal skeletons will fascinate students. There are a variety of species included which make these ideal for discussions on anatomical similarities and differences among animals.
Rubber Animal Scat Models
Students can learn to identify animals and discover clues to their diets through scat by exploring these rubber models. A variety of animals are represented and an identification key is included.
Rubber Animal Track Models
Students can learn to identify animal tracks by exploring these rubber models. Students can also deduce how the animals move on different surfaces, defend themselves, or catch prey. A variety of animals are represented and an identification key is included.
Ecosystem Discovery Boxes
Endangered Species
Learn about the various endangered and threatened species of the United States and Illinois. This box includes posters, specimens, and the video “Going, Going, Almost Gone: Animals in Danger”. Activities developed by the World Wildlife Fund in their Windows on the Wild series are highlighted.
Exotic Species (Aquatic)
What is an exotic or alien species? Zebra mussels are one focus of many activities designed to teach about the environmental and economic threats posed by exotic aquatic species. This box was developed using activities and information from the National Sea Grant programs. (This box is generally paired with the terrestrial exotic species box.)
Exotic Species (Terrestial)
What is an exotic or alien species? How do they invade an area and what impact do they have on an ecosystem? Learn all about the environmental and economic threats posed by exotic plant and animal species. (This box is generally paired with the aquatic exotic species box.)
Introduction to Biodiversity
What does the word biodiversity mean? Why is biodiversity important to all of us? The excellent Windows on the Wild curriculum developed by the World Wildlife Fund is featured and the many specimens of vertebrates and invertebrates in the box foster student learning.
Northern Illinois Biodiversity
Introduce your students to the huge variety of species found in Illinois. This box contains a wealth of written information and activities to lead your class through a discovery of glacial northern Illinois to the modern day Chicago Wilderness. Touchable specimens include feathers, furs, fluorite, lamp shell fossils, and a deer antler.
Northern Illinois Woodlands
This box has information and activities about the Northern Illinois Woodlands. Some of the topics are animal tracks, what's in a log, the Seasons, and functions of trees. Specimens include a gray squirrel, woodcock, striped skunk skin as well as the Walk in the Woods kit with additional specimens and activities.
North American Desert
This box introduces students to the deserts of the southwestern United States. What are the adaptations of the animals in this environment? Specimens include a scorpion, tarantula and other small animals and insects of the desert.
Prairie Field Trip
Visit the prairie with slides, posters and a life-size drawing of big blue stem grass. Prairie issues such as restoration, fire, roots, and animal life are presented. Specimens include fox and coyote skins, red shouldered hawk talons and insects.
Tropical Rainforest
This box is organized around the theme: The People, Plants and Animals of the Rainforest. Specimens include small animals and insects of the rainforest.
The wetlands metaphor box introduces students to the many valuable functions of a wetland using slides, posters, activity sheets, and other written information. Issues such as preservation, flooding, animal diversity and food webs are introduced. Specimens include a muskrat skin, turtle shell, red-winged blackbird and other small wetland animals.
Geology/Paleontology Discovery Boxes
Specimens of both plant and animal fossils are included along with written materials and suggested activities. Fossils from Mazon Creek in Illinois are featured. Directions for making fossils are included along with other hands-on activities developed by Tim Brinker.
Rocks and Minerals
Various rock and mineral samples, posters, written information and suggested activities are included. This box includes the Eyewitness Video: “Rocks and Minerals”.
Human Culture Discovery Boxes
Lewis & Clark Expedition
Information and specimen samples of animals that the explorers encountered during the Lewis & Clark Expedition are highlighted. The box contains six pelts and corresponding skulls, along with books, and a video about the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Stone Tools
This box includes stone tools made by ancient Native Americans which were used for their daily activities. It is a basic box with tools and identification cards.
Physical Science/Renewable Energy Discovery Boxes
Exploring the Power of Wind
This Discovery Box contains materials for students to use as they explore the wind as a renewable energy source. Teachers who participated in three renewable energy workshops suggested the activities. The binder contains basic information about wind as an energy source and many activities that can be used at different grade levels. Materials in the box include anemometers, wind tubes, a wind powered generator, voltmeter, and compasses.
Solar Energy
This Discovery Box has information about solar energy and activities to introduce solar power to students. Activities and materials in this box were suggested by teachers who participated in a series of renewable energy workshops at Benedictine University. The box includes sun print paper, solar ovens, solar cars, solar cells, UV beads, and the Patrick Technologies kit about solar energy along with many other materials and books for your use.
Solar Powered Cars
These fun cars are powered by solar cells. Students can see how the cars can race along fueled by the sun. Instructions included.
Solar Powered Radios
Show students how the sun can actually power a radio through the use of solar cells. Instructions included.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Trunks
Aquatic Illinois
This IDNR trunk includes items to help teach about biological, historical, chemical and other aspects of water. Books, posters, water sampling tools, CD-ROMs, videos, and activities are among the contents of this trunk. Suggested grades: 5 - 9.
Illinois Birds
Studying birds can jump-start your students' interest in nature and conservation. The Illinois Birds Trunk is a great way to enhance your lessons. This trunk is filled with field guides, books, track and egg replicas, CD-ROMs, videos, DVDs, CDs with bird songs and calls and even bird replicas that sing! Suggested grades: PreK - 8, but can be modified for other grade levels.
Illinois Fossils
This IDNR trunk provides the opportunity for students of grades 4 - 8 to work with actual fossils and fossil molds. Posters, books and replicas are also included. This box pairs well with the Fossil Discover Box.
Illinois Insects and Spiders
Insects and spiders fascinate students. Encourage them to learn more about these organisms by using the resources in this trunk. Books, CD-ROMs, student activities, field guides, posters, insect/spider observation equipment and a video are just some of the items included. Targeted Grades: PreK-6.
Illinois State Symbols
Are you teaching about Illinois? Then the Illinois' State Symbols trunk is perfect for you! Photos, replicas, actual samples, activity books, information and other items are included for your use. There's an Illinois Facts section, too.
Illinois Wild Mammals Trunk
This trunk was developed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and contains skulls, furs, rubber tracks, rubber scat, field guides, activity books, CD-ROMs, DVDs and other resources about mammals in our state.
People and Animals from Illinois' Past
This IDNR trunk includes many items relating to Native Americans and to wild mammals that once lived in Illinois. The Native American section has posters, activities, pottery samples, Native American games, a video, samples of natural products used by the Native Americans and much more. Learning about the Ice Age and other mammals that once roamed what is now Illinois will be easy with the models, tooth replicas, books, video, posters, activities and other items representing these animals. This trunk is targeted to grades 1 - 3.
Chicago Wilderness Materials Box
This box contains lesson plans and materials for three problem-based scenarios based on successful restoration, stewardship, and education efforts in the Chicago area. This box and the educator's guide are a Chicago Wilderness project.

Development of these boxes was made possible by grants from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Helen V. Brach Foundation, the DuPage Community Foundation and the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation.

***Discovery Boxes should be reserved at least one week prior to your program. Boxes are checked out for a period of 14 days. Boxes are free of charge if returned intact and undamaged. Any lost or significantly damaged boxes may incur up to a $50 replacement fee per box. Reservations are on a first come, first serve basis only.***

Boxes may be reserved at any time by contacting Museum Education Coordinator, by emailing or calling (630) 829-6546.

©Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum at Benedictine University, Lisle, IL

"They were easy to use and great for the kids. Just the ability to be able to touch and explore the plants and mammals was so exciting!"
- 3rd grade teacher


"We used the skin and skeleton on our "Discovery" table. The children used magnifying glasses to look at them."
- Local preschool teacher


"The children enjoyed seeing real life owls. We sketched the owls!"
- Kindergarten teacher


"Students enjoyed seeing and feeling the skins"
- Local home school alliance educator

Blue Morpho Butterfly



Looking for educational posters for your classroom or education space?! We have many extra nature posters! Please ask Laura Hall about our FREE posters, and you can pick them up with your Discovery Box loan. Call (630) 829-6546 for information.

Discovery Boxes are reserved on a first come, first served basis. Some of our boxes are very popular and may have been reserved months in advance. We suggest reserving boxes at least 3-6 weeks prior to your requested pick up date. Reservations must be submitted at least one week prior to the pick up date. Boxes are checked out for a 2 week period.

All Discovery Boxes are to be picked up and dropped off with a museum staff member or student worker.
Pick up/drop off with the museum docent during open hours varies with our seasonal hours. Pick up/drop off with the museum staff during museum office hours on Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Boxes are never to be left unattended. Please coordinate all pick up/drop off times with the Education Coordinator at least 2 business days in advance.

Thank you for using our FREE Discovery Box Loan Program!

Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum
Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum Facebook Museum Summer Hours
June - July
Tuesday - Thursday   1:00pm - 4:00pm

Or by appointment: (630) 829-6546
5700 College Rd.
Lisle, IL 60532
2nd Floor of Birck Hall