Workshops & Home School Programs

To register for a workshop please contact (423) 434-HAND ext. 808 or email

Join us Select Saturdays for The Big Dig!

The Big Dig is a one-of-a-kind, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, paleontology experience offered by Hands On! Discovery Center and the East Tennessee State University Museum of Natural History!  Participants will have the opportunity to work alongside paleontologists and follow the process from beginning to end, from searching for fossils in the field to curating them in the museum collection.  

For ages 12 to adult.  Ages 12-16 must be accompanied by a paying adult, age 18+.  

The program is 10:00am – 4:00pm and is available on the following dates:

  • August 10
  • August 24
  • September 7
  • September 21

Spots are very limited and pre-registration and payment are required two weeks in advance of each date.  Click here for more information!

Tuesday, August 27th, 4-6pm – Fossil & Artifact ID Night

You don’t have to be a paleontologist to find fossils, but identifying them is a different story.  Bring in any kind of rock, fossil, artifact, or mineral and scientists at the museum will provide space for the study of these finds. There will be an archaeologist, paleontologist, and geologist on site. The event is free and open to the public but does not include admission to exhibits.

Saturday, August 31st, 10am-3pm – Archaeology Day

The day will include a variety of activities and demonstrations for all ages. Scientists, students, and volunteers will display artifacts from Tennessee and beyond, demonstrate research methods using drones and remote sensing, and lead visitors in activities including spear-throwing and flintknapping. The event will feature experts from ETSU and the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

At 11 am, there will be a public talk, “More than a Mutt: New insights into America’s earliest dogs,” presented by Dr. Chris Widga, regarding his research into the archaeological record of ancient Americans’ canine companions.

Activities will be on-going from 10am to 4pm. All Archaeology Day activities are free to the public. All activities are also included with admission to the Hands On! Discovery Center: $10 for adults and children 4 and older.

Saturday, September 21st – Red Panda Day

Calling all Red Panda Rangers!  Join us in recognition of International Red Panda Day to learn more about red pandas of the past and of today, uncover their significance to the Gray Fossil Site, and try out some red panda activities and crafts.  Programs announced periodically throughout the day.

Saturday, September 28th, During the Day – Solar Scope for Fall Astronomy Day

Join us for some star gazing of our Sun gazing in recognition of the upcoming Fall Astronomy Day!  Take a turn using our Celestron EclipSmart solar telescope, which is able to directly align to the Sun and filter the intense sunlight for safe solar observation!  Programs by announcement periodically throughout the day.  Weather permitting, stay tuned to social media for updates regarding weather.  Limited access to scope based on participants. Included with general admission.

Saturday, September 28th, 7-9pm – Star Party

Join us for some out-of-this-world stargazing in recognition of the upcoming Fall Astronomy Day!  Take a turn using our Celestron NexStar computerized telescope or astronomy binoculars.  Weather permitting, stay tuned to social media for more information and for updates regarding weather.  Limited access to scopes and binoculars based on attendees.  Admission is $3 per person ages 4+, children 3 and younger are free.  Exhibit spaces are closed during this event.

More programs coming soon!