Education Programs


The Kentucky Derby Museum is excited to resume field trips and welcome back students.
We ask that all field trips follow your district’s mask policy during your field trip.

**Protocols are subject to change.


The Kentucky Derby Museum is proud to offer programming designed to supplement and introduce core curriculum standards taught in the classroom. Every program is engaging, interactive and FUN.

Contact Chami Weeratunga, Museum Educator and Program Coordinator, for questions on programming and scheduling a field trip.

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Arts and Humanities | MathScienceScience/Practical LivingSocial StudiesSummer Programming

Arts and Humanities


Program Summary: Horses take center stage as your students participate in age appropriate stories featuring both fictional and nonfictional horses. We will explore the different elements that make up a story, as well as other early reading strategies. 

Program Goals: Students understand the importance and fun of reading while strengthening basic reading skills. They understand some basic elements of Thoroughbred racing.

Core Academic Standards:

  • Kindergarten Reading Standards for Literature: 1, 6, 10
  • Grade 1 Reading Standards for Literature: 1
  • Kindergarten Reading Standards for Informational Text: 5, 6, 10
  • Kindergarten Speaking and Listening Standards 1-3, 6
  • Grade 1 Speaking and Listening Standards 1-3

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Racing Colors (PK-1) MATH

Program Summary: Jockeys silks are filled with many shapes and colors, and we will identify a variety of them in this engaging look into the riders who compete in the Kentucky Derby. We’ll also learn about jockey safety equipment before designing our own class jockey silks.

Program Goals: Students understand we commonly use shapes and colors to communicate and identify things around us; that owners design jockey silks as a unique combination of shapes and colors. They will be able to use shapes and colors to design a jockey silk.

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Mathin' Around The Track (1-3) MATH

Program Summary: What does it take to win the Kentucky Derby? It takes a fast horse, and a whole lot of MATH, of course! Students will solve problems taken from the “Five Big Ideas of Math” (Number Properties and Operations, Measurement, Geometry, Probability, and Algebra) as they prepare their horse for the Kentucky Derby in this real-world application of math.

Program Goals: Students understand math is used in day-to-day activities – even while preparing a horse for the Kentucky Derby.

Core Academic Standards:

  • 1.OA 1-2, 4-6, 8; 1. NBT 4-5; 1. MB 2-3; 1. G 1, 3; 2. OA 1-3; 2. NBT 2, 5-8; 2. MD 1-4, 7; 2. G 3; 3. OA 1-4; 3. NF 1, 3; 3. MD 1; 3. G 2

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Odds in Everyday Life (4-8) MATH

Program Summary: Ratios and probability are the focus of this real-world application of math. Students gather data by observing past history, as well as conduct a scientific experiment to make predications. We conclude the program with a running of our own “Derby,” and utilizing probability to help make predications.

Program Goals: Students understand probabilities can often be used in everyday problem solving. They understand structuring a situation in terms of ratios, and can then apply the use of probabilities in a variety of real-world applications. They understand the process for selecting the post-positions for horses in the Kentucky Derby.

Core Academic Standards:

  • 4. NF 5-6; 6. RP 1-2; 6. SP 1, 5; 7. RP 2; 7. EE 3; 7. SP 1-2, 4-7

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Science on the Track (4-8) SCIENCE

Program Summary: What does it take to build a safe athletic surface for horses? It all goes back to the process of the weathering a rock, and how it eventually turns to sediment. We will explore both physical and chemical weathering, as we build our own racetrack using a combination of different sediments.

Program Goals: Students understand basic differences in silt, sand and clay and how rock is weathered to form these particles. They apply knowledge to building and maintaining a racetrack. They can identify various landforms and determine how they affect the location of a racetrack.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SC-E-2.1.1, SC-E-2.3.1, SS-E-4.1.4, SS-E-4.4.4, SC-M-2.1.2, SC-M-2.1.4, SC-M-2.1.5, SS-M-4.1.2, SS-M-4.4.1, SS-H-4.1.3

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HorsePower: The Making of a Racing Machine (9-12) SCIENCE

Program Summary: For over four hundred years, humans have bred Thoroughbreds to sustain astounding speeds, culminating at Churchill Downs Racetrack in the Kentucky Derby. This program explores the ten physiological systems at work as each horse competes in this famous race. The role of human responsibility to these animals is emphasized, especially in the realm of genetics and a closed bloodline.

Program Goals: Students understand the Thoroughbred breed began in Great Britain, and were bred from three foundation sires. They will understand the ten physiological systems (skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, muscular, urinary, reproductive, digestive, endocrine, nervous and immune) and how each contributes to a horse competing in a race. Students will also understand the responsibility humans have to the breed as the industry contributes billions to the Kentucky economy.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SC-H-UD-U-4, SC-H-UD-S-2, SC-H-UD-S-7, SC-H-U-S-11, SC-H-BC-U-1, SC-H-ET-U-6, SC-H-I-U-2, SC-8-UD-S-3, SC-08-3.4.5, SC-8-UD-U-4

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Science/Practical Living


Program Summary: Keeping a Thoroughbred happy and healthy is much like taking care of a pet at home. Students learn teamwork is essential in preparing a horse for the Kentucky Derby, as they perform the many jobs in the stables.

Program Goals: Students understand the importance of daily animal care both in home pet situations as well as professionally in the sport of Thoroughbred racing. They understand the basics of horse care and grooming. They can identify and explain the use of several pieces of grooming equipment.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SC-E-3.1.2, PL-E-4.3.2

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Superhorse, The Shoe and You (4-12) SCIENCE/PRACTICAL LIVING

Program Summary: It takes two very special athletes to win the Kentucky Derby – one three year old Thoroughbred racehorse – and a jockey. This program will explore the athleticism and physiology of both athletes, as well as other factors that go into the making of a champion. Healthy lifestyle choices will also be covered in this highly interactive program. This program will use two Kentucky Derby legends as examples: the 1973 Triple Crown champion Secretariat, and four-time Derby winner Bill Shoemaker.

Program Goals: Students understand Thoroughbred horses and jockeys in athletic terms, including team aspects. They can identify and explain several pieces of basic horse racing equipment. They can relate good nutrition and training habits to their own lifestyles. They understand some basic equine physiology.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SC-E-3.1.2, MA-E-2.1.5, Pl-E-1.3.1, PL-E-1.3.4, PL-E-1.4.1, PL-E-1.5.1, PL-E-1.6.2, PL-E-2.3.2, PL-E-4.1.2, PL-E-4.4.3, SC-M-3.1.1, SC-M-3.2.3, PL-M-1.5.1, PL-M-1.5.2, PL-M-1.6.3, PL-M-2.3.2, PL-M-4.2.2, PL-M-4.4.3, PL-H-1.6.2, PL-H-4.4.3

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Social Studies

Creating Traditions (2-3) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: Let’s celebrate! The concept and importance of cultural traditions is explored before we attend our very own Kentucky Derby. We’ll act out the day as we participate in the many Kentucky Derby traditions - maybe even one of your students will win the Derby!

Program Goals: Students understand the concept of traditions and their place in both family and community. They recognize and describe well-known Kentucky Derby traditions. They understand traditions make our lives fuller. They can exhibit good role-playing skills.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SS-E-2.1.1, SS-E-2.1.2, SS-E-2.2.1

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Louisville and the Derby (3-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: Historic photographs, paintings and people bring the history of Louisville, as well as its signature event, the Kentucky Derby alive, as we travel through two centuries of history. Topics include transportation, social unrest, equality, natural disasters and communications.

Program Goals: Students understand the beginnings of the Kentucky Derby and significant developments throughout the history of Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Kentucky Derby, as well as developments in local social history. They understand and can identify several significant forms of transportation.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SS-E-2.4.1, SS-E-5.1.3, SS-E-5.2.3, SS-M-5.1.3, SS-H-5.1.3

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Economics and the Derby (4-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: Students see examples of items that have been used as "money" in other cultures to establish money as a representation of value. The difference between needs and wants, the concept of scarcity and the balance of supply and demand are established. Students observe and participate in hands-on demonstrations of making a buying decision, how the value of an item can diminish, and how money comes into a community and passes through many different hands. The program concludes with a demonstration of the economic impact of the Kentucky Derby on the local and regional economy.

Program Goals: Students understand and can demonstrate money as a symbol of value, the dynamics of making buying decisions, the changing value of items and how money circulates throughout a local economy. They understand the economic impact of the Kentucky Derby on the local economy.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SS-E-3.1.1, SS-E-3.1.2, SS-E-3.1.3, SS-E-3.3.1, SS-E-3.3.2, SS-E-3.4.1, SS-M-3.1.1, SS-M-3.1.2, SS-M-3.3.1, SS-M-3.3.2, SS-M-3.4.3, SS-H-3.1.1, SS-H-3.1.3

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Race Through Time (4-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: This program covers six centuries of history, illustrating the importance of horses in societies around the world. Learn about the significant role of African Americans in the development of Thoroughbred racing in our country before and after the Civil War. Discover how their exceptional horse skills were passed down from the mounted warriors of ancient African kingdoms, through the centuries and across oceans to the first enslaved Africans working with horses in the United States, all the way to the emancipated horsemen who helped make the Kentucky Derby a success. Our history lesson culminates with the first Kentucky Derby, held in May 1875 and with the dominance of Black jockeys in the early years of the historic race.

Program Goals: Students understand the place of horse racing in historical context, how the role of horses in our society have changed over time, and how the sport of horse racing helped build Kentucky as we know it today. Students understand that enslaved persons held varied roles in American society and how horsemen fit within that structure. They understand reasons for and the process involved in the beginning of the Derby and Churchill Downs Racetrack. They can incorporate this information with existing knowledge.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SS-E-2.4.1/5.1.3/5.2.3, SS-M-5.1.3/5.2.1/5.3.5, SS-H-5.1.3

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Black Heritage in Racing Student Program (4-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: Did you know that 13 of the 15 jockeys in the first Kentucky Derby were African-American? Find out why as we delve into history and look at African-American contributions to the sport. We will also look at contributions being made today.

Program Goals: Students understand the role that African Americans played and can recognize some of their accomplishments in the sport of Thoroughbred racing from early Colonial times to the present. They are aware of key individuals in this story.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SS-E-2.4.1, SS-E-5.2.3, SS-E-5.1.3, SS-M-2.4.1, SS-M-5.1.3, SS-M-5.3.5, SS-H-2.4.1, SS-H-5.1.3

Thank you to our Sponsor

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Vanishing Bluegrass (4-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: Population growth, land development and suburban sprawl are issues that affect communities across America. In Kentucky, the Bluegrass Region is being threatened as more and more of its farmland is being developed, prompting the World Monument Fund to include this region on its list of 100 most endangered sites. This interactive program explores the early days of the Bluegrass Region, as Thoroughbred farms became established and flourished. Three historic Thoroughbred farms will be “visited” as students see the effects of suburban sprawl and land development. Students will participate in activities that show that changes are taking place all around them – in their communities, neighborhoods and even schools; and they have a voice in what they want their community to look like.

Program Goals: Students understand the importance of the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky. They learn the origins, as well as some of the great farms that are an integral part of the cultural and economic landscape of the Bluegrass Region. The effects of the Civil War are explored, as well as the current issue of suburban sprawl and land-use issues most communities in Kentucky are dealing with.

Core Academic Standards:

  • SS-06-4.1.2, SS-06-4.3.2, SS-06-4.4.3, SS-05-4.4.3

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Kentucky's Derby (4-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: Take a trip back in time as we meet the men and women – and horses - who shaped the history of the Commonwealth.

Program Goals: Students will understand the origins and development of the Kentucky Derby as not only an important event for the commonwealth of Kentucky, but also as a foundation of its cultural and economic identity.  Students will learn that a diverse group of men and women contributed to Kentucky and its place within a larger American history context.

Core Academic Standards:

  • 2.16, 2.20., SS-E-2.4.1., SS-E-5.1.3., SS-E-5.2.3, SS-M-5.1.3., SS-H-5.1.3, SS-EP-4.1.3., SS-04-4.1.3, SS-05-4.1.3.

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Careers in Racing (8-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: The Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky provides thousands of jobs in a variety of fields. Just about anything a person wants to do is available in the equine industry. Learn about different career options within the industry, as well as what it takes to land that perfect job.

Program Goals: The goal is to introduce students to the range of careers available in one industry, and also to stress the importance of training, learning, and gaining related experience.

Core Academic Standards:

  • 2.16, 2.19, 4.5, SS-M-2.4.1, SS-M-5.1.3, SS-M-5.3.5, SS-M-3.4.3, PL-E-4.1.2, PL-E-4.4.3, PL-HS-4.1.3, PL-HS-4.1.7, PL-HS-4.2.1, PL-HS-4.2.2

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Summer Programming

Derby Fun (PK-12)

Program Summary: "Derby Fun" is an age appropriate, and interactive program highlighting Derby stories, traditions and the fun – that is the Kentucky Derby. A variety of subjects including science, practical living, and humanities, are covered in 30 minutes.

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Aristides' Art Club (K-8) 

Program Summary: This fun craft engages while teaching more about the elements of Thoroughbred racing and the Kentucky Derby. Each student will receive an authentic Thoroughbred Racing Plate to decorate with a variety of materials including markers and beads and leave with their very own lucky horseshoe. Additional $3 per student.

Program Goals: Students understand why people and horses wear shoes, and how there are different shoes for different jobs. They exhibit artistic design skills.

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Backside Learning Center
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