Education Programs

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 Heather Hill, Manager of Education Services, for questions on programming and scheduling a field trip.

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Arts and Humanities



Science/Practical Living

Social Studies

Summer Programming


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:

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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.

Core Academic Standards: K.G 1-3

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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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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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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 more full. 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 video 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: Six centuries of social history is covered in 45 minutes as we see how the roles of horses have changed over time. Students portray historical figures such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. to bring these stories alive. Our history lesson leads to May of 1875, with the running of the first Kentucky Derby.

Program Goals: Students understand the place of Thoroughbred racing in U.S. social history, including key roles played by African Americans. They understand the concept of a "skilled slave". 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

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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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Mass Media and the Kentucky Derby (8-12) SOCIAL STUDIES

Program Summary: The Kentucky Derby is one of our nation's most cherished sporting events. But how do we know that? We know because the Derby story is told through the mass media - television, radio, cinema, newspapers, magazines and now internet websites. 

Program Goals: This program explores how the media has changed in over a century of races. More importantly, we will delve into how the media has changed how the Derby story is told.

Core Academic Standards: Discipline: Media Arts. Anchor Standard 11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding. Enduring Understanding: Media artworks and ideas are better understood and produced by relating them to their purposes, values, and various contexts. Guiding Principle 7:  Students will integrate and evaluate content presented in print/non-print forms of text found in diverse media and formats. RI.6.7, RI.7.7, RI.8.7, RI.9-10.7.

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Summer Programming:

Aristides' Art Club (K-5) ARTS AND HUMANITIES

Program Summary: This program is a participatory craft experience that engages students while teaching them more about elements of Thoroughbred racing and the Kentucky Derby.

Students receive either:

Program Goals: Depending on the activity selected, students understand (Derby Hats) well-known Derby traditions, or (Horseshoes) the purpose of shoes for both humans and horses. They exhibit artistic skills.

Core Academic Standards: AH-E-4.1.42

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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.  Social studies, science, practical living and humanities are all subjects covered in this 30 minutes of Derby Fun.” 

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