Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


America’s First Industries: Along the Monocacy Creek

Tannery © Paul S. Bartholomew
Photo Credit: Paul S. Bartholomew

Travel back in time with your students with the America's First Industries: Along the Monocacy Creek school tour!

These STEM workshops focuses on the physical sciences, including chemistry and physics, as well as engineering and technology, which highlight how advanced the Colonial Industrial Quarter was for its time!

Children doing an activity by Scott Picotti
Photo Credit: Scott Piccotti

Explore the different technologies that helped establish Bethlehem as a prosperous and self-sustaining settlement with these hands-on STEM programs!

Complement traditional classroom science with these on-site workshops that give students access to materials and instructors that would otherwise be unavailable to them!

Students will use inquiry skills to explore for themselves the scientific and technological achievements of early Bethlehem.

Students will learn the science behind the processes used at the 1762 Waterworks and the 1761 Tannery, and explore the engineering principles which allowed the Moravian settlers to create the first pumped municipal water system in America.

This program was developed in partnership with the Da Vinci Science Center, and complements both the PDE Standards Aligned System and the Next Generation Science Standards.

An adult helping a child with a craft
Photo Credit: Scott Piccotti

The programs will focus on the physical sciences, including chemistry and physics, as well as engineering and technology.

They will also explore the nature of science, giving students control over aspects of their learning, including exploration of materials and communicating their discoveries to their peers.


Chemistry: Students will explore natural materials that can be used as reagents for chemical reactions.

The workshop will focus on the processes of tanning leather and dying cloth used in the Colonial Industrial Quarter.

  •      Learning Outcomes
    • Use observations to compare and contrast rawhide with tanned leather
    • Postulate why leather was tanned
    • Explore the chemical processes that occurred during tanning
    • Learn how cloth dyes were made in the Colonial Industrial Quarter

Physics and Engineering: Students will use physical materials and models to explore technologies present in 18th century Bethlehem, such as water wheels, mills and building techniques.

After exploring these concepts, students will present their findings back to the group.

  •        Learning Outcomes:
    • Explore why Moravian builders used certain structural features in their building, such as arches and dovetail joints
    • Explore how gears can turn a vertical spinning motion into a horizontal one
    • Explore factors that affect the functioning of a water wheel
    • Explore how water was pumped from the spring to the settlement of Bethlehem
A woman in Moravian costume with a girls and blocks
Photo Credit: Scott Piccotti

In order to make your class’s field trip to the Colonial Industrial Quarter the most pleasant and best possible learning experience, we ask that you review these guidelines:

  • Before arriving, please place students into even groups of approximately 10-12 students per group. Please assign one chaperone per group.
  • Please make students and chaperones aware that they will stay in their assigned groups and travel as a group from station to station while at the CIQ.
  • The CIQ program does require students to be outdoors. They should dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy shoes for outdoor terrain.
  • The tour of the buildings in the CIQ requires walking outside and visiting some buildings that are not heated.  The program is held rain or shine.
  • A picnic lunch is permitted on site after the program concludes.  If you will be having lunch on site, students must bring their own packed lunch and drink.
  • Please emphasize good behavior with your students.
A group of people doing a STEM building activity
Photo Credit: Scott Piccotti

The program lasts approximately 2 hours.

If you have any other questions, contact our Museum Sites & Education Manager, Keith Sten.

Children doing an activity by Scott Picotti
Photo Credit: Scott Piccotti

Bethlehem is in the heart of the Lehigh Valley, only 60 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City.  The Colonial Industrial Quarter is located at 459 Old York Road in Bethlehem, PA.

From Route 22:

  • Take Rt. 378 S to Center City Exit (#3).
  • At end of ramp turn right onto Third Ave.
  • At stop sign turn right onto Union Blvd.
  • At traffic light turn right onto Main St.
  • At end of Main St. turn right onto Spring St.
  • Spring St. parking lot is on right.  Buses may park here.
  • Walk students across wooden footbridge.  HBMS rep. will meet you there.

From Route 309:

  • Take Rt. 378 North to Bethlehem
  • Take Main St. Exit off of Hill-to-Hill Bridge - stay in right lane
  • At end of ramp make hard right onto Spring St.
  • Spring St. parking lot is on right.  Buses may park here.
  • Walk students across wooden footbridge.  HBMS representative will meet you there.


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Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Registration and financial information about Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999, or on the web at www.dos.state.pa.us. Registration does not imply endorsement.