SWEP was delighted to join forces with the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science to bring the Sagehen Outdoor Education Program to the fifth-grade classes in the TTUSD this fall. With a moratorium on field trips this quarter, we went to locations that were within walking distance of the schools where we could explore and learn outside with the students, in place of the traditional overnight at the Sagehen Research Station. Pivoting has been the name of the game for quite a while now!
TINS started each day with a lesson about bird migration, where students imagined they were migrating birds, overcoming obstacles as they traveled to nesting or feeding grounds. They then taught the children about the strength of insects, pitting students against grasshoppers and tiger bugs in the Insect Olympics.
SWEP taught two classes after lunch. The first lesson was a sensory walk. Students were encouraged to dive into nature using their five senses. Truckee Elementary and the Sierra Expedition Learning School got to enjoy time on the banks of Donner Creek at the Donner State Park. Deer ran past the class in conservancy space by Glenshire Elementary School and the Tahoe Lake students were lucky enough to find a bear snoozing in the shade! At Donner Trails Elementary, a trail that runs along the Yuba River, served as the sensory classroom. Students ate fir tips, searched for camouflaged animals and experienced the peace that comes from connecting to nature.
SWEP's other lesson had students become soil scientists, answering the question "What is soil?" Students were challenged to find two different samples of soil and determine what it was actually made of, what makes soils different, and why soil is important. They learned about how scientists are learning more about soil and understanding how important soil is in sequestering carbon. The lesson ended by combining science and art, with students adding water to their soil samples to create paint and soil paintings.
Everyone had lots of fun, while learning in the great outdoors. What more could we ask for?!
Thank you to the Sagehen Outdoor Program for supporting this program!