SWEP's Winter Discovery Center in partnership with Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association offers around 700 third, fourth and fifth grade students the opportunity to engage in wildlife monitoring, winter ecology, snowpack analysis, winter survival skills, snow science investigations and more. These interactive science lessons are followed by time spent skiing or snowshoeing on the beautiful trails of the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area in Tahoe City, California.
These third through fifth grade students are offered age-based lessons that are in alignment with class curriculum. Each class is encouraged to come to two to three sessions throughout the winter programming for two separate lessons, each building on the previous lesson.
In each class, the students follow the scientific processes to consider a specific question, come up with a claim and then conduct hands on experiments communicate their findings to then come to solid conclusions. These lessons provide opportunities for exploration and learning while also being directly related to our local environment.
Students address questions like: How does a thermometer actually work? What native animals live in the Tahoe National Forest? How does the shape of ice and snow affect the melting rate? Does all snow hold the same amount of water?
SWEP works with SnowSchool, a Winter Wildlands Alliance program, to incorporate citizen science opportunities for our students. Each class that attends the Winter Discovery Center is invited to work together as a class to come up with a snowpack prediction of the deepest recorded snow depth and greatest recorded snow water equivalent for the 2019/20 snow year. Students analyzed historical and current data from the SnoTel site outside of Tahoe City to inform their predictions.
This well balanced program is perfect for getting students outside to play in our winter environment (for some students it is their first time on skis!) in a safe and fun way while also offering detailed science-based curriculum.
Thank you to Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area and TTUSD for partnering with us on this program!