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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

Winter Science in a Virtual World

Winter Discovery Program 2021

As with all of our programs, our Winter Discovery Center winter science program looked a little different in 2021. Fortunately SWEP's partnership with the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association held strong and supported SWEP in continuing to offer winter science to students despite the pandemic.

What did the Winter Discovery Program look like in 2021?

SWEP offered virtual field trips from the yurt at the base of the Tahoe Cross Country Center to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School and Forest Charter School. Teachers were offered the option to attend one or two of our virtual classes. Two lesson plans were offered:

  • Tahoe Wildlife: animal tracking and winter animal adaptations

  • Snow Science: snowflake morphology

Both of these winter science lessons involved fun activities to virtually engage the students and encourage students to get outside to look for animal tracks in the snow or to start catching and observing snowflakes. Students now can ask and know how to find out whose track belongs to what animal and what atmospheric conditions cause different shaped of snowflakes.

446 students were invited to attend throughout the season, while many classes opted to attend both lessons which made a total of 673 opportunities to interact with students and share our enthusiasm for winter science and our local environment.

Getting students and families out on the snow...

In a normal year, our program combines science lessons in the yurt with the opportunity for students to cross country ski with their classmates, teachers and parent volunteers. This year, our science lessons were all delivered virtually and we were desperate to find a way to continue to get students out on the snow. Collaboration with Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association, led to the development of a pilot program called Free Skiing for Families. Free Skiing for Families invited students who participated in our WDC program to bring their families to TXC on Sunday afternoons where they were provided with equipment, tickets and a cross country ski lesson offered by high school student volunteers from the cross country ski team. The goal was to introduce students (and their families), who don't typically have opportunities to nordic ski, to get out on the snow and enjoy outdoor winter recreation. We hope to work with the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association in the future to make this new program available to even more families.

Thank you, Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association and Tahoe Cross Country Center for your support with this program! Thank you to all volunteer coaches for the Free Skiing with Families program.

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