Snowshoe races, face plants in the snow and snow angels were all a part of the fun during this year's Winter Trek program. 320 fifth grade students in Tahoe Truckee Unified School District had a chance to snowshoe through the forest to learn snow science and winter ecology while exploring fun snow activities. This field trip was the second in the series of three through the Sagehen Outdoor Education Program for fifth grade students. The goal of the Sagehen program is to connect students to their local environment through hands-on outdoor field explorations.
Breaking into groups of 7-10, each lead by a SWEP instructor, students addressed their first challenge, putting on their snowshoes. After every last strap was locked in the group set off in their own direction to begin the exploration.
Students learned about the winter adaptations of native wildlife, with special attention to our friend, the snowshoe hare, this was followed by a snowshoe race. Students then had a discussion about where the snow in the Tahoe National Forest comes from and the specific watershed that the snow will become a part of.
Students were asked a variety of questions about the snowpack which led them on exploratory missions armed with shovels, thermometers and meter sticks. These snow scientists came back to the group to discuss their findings. Students made important connections to the role snow plays in our watershed.
In partnership with SnowSchool, a Winter Wildlands Alliance program, 5th grade students had a special opportunity to collected snow depth data as part of a citizen science project connected to NASA's SnowEx project. The data students collected will be compared to data collected by aircraft, and will help develop remote snow sensing technology and lay the groundwork for a future snow satellite mission. Learn more information about NASA's SnowEx mission.
Each school site offered unique opportunities to learn about the microclimates of the Tahoe Truckee area. Truckee Elementary School and Donner Trail students explored the woods of Donner State Park alongside Donner Creek and experienced the deepest snow depth out of all of the sites. Glenshire Elementary students learned about the large meadow behind their school and why Glenshire typically receives less snow than other areas in our region. North Tahoe School students ventured out past their soccer field into the dense woods behind their school where snowpack levels varied greatly.
Thank you to Sagehen Outdoor Education Program for your partnership and support and to Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for this opportunity!