Think of it as the ultimate field trip! Classes are conducted in a coniferous forest, at the edge of a mountain stream, on the shore of a lake, and in a meadow. The most useful tools for learning are readily available; the students’ five senses. The subject of ecosystem science serves as the context for standards-based study of science, technology, mathematics, and language arts.
Operating in the fall, these 3-5 day programs provide an unforgettable learning experience for 5th and 6th grade public, private, charter and homeschool students.
Students learn in small teams and are taught by University of Idaho graduate students, faculty, and staff. Each day, teams of 5-8 students accompany their instructors to field sites to scientifically characterize local ecosystems. They collect data on local atmospheric conditions, vegetative cover, soil characteristics, and aquatic ecosystems’ physical, chemical, and biological conditions. Finally, students work with fellow teammates and instructors to synthesize and analyze the data they’ve collected, compare it to data collected elsewhere, and make inferences based on their findings.
Team-building and mutual respect are important components of our field programs. New life skills in communication and group decision-making are the result when students participate in a series of low-ropes elements. Clear communication, respect (for ourselves and others), and teamwork are stressed through active metaphor. The 4 “Cs” of caring, cooperation, compromise, and communication are reinforced during the entire week, in the field, while sharing chores, and in small group living. Low instructor-student ratios allow us to give abundant individualized attention.