Field Science & Leadership

7TH - 12TH GRADE

The Field Science and Leadership series offers inquiry-based programs designed to draw out students’ interests and curiosities to formulate research questions and implement field investigations. Working in small trail groups, students design and complete a field investigation about the forested or aquatic communities surrounding the Learning Center based on their scientific questions. The final day of the program includes a symposium-style discussion where each group presents their findings. Through this process, students gain firsthand experience with scientific equipment and field study techniques while learning how National Park Service researchers design field research projects and make land management decisions in our national parks.

CARNIVORE CURRICULUM

Students study North Cascades carnivores and their habitat in surrounding forests near the Learning Center. On the first day, students gain an overview of North Cascades ecosystems and engage in hands-on lessons about field inquiry, plant identification and forest carnivores. On the second day, students investigate the habitat potential of the forest community surrounding the Learning Center for threatened and endangered forest carnivores by examining tree diversity and canopy cover, coarse woody debris and ground cover in forest transects. Working in small groups, students gather data at their field study site and then compile and analyze their data back in the classroom. On the final day of the program, students present their findings and make conclusions about their research in a symposium-style discussion with their peers, teachers and national park representatives.

AQUATIC INVESTIGATIONS CURRICULUM

Students study the aquatic interactions between the physical, chemical and biological components of the local watershed. On the first day, students gain an overview of North Cascades ecosystems and learn the parameters researchers use to study water quality and aquatic ecosystems. On the second day, students develop a scientific question through site observations, which they will answer using a suite of data collection methods including water chemistry testing, benthic macroinvertibrate sampling and examination of physical stream characteristics. Working in small groups, students gather data at their field study site and then compile and analyze their data back in the classroom. On the third day, students present their findings and make conclusions about their research in a symposium-style discussion with their peers, teachers and national park representatives.

Mountain School makes the magic of the wilderness real for kids

"The concept behind Mountain School, run by nonprofit North Cascades Institute, sounds simple: In a three-day mountain camp experience, imbue in school children a visceral connection with this special place — the thumping, mountainous heart of Northwest wilderness. Make its magic real to them at a micro level, in the hope that some of them will feel the pull to return as powerfully as a salmon headed home to spawn. Slip into their consciousness rudimentary skills of a naturalist — the ability to observe and make the same personal connections to other wild lands.

This is how it’s done at Mountain School. Has been, in fact, for 25 years as a program that sprouted in leaky Army surplus tents at Newhalem Campground matures into a national model for wilderness education on public lands."

— The Seattle Times, August 2015

Mountain School Video (6:08)

MM-MS-thumb.jpgLearn more about Mountain School with this fun video by Omar Garcia and Michelle Tamez. 6:08Watch Video

 

MM-MSTV-thumb.jpgProduced by KCTS 9 Seattle for the "North Cascades: People, Places and Stories", this episode examines Mountain School. 4:54 | Watch Video

Field Guide to North Cascades Institute
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