HSD middle school students examine objects This waterfall is one of many scenic
on a lake shore during a hike in Grand Teton places students visited during a trip to
National Park in Wyoming. Thirty-five students Yellowstone National Park and is one of
spent a week in the park this summer. more than 40 waterfalls there.
Approximately 35 HSD middle school students and several staff members spent a week this summer in Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
The visits were part of a trip to the Teton Science Schools, located in nearby Jackson Hole. The trip has become an annual event and is designed to immerse the students in two of the United States’ most well-known national parks while exposing them to science, creating leadership and teamwork opportunities and making new friends.
“This year, we focused on ecology, plants and animals, geography and geology,” said Carrie Launius, learning facilitator and District science coordinator. “We also added a day in Yellowstone.”
The students began the week by hiking through burn areas in Grand Teton, which showed students the impacts made by fire. The boys and girls also made models of glaciers on beaches left behind by actual glaciers and they worked besides scientists to tag and release song birds.
“My favorite part of the trip is watching the students learn and gain experiences of a lifetime,” said Launius. “The geography is so different there as is the wildlife.”
At Yellowstone, the group studied hot springs using thermal guns, watched Old Faithful erupt and viewed tall waterfalls. Discovering tracks made by bison, elk, beavers, bears and wolves proved popular with many of the students. Sunset did not signal the end of the learning day sometimes, as students and staff participated in occasional nighttime hikes. Teton staff recommended that visitors bring at least one pair of athletic shoes and enough winter clothes to dress in layers. Even in the summer, the area can still receive snow or at least cold nighttime and morning temperatures due to its high elevation.
Throughout the year, Teton Science Schools provide three- to seven-day programming for student groups from across the country. These programs are developed collaboratively with school leaders, assuring that educational standards and objectives are integrated into the programs. Programs can be developed to tour the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem with accomplished field instructors. Students live in dormitory-style buildings or in rustic cabins. Activities might include hiking, skiing or snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest, hands-on experiences in field ecology, animal tracking, wildlife observation, field journaling and sketching, practicing “Leave-No-Trace” guidelines, alpine ecology and ecological field research.
Staff members who accompanied the students include Launius, Courtney Herkenhoff and Beth Goodman at Hazelwood Northwest Middle School, Mark Herkenhoff at Hazelwood East Middle School, Karis Jackson at Hazelwood Central Middle School, Scott Kratzer at Garrett Elementary School, Dustin Stockmann at Hazelwood West High School and Chris Link at Hazelwood Central High School.
Teton Science Schools have offered quality educational programming in Grand Teton National Park since 1967, utilizing the wild lands of Yellowstone National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge. Regardless if students cover geology, ecology, weather or plant and animal adaptation, they will leave the program with a deep understanding and appreciation for the ecology and unique natural history of the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem.