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Celebrating five years of science classes

Cindy Rumanno

If so, the Gore Range Natural Science School is in the midst of its fifth year of courses for local schools. In fact, chances are your kid already has enjoyed the “Gore Range experience.”

“The programs of the Gore Range Natural Science School offer a springboard for us to work from for the rest of the year,” says Brynn Manzella, a seventh-grade math and science teacher at Minturn. “An added benefit of working with the Science School is that my students get a real-world opportunity to work together as teams.”

For example, the school recently conducted biophysical monitoring studies with Minturn Middle School students as part of the science school’s Science Outreach and Applied Research Watershed Education Program, or SOAR.

The primary partners in SOAR include the Eagle and Lake County school districts, the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the Eagle River Watershed Council.

SOAR contributes to students understanding of ecological systems and related processes while involving them in the collection of biophysical baseline data within the Eagle River watershed – combining science education with what’s happening with the local environmental. As the watershed becomes increasingly populated and developed, the data collected by SOAR students will provide insight into the affects growth has on the natural environment.

The Gore Range Natural Science School offers many other programs to area school groups, too, ranging from Living Things for first- and second-graders to Winter Tracks and Signs for third-graders to Winter Ecology and Creative Expressions in Nature for high-schoolers.

All the programs directly compliment the Eagle County School District’s curriculum and are correlated with district standards, as well as those of the state.

The Gore Range Natural Science School also is proud of its Spanish-language program, which addresses the needs of our valley’s Hispanic students. Students can use Spanish field journals and research protocols that have been developed so the Spanish-speaking students can take as much advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Science School as English-speaking students.

At a time when performance assessment and results are more important than ever, a field experience with the Science School provides more than just a trip. Students enhance their ability to make informed decisions about the management of the natural resources while learning concepts in a “real-life” situation. Students who do not learn as well in a typical classroom often emerge as star students in the outdoor learning environment.

Students participating in the Science School’s programs must apply math, language arts, reading and geography – not just science.

“So this is what science is all about,” one high school student was overheard saying after a day at the school.

The Gore Range Natural Science School continues to raise funds from individuals, corporations and other organizations to support school group programming. Staff members work directly with individual teachers to create custom experiences that help them meet their learner outcomes.

For more information, call 827-9725.


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