Science school sets up in Avon classrooms |

Science school sets up in Avon classrooms

Bret Hartman/Vail DailySeven-year-old Alfredo Morales rests a rock on his head during science class Monday with the Gore Range Science School at Avon Elementary School.

AVON – Avon Elementary School’s environmental education program is not typical. The pilot program, which began this fall, serves all of school’s 250 students. The purpose of this program, teachers say, is to expose Avon Elementary students to hands-on natural science projects; prepare them for fifth-grade science tests; and, enrich the overall Avon Elementary learning environment. This program, a partnership between Avon Elementary and Red Cliff’s Gore Range Natural Science School, is made up of 75-minute lessons on topics such as spring animals, seasonal cycles, habitats, the local food chain and solar energy. “All of the kids seem really interested in natural sciences class and they are really excited to learn,” says Lara Carlson, the instructor from the science school. The Gore Range Natural Science School is known to educators and students throughout the valley for its year-round outdoor education and recreation programs. The school was founded in 1998 with the aim of raising environmental awareness and encourage young people to care for the land. About 1,500 students – from kindergarten to 12th grade, from public and private schools – participate each year in the science schools three- to five-day field programs. An additional 15,000 kids and adults participate in other science school programs. The recently launched Eagle Explorer Junior Naturalist program, for instance, is a collaborative effort between the school, Vail’s Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Vail Resorts, the Vail Recreation District, Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and the U.S. Forest Service. Designed for kids 6 and up, Eagle Explorers provides local and visiting youth with the incentive to explore the natural world.

Back at Avon Elementary, the goals of students include: • Studying the natural environment through multiple subjects.• Understanding the mountain environment’s history and ecology.• Becoming more involved in their community through annual long-term investigations.• Being better prepared for state science tests.• Making connections with Mexico, Central and South American through studying bird migration.As students move up through the grades at Avon Elementary, science lessons will build on material and themes taught in the previous year.

“I have always had the utmost respect for the Gore Range Science School because of what they have offered our community,” says Avon principal Barbara Collins. “When we were able to form a partnership with them through a grant I was excited for the students.”I don’t know a child who isn’t fascinated with science,” she added. Vail, Colorado

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