Vail Daily column: Students learn about science while having fun |

Vail Daily column: Students learn about science while having fun

Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: This column, submitted by Vail Resorts, showcases the nonprofits that the company supports through its Vail Resorts Echo program.

Walking Mountain’s middle and high school programs are much more than your normal field trip. The SOAR (Science Outreach and Applied Research) programs are outdoor learning experiences that provide students the opportunity to engage in scientific research, work together as a team and gain a greater connection to the natural world in which they live.

This year, 824 middle school and high school students experienced hands-on learning through the SOAR program, studying topics including winter ecology, snow science, biodiversity research, evolutionary geology and geomorphology. Students engage in hands-on science and are challenged academically, all while having a whole lot of fun. According to a sixth-grader from Homestake Peak School, “when you’re inside for science you don’t get to see what the teacher is talking about. Learning outside, you can actually see it and understand it.”

During SOAR programs, students gather important data such as the diversity of macro invertebrates in local streams, leading to a better understanding of water quality and stream ecology. Or they dig snow pits to assess the various layers of snow and perform stability tests, leading to a better understanding of snow morphology and avalanches. Through SOAR, students are introduced to field research methods enhancing their ability to more fully observe, interpret and appreciate our natural world and their relationship to it.

The SOAR program is supported by Vail Resorts Echo and empowers students with knowledge and critical thinking skills to become thoughtful stewards of our environment. This support is vital in making our programs affordable and accessible to everyone. In the same manner that ecology is the study of connections and balance in nature, Vail Resorts is deeply connected and concerned about this place and its people.

Markian Feduschak is executive director of Walking Mountains Science Center. Through Vail Resorts Echo, Vail Resorts hopes to connect its communities to its efforts — from on the ground conservation programs to grants for local schools. Aimed at both protecting the natural resources that surround the resorts and helping build stronger communities where its employees live and work, Vail Resorts Echo encompasses three core efforts: environmental stewardship, charitable giving and community engagement. Learn more at

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