Last week Mary Ellen, Dan, and Deb spent the week with the seventh graders of North Tahoe Middle School investigating the school’s native Sugar Pine population to prepare for week two, when they planted Sugar Pine trees with the Sugar Pine Foundation. The students overarching question was “What affects Sugar Pine growth?” and each group of students studied different aspects of the trees and their environment to investigate this question.

Students conducted pre-program reading before going into the field, which focused in particular on blister rust.

In preparation for the field day, the students formed groups and designed original research projects, centered around key research questions. Groups asked questions like:

-How does the blister rust affect the amount of beetles living in the tree?
-How does the soil temperature affect the amount of needles and cones near the sugar pine tree on the ground?
-How does the amount of beetles affect the amount of pinecones there are on a tree?
-Does the amount of bark beetle holes affect the amount of sap?
-Does a tree grow better on a flat surface or on a slope?

Students then went into the field to measure samples and record their findings on a graph. We had a wonderful time exposing these students to the local forests in their community.

We would like to thank all of the parent chaperones and Mrs. Anderson for inviting us into her classroom for the week. We can’t wait to hear about how the Sugar Pine saplings grow!

This subsidized program and others like this can only be made possible with help from our generous community partners. We would like to thank the Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation and Martis Camp Community Foundation for their support. The funding they provide allows us to continue giving more local youth an outdoor education experience.

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