Do you want to experience science outside of a lab? Do you want to learn about the environment? The Headwaters Science Summit is the perfect way to explore science and the environment. This program is designed to give you a hands-on college level environmental science experience. Spend a long weekend with motivated peers doing scientific research on Donner Summit.

June 7th -9th 2019



  • Work with motivated students to design, conduct, and share your own original environmental science research.
  • Get to know real scientists. Throughout the program you will be mentored by scientists from several different fields of study, many of whom hold or are currently completing a PhD in their respective fields.
  • Each evening, guest scientists will talk about their research and their path through the sciences.
  • You will finish with a polished scientific presentation about your research. These projects can be extended into science fairs, scientific conferences, or submitted to scientific journals such as Journal of Emerging Investigators.

Campers learning about macroinvertebrates during the Headwaters Summer Science Camp.

What to expect: The Donner Summit field site offers opportunities to study sub-alpine wetlands, old growth forests, and the unique water chemistry that comes with being located at the top of a watershed.

About the program

  • This is an academically challenging program. Throughout the program instructors will be there to support your research, offer mentorship, and further your conceptual understanding of scientific topics.
  • The program is based out of the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Summit.
  • Participants will spend most days outside in the forests and meadows around the lodge investigating the area and conducting research.
  • True to the creative process, the academically challenging components of this program will be contrasted with time spent in nature. Explore the vast Tahoe National Forest by day and see millions of stars through the thin mountain air by night.

Donner Pass Science Summit Digital Flyer

Apply Today

Complete the application below. Applications will be accepted until April 20th. Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis and notified of their application status no later than April 27th. The application is non-binding. Once accepted, applicants have until May 5th, or when registration sells out, to register for the camp. The camp is limited to 20 students. This camp is geared for incoming Sophomores – Seniors in high school.

Cost: $550


Friday. Check in 9-10:00 am. After a brief orientation, we will head into the nearby meadow to introduce students to the field site. After lunch, students will design original research questions and collect preliminary data. There is a break from the academic program between 4 and 6. Following dinner, we will hold a short evening event including Q&A with a local scientist, where students can refine their research projects. 

Saturday. Students are given a hot breakfast and a bag lunch before spending most of the day outside collecting data for their research projects. Lunch will be outside weather permitting. Students will return to the lodge in the early afternoon to analyze their data and start to build presentations of their findings. The evening program is a peer review of each others’ research and a relaxing campfire with s’mores.

Comparing notes during data collection at science camp.

Sunday. Groups have Sunday morning to wrap up their research presentations and spend some more free time in the field sites. The trip will finish with research groups presenting their findings back to their fellow campers. Parents are invited to come watch these presentations at 2:30 pm on Sunday with camp wrapping up immediately after by 3:30pm.

Meals. Full meals will be provided starting with dinner Friday through lunch Sunday. Please pack your own lunch for Friday. The lodge is able to accommodate most dietary restrictions.

Meet your instructors:

  • Meg Seifert. Headwaters Executive Director. PhD Zoology- Washington State University. Research focus: Stress hormones in barn owls.
  • Ashley Pierce PhD – University Nevada Reno. Research focus: Environmental Science
  • Spencer Eusden. Headwaters Program Director. Bowdoin College-Undergraduate research focus: Plant Physiology.