High School Students




Urban School

This ecology course took day trips to the Marin Headlands National Park to study riparian habitat in the Gerbode Valley.

How does salinity of a stream affect biodiversity of adjacent vegetation?

The effect of channel incision on vegetation composition of the riparian corridor

Macro-invertebrate biodiversity and abundance in Rodeo Lagoon

The effect of soil type on plant diversity in riparian zones

College Prep School A.P.E.S.

These juniors and senior spent 2 days at the Clair Tappaan Lodge on Donner Summit studying factors that affect biodiversity in wetlands and forested areas.

The effect of TDS on Biodiversity

How does forest composition change between different habitats

Water quality in relation to a removed dam

The distribution of parasitism in subalpine forests

Woodside Priory Service Week Trips

A group of Priory seniors traveled to Donner Summit to study the Sierra Nevada snowpack. Groups of students created projects around factors that affect avalanches and snow melt water quality.

Impacts of Pine Trees on Snow pH

Tracking Total Dissolved Solids in Snow

Snow Melt Water Quality

Snow Density and Avalanche Danger

A second group of Juniors conducted their own set of experiments in the Santa Cruz mountains around Redwood forest science.

Tree Size and Microhabitats

Water Flow and Invertebrate Populations


San Francisco University High School

This AP Environmental Science Class visited Donner summit in late September to conduct experiments on biodiversity in Van Norden Meadow.

Water Quality and Biodiversity in Van Norden

Vegetation of Van Norden Meadow

Met Sacramento High School

This group visited snowy Donner Summit in the end of March to conduct experiments around the Sierra Snowpack and how patterns in snow melt affect water availability in California.

How does water pH change at different elevations and comparing pH in similar sites between 2017 and 2016

Using dye to track the movement of water in the snowpack

The relationship between altitude and snow composition

Using water bottles to study thermal gradients in the snowpack

Comparing the pH and TDS of snow and water in similar locations


San Francisco University High School

In late September, this A.P. Environmental Studies conducted research projects around the recently drain Van Norden Lake and the surrounding ecosystem. Their projects included questions related to water and soil nutrients, amphibians, aquatic insects, and the affect human impact can have on aquatic ecosystems.

Soil nutrients in Van Norden Lakebed and the surrounding meadow

How does vegetation change with elevation?

The affect of pool depth on nutrient concentrations

The impact of a recent forest fire on soil chemistry

How do abiotic factors affect Macroinvertabrate populations?

The affect of human impact on water chemistry in nearby lakes

How does water quality affect toad populations?

Wooster High School

In August students from the Earl Wooster High School I.B. Biology class conducted research projects on water quality in a section of the Truckee River near their school.

How does water speed affect dissolved oxygen?

Human Impact on the Truckee River ecosystem

Density of worms and insects near the Truckee River

How does water chemistry affect macroinvertabrate populations?

The relationship between proximity to water and soil health

Does water quality vary across the stream channel?


Met Sacramento High School

In early June 21 students from the Met Sacramento High School joined us for a three day program. The students were focused on environmental chemistry and specifically, pH. They spilt into 4 groups that studied human impact on the pH of natural water ways, the effects of forest ash on water pH, and how soil chemistry and pH effects the trees that can grow.

Human Impact on pH & O2 Levels of Water

Water pH and Human Impacts

Trees and Soil Chemistry

Killer Forest Fires and How They’re Affecting Your Water

Green Fields School

In March 11 students from the Green Fields school in Tuscan joined us for 5 days. The students were focused on snow science projects. They split into three groups to study pollutants, snowfall, snow settling, and snow density.

Super Snow

Snow Pollution

Pollutants and Snow Density


Quarry Lane

We had a group of Quarry Lane High School Students who did a great job on a project on soil and growing conditions using Lodgepole Pine trees. They made a fun presentation that is public on Prezi. Check out this link.

Quarry Lane photo movie

Quarry Lane slide show


Take a look at these project presentations from the AP Environmental Science students at San Francisco University High, during a three day program this fall with HSI:

SFUHS 2015 slideshow

IMG_1335Insects and Toad Presentation

Optimal Living Conditions for Trout Presentation

Soil Sample Presentation

Types of Insects and Toads

Water Quality Study

Truckee High School

Truckee High School‘s River Ecology Class stepped up their biology survey techniques by investigating soil quality, wetland organisms, birds, and water quality above and below Norden Dam in Soda Springs.  After a day in the field they used class time to analyze their data and make these great presentations:


What Soil Can Tell Us

Wetland Data Presentation

Birds of Norden Meadow

Human Impact on Norden



Ash Fallout Presentation

pH of soil ash

How Ash affects the ph of water

Changes in soil pH from the king fire ash

Middle School Students

Student Driven Research isn’t just for older high schoolers!

North Lake Tahoe Middle School

In June of 2016 Headwaters did a 3 day program with 6th graders from North Lake Tahoe Middle School. Their program was very short because they had to fit their entire projects into three days with only two 45 minute class periods each day. They did a great job in a short amount of time. The students did poster presentations instead of Power Point presentations. They also made a great video about their projects. Check it out here.

Quarry Lane

Check out these great presentations by middle school students from the Quarry Lane School. They did a 5 day program that allowed the students to work hard and produce great results. The students had a wide array of topics and all were able to learn some new statistics while they were analyzing their data.

A Bug’s Life

Dwarf Mistletoe spread

Fish and Algae in Van Norden

Insects Eyesight

Lichen Presentation

Parasitic Mistletoe in Fir Trees


Squaw Valley Prep

Check out these projects the 2014 Squaw Valley Prep 7th & 8th graders produced in three days:

The first project was on Toad Habitat. The students wanted to understand how the drought was potentially affecting toad habitat in Van Norden Meadow. Check out their powerpoint:

Toad Habitat Presentation

Another group studied water percolation in the meadow.  They compared the different layers of meadow soils to see how percolation rates differed for different soil types.

Norden Meadow Soil Percolation Study

The last group managed to pull off two projects in just three days! They compared the stickiness of sap among local tree species and tried to figure out what that meant for tree protection; their second project compared both toad size and the number of macro-invertebrates in the meadow between the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Sap Presentation

Insect and Toad Presentation

Remember, these student-created presentations were the culmination of three days worth of making observations, asking questions, and collecting and analyzing data. Not bad for middle schoolers!

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