Field Notes from Truckee

Field Notes from Truckee

This year, we received $5,000 from the Truckee Tahoe Airport District that we put towards a six-week after-school program with the Truckee Elementary School. This was a twice-weekly program that focused on grades 3rd through 5th. The program had a bird theme where students were introduced to new bird-related knowledge, games, and science activities each session. Each session was independent so that students could join without feeling left behind while those who attended multiple sessions could continue to ask questions about birds and expand their knowledge.

Students explored bird adaptations, migration patterns, behaviors, anatomy, and more. One activity we did every day was monitoring bird feeders to see what species were in the area and observing how that changed throughout the semester as our own citizen science project! However, our most popular activity was our owl pellet examination, where the students could see what the owls were consuming and reconstruct their skeletons.

Through completing science activities focused on birds and the local environment, students were able to connect to the ecosystem that they live in and make connections that they likely would not have without this program. Observed student outcomes included excitement about science and the use of critical thinking skills. The program was well-received by the students, as we saw almost all 25 students return for multiple weeks! 

Field Notes from East Bay Area Programs

Field Notes from East Bay Area Programs

This school year, Headwaters was thrilled to partner with East Bay Area schools for a number of school programs, field days, and even a program at the Claire Tappaan Lodge thanks to grant funding from the Lesher Foundation, Sandia National Labs, and the Joseph and Mercedes McMicking Foundation.

As we strive to expand access to hands-on science programming and foster curiosity through science, grant funding is extremely important to help us keep programming at low or no costs to schools and students!

Lighthouse Charter

We had a fantastic time working with 11th and 12th-grade students from Lighthouse Community Charter School! Thirty-five students arrived at Clair Tappaan Lodge to a dusting of snow on the group, an exciting sight for many students who had never seen snow before! Right away, they got to work coming up with research questions inspired by the forest around the lodge. Groups were interested in insect biodiversity, water quality, tree size and age, and the effects of snow on the ecosystem.

One student reflected on their outdoor experience: “I had a wonderful time! It was beautiful because of all the nature. I had a lot of bonding time with people and learned a lot about trees. This was one of my best experiences and I just loved it.”

Projects focused on the forest environment around Clair Tappaan Lodge. Students collected data ranging from plant and insect biodiversity, tree age and size, water quality in a seasonal stream, and much more. We even found some unexpected animals, including a salamander!

At the end of our program, students were able to explore their data even more through Google Sheets. Students created data visualizations and performed statistical tests to determine if their results were statistically significant. Students compiled their results, explored their creativity in putting together a presentation, and presented their findings to their classmates.

LPS Oakland

On Thursday, February 15, Headwaters hosted LPS Oakland for a field day at Redwood Regional Park. The students had the opportunity to collect data on different research questions, such as plant species diversity, the water temperature of the creek, and the correlation between the size of a log on the ground and the number of animals underneath it. For most of the students, it was their first time at the park, so we also spent some time exploring and enjoying the outdoors. After the field day, many expressed their desire to return to the area and explore more!

We were impressed by the hard work the students exhibited while planning out their projects and working through the scientific process. They were challenged to design a testable research question and develop a scientific method for collecting data. They applied what they learned in the classroom to the field to collect data at Redwood Regional Park in East Bay Despite the steep terrain students remained positive and collected high-quality data. Projects focused mainly on human impacts and water quality of the lake; students collected data ranging from plant diversity to pH and dissolved oxygen measurements.

Upon returning to the classroom, students were able to dive deeper into their data. Students created data visualizations and worked to determine if they saw any correlations with the variables they tested.

LPS Richmond

Headwaters staff took a group of students from the Richmond area to the Miller Knox Regional Shoreline. The students were split into multiple groups and divided between Headwaters staff to collect data. Half of the groups spent the morning collecting samples from the lagoon to study the impact different water quality tests have on aquatic biodiversity. The other half spent the morning participating in citizen science and collected hundreds of images of local organisms. We uploaded observations to the citizen science database iNaturalist to be used by anyone. After a nice lunch break, the groups switched so everyone could participate in both activities! The day ended with a rock-skipping competition and a walk back to school!

We were so excited to be able to host this group and help get them engaged with hands-on science experiments in their local area.

Making Waves

Before we met at the field site, students worked in groups to come up with testable questions that they could collect data on. The questions the students developed were thoughtful and engaging and included how the biodiversity of plants may be different closer to and further from redwood trees or the number of flower species that live closer to the hiking trail.

Our field day, thankfully, turned out gorgeous and proved perfect for data collection. Students learned to use quadrats, d-nets, and how to measure the height of a tree, even when it was over a hundred feet tall.

Upon returning to the classroom, students were able to explore their data even more and used google sheets to graph their data. Students will use all their knowledge gained and data as part of their final class project in which they will develop a field guide. We look forward to seeing their final products!

Field Notes from Bay Area Afterschool Programs

Field Notes from Bay Area Afterschool Programs

This spring, Headwaters has been excited to partner with Richmond schools to provide an afterschool program for students at three different schools! We are serving around 150 students each week in after school programs, with students ranging in grade level from TK-6 grade.

This semester we are focused on all things birds and a special emphasis is put on Bay Area Birds. Students are learning about the adaptations some birds have and why, their life cycle, and habitats. They put up bird feeders and are asking questions about what we could change about the feeders that may change the number or type of birds we see.

One particular student who is more shy about speaking up has requested to put up a trap camera to see what is coming around when we aren’t there and she is excited to start that process this week.

Allowing students to set the parameters and rules in this way gives them ownership over their questions and their experience with science. Students rarely get to choose what they do, but we offer them those choices when we can to show them, they can be scientists!

Students have enjoyed learning about and identifying their local birds. At one school, they are thrilled to see the main culprit that is eating their birdseed is wild turkeys!

This program provides students with more access to ecological science than what they may get in the classroom. We are encouraging them to be inquisitive and curious about the immediate world around them. Students are learning that sometimes our questions and hypotheses are unanswerable but that the process is important.

Katie Cannon

Katie Cannon

Bay Area Program Manager

Spots still open for Headwaters’ 2022 summer camps and programs

Spots still open for Headwaters’ 2022 summer camps and programs

Your one-stop shop for your student’s summer plans are right here. Registration for Headwaters Science Institute’s summer camps and programs are open, and spots are still available. But they are filling up fast, so act now. Below you can find all of our offerings for Summer 2022.

Truckee Young Scientist Exploration Camp

Give your child the opportunity to explore nature this summer. This hands-on science camp is designed for children to have fun while exploring the unique ecology of the area.

Campers will explore the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s new Truckee Springs park in Downtown Truckee. From this site, hiking, splashing in the river, and other fun activities are all easily accessible. Science is fun and engaging when children get to ask the questions that they are curious about. This program will show your child that science is all around them, while forging a unique connection to the flora and fauna of the Sierra Nevada region.

Overview

Ages: 5-12

Dates:
Session 1 – July 5-8
Session 2 – Aug. 8-12

Times: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily

Location: Truckee Donner Land Trust’s “Truckee Springs” parcel (drop off at the end of South River Street)

Price:

Session 1 – $315 (includes Headwaters T-shirt), CIT $150
Session 2 – $385 (includes Headwaters T-shirt), CIT $175

For more details or sign up, visit the camp page here.

 

Kirkwood Scientist Exploration Camp

Over the week, Headwaters instructors will guide participants through exploring the natural systems around them and developing curiosity about the natural world.

Campers will explore the native diversity in the Kirkwood area. We will take hikes and investigate the local ecosystem. We’ll ask questions about what we’re seeing, collect data, and find answers. There will be time for games, scavenger hunts, play, and time to cool off.

Overview

General registration: Ages 5-13
Counselor-in-training program: Ages 13-15

Dates:

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday

Session 1 – Water Week, June 27- July 1
Session 2 – Plants and Wildflowers, July 5- 8 (Tuesday-Friday)
Session 3 – Rocks and Geology July, 11-15
Session 4 – Animals, July 25-29
Session 5 – Insects, Aug. 1-5

Price: $450/session (includes Headwaters T-shirt) ($375 for Session 2); $225 for CIT Program (Ages 13-15)

For more information or to sign up, visit the camp page here.

 

Serene Lakes Young Scientist Exploration Camp

Give your child the opportunity to explore Serene Lakes this summer. This hands-on science camp is designed for children of Serene Lakes families to explore the unique ecology of the area.

Day campers will explore the natural spaces around Serene Lakes, ask scientific questions, and design and conduct experiments to answer their own questions. Science is fun and engaging when children get to ask the questions that they are curious about. This program will show your child science is fun and all around them while forging a unique connection to the Serene Lakes area.

Overview

General registration: Ages 5-12
Counselor-in-training program:
Ages 13-15

Dates:

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday

Session 1 – July 18-21
Session 2 – July 25-28
Session 3 – Aug. 1-4

Price: $275 per Session, CIT $140

For more information or to sign up, visit the camp page here.

 

Girls Science Program

We will have a week of GIRLS ONLY science and camping at the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s Webber Lake Campground. In addition, girls can sign up for the Headwaters’ Summer Research Experience, for a full summer of science.

Foundations of the program:

1. Scientific  Research

Students work with an all female cohort of peers at Webber Lake and with professional female scientist mentors to create questions around their environmental topics of interest and develop these questions into a research project.

2. Mentorship

The students will be mentored by female scientists for guidance through their project. These career-scientists can help with recommendations for how to turn an idea into an executable project.

3. Female Empowerment

A female-specific cohort provides support for participants to explore the science field in ways that are unique.

4. Professional caliber scientific exploration 

Participants are given the chance to practice science just like a professional would, analyzing data and finally creating a research talk. If they would like to create a paper they should also join our Summer Research Experience and at the end, they submit their paper for publication. They can get all of their data collected for the summer-long program during this week at Webber Lake.

Overview

Camping: Participants will camp at our Webber Lake study site from July 10-15. Parents will drop off campers on Sunday, July 10th after dinner and pick up on Friday, July 15 by noon.

Location: The campground is located at Webber Lake in Truckee, California at the Truckee Donner Land Trust campground.

Price: $800

For more information or to sign up, visit the program page here.

 

Environmental Science Research Camp

An environmental science camp at the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s Webber Lake Campground for students going into 7th grade and older.

Foundations of the program:

1. Scientific Research

Students work with a cohort of peers at Webber Lake and with professional scientist mentors to create questions around their environmental topics of interest and develop these questions into a research project.

2. Mentorship

The students will be mentored by scientists for guidance through their project. These career-scientists can help with recommendations for how to turn an idea into an executable project.

3. Professional caliber scientific exploration

Participants are given the chance to practice science just like a professional would, analyzing data and finally creating a research talk. If they would like to create a paper they should also join our Summer Research Experience and at the end, they submit their paper for publication. They can get all of their data collected for the summer-long program during this week at Webber Lake.

Overview

Camping: Participants will camp at our Webber Lake study site from July 10-15. Parents will drop off campers on Sunday, July 10th after dinner and pick up on Friday, July 15 by noon.

Location: The campground is located at Webber Lake in Truckee, California at the Truckee Donner Land Trust campground.

Price: $800

For more information or to sign up, visit the program page here.

Research Experience

In the program, students will design and create an original research project mentored by a professional scientist, see through the project by conducting field research, (or compiling pre-existing available datasets), and learn how to analyze their findings. Students complete the program with a finalized research presentation and a formal research paper that will be submitted for publication.

Mentors:
Our professional scientist mentors are experienced in research and in mentoring students with a variety of research interests. They guide students to utilize a diverse array of research skills that can be used to study almost any topic imaginable.

Benefits:
Students emerge from the program with an experience they can add to a college resume, and life skills that will better prepare them for any career.

Overview

Location: Online meetings, independent research in the location of student’s choosing

Summer 2022 Program dates: Week of June 14 through the week of August 9th

Session Times: (students can select one of these based on their availability)

Tuesday – 2-3 p.m. PST

Tuesday – 5-6 p.m. PST

Cost: $1,350

Registration Process: Fill out either the financial assistance application (if you need financial help) or register directly. Registration opens February 1, 2022.
Regular registration until the program is filled. Financial assistance applications are open through March 1, 2022. Students will be notified by April 1, 2022.

For more information or sign up, visit the program page here.

 

Fill The Winter Break With This Fun – And Free – Scientific Challenge

Fill The Winter Break With This Fun – And Free – Scientific Challenge

Ever wonder about the birds that call your backyard home? Looking for an activity that’s fun, free and easy to fill some downtime over the winter break?

Headwaters Science Institute has you covered with our new Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge! Over the last week of the year, from Dec. 27-31, we’ve created a challenge to keep students outside and engaged scientifically over winter break. This challenge will guide students through the scientific research process, all while using data gathered in their own backyard.

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water

To take part in our Winter Backyard Bird Challenge, you will need to have a bird feeder nearby where students can observe avian visitors. We recommend having your bird feeder set up at least five days before the start of the challenge, so that birds have time to locate the feeder and get used to its presence.

Over the course of the challenge, students will record what birds they observe at their feeder. Students can then submit their data to Headwaters, and will use the data they and their peers collect to answer the research question they developed at the beginning of the challenge. Click here to register for the challenge. 

To get a head start on our Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge, please review our Bird Feeder video to learn more about why it’s important to study birds and instructions on how to make a DIY bird feeder. Then, review our Pre-lesson Activity for a short reading assignment that will help your student get ready for our challenge. 

This post will serve as the home for this challenge, and we will post updates and links in this space to guide students throughout the process. The schedule of events for the Winter Backyard Bird Challenge is as follows:

Day 1: Monday, December 27 

Learn how to ask scientific questions and design your research project. Click here for your guide.

 

Day 2: Tuesday, December 28 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST 

Community Interaction & Data Collection. Watch the replay here

 

Day 3 Wednesday, December 29: 

“Lunch with a Scientist” with Mark Stanback: Biology Professor at Davidson University. View the talk here. Find the activity worksheet here

 

Day 4 Thursday, December 30: 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST: Mark Stanback Q and A 

 

Day 5 Friday, December 31: 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST: Bird feeder results and drawing conclusions. 

 

We are so excited for your student to be joining us on this research adventure. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information about the Headwaters Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge. Happy bird watching!

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water