That’s a Wrap on Spring Semester School Programs!
- June 20, 2024 -

That’s a wrap on the spring semester! As thoughts turn to summer exploration, summer camps, fun events, and vacations, we want to take a moment to recap some of the local Tahoe Truckee school programs we did this school year.

With a huge thank you to our local community with grants from Powdr Corp Community Foundation, Martis Camp, Donner Party Charitable Fund, Tahoe Mt. Resorts, Truckee Airport Foundation, Truckee Rotary, North Tahoe Kiwanis, and Tahoe League for Charity. Thank you for all your support.

Alder Creek Middle School

Late this spring, we worked with ACMS 7th graders to create research projects focused around human impacts in Donner Memorial State Park! We began the week by joining students in class to talk about question asking and planning to collect data. Students were interested in the various ways that humans may impact the park, ranging from investigating water quality, to looking at trash and litter, to measuring plant and insect biodiversity. In order to test these questions, students collected data at the park during the middle of the week. Each group was able to collect data at various locations across the park, while also observing wildlife like frogs and lizards outside of their projects!

Thanks to the support of Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation, Martis Camp, and the hospitality of Donner Memorial State Park, this adventure was a wild success!


Truckee High School

Thanks to the incredible support of the Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation and the Martis Camp Foundation, we ran an amazing field program with Truckee High School for over 40 students! From formulating questions in the classroom to hands-on fieldwork at Donner Creek, students explored macroinvertebrate populations, measured stream pH and temperatures, and even discovered unexpected surprises like fish and a large crawfish! Back in class, they analyzed their data and delivered insightful presentations. A huge thank you to our sponsors for making this enriching experience possible!

Student questions were mostly centered around organisms within the stream, including fish, crayfish, and macroinvertebrate insects. Some groups were also interested in plants around the stream, and looked at biodiversity found in the area, as well as chemical composition of leaves.

Truckee Afterschool

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.

Sierra Expeditionary Learning School

Projects focused on snow science, and how chemical and physical properties of snow are affected by location, depth of the snow pack, and presence of insects. Each groups’ question was inspired by a tour at the Central Sierra Snow Lab, where students got to learn about the large-scale climate and snow monitoring happening at the lab, before conducting their own smaller scale research.

Students were able to work in the area around the lab, collecting data, and also having fun playing in the snow and playing some group games.

La Fuerza Latina Truckee

Thanks to funding from Truckee Rotary, a group of La Fuerza Latina Truckee students from Truckee High School came with us to tour the Central Sierra Snow Lab and to start data collection. The students had really insightful ideas on what their data meant, and why they saw the trends they did, and it was great to see the students engage in that discussion around data visualization.

Donner Trail Yuba River Day

It was a great, warm, sunny October Day on the South Yuba River. Headwaters spent the day in the river teaching the kids about water speed and gradient in the river, as well as algae growth and water quality. The students loved using the ducks and meter sticks to measure the flow. They learned how increased gradient means increased water speed. They also learned how where in the river you are measuring changes the water speed. For example when the bank or logs/sticks jet out into the river they block the water and decrease the speed that is flows. Truckee Tahoe School district media was there and are interested in doing more stories with us.

King’s Beach Elementary

During this program, we developed hyper-local, sustainable food programming to engage with over 60 fifth-grade students, including varied paths to science, the importance of a sustainable diet, and creating a healthy meal from the local 7-Eleven.  

Over three sessions, students learned about Headwaters’ program manager Courtney’s background, her master’s thesis, and how to make a healthy meal based on what you can find at the local 7-Eleven. 

Students learned about the components of a healthy diet including understanding the role of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. During this discussion, students were able to cook themselves from boiling water, create salads, or pass out cut fruit. The students were surprised to see how much fruit and vegetables were available at the local 7-Eleven and how they could make healthy choices for their diets, no matter their access.