"What a fun way to learn," exclaimed Minden Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Pam Ertel.
She said she was thrilled to be able to bring her class to winter camp last week as part of Great Basin Outdoor School.
"I've discovered things about my students that will help me teach them the rest of the year," Ertel said.
Students spent three days learning winter safety and science and two nights in heated cabins on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Snowshoeing was a new experience for most of them, and some saw Lake Tahoe for the first time.
Dr. James Church, who invented the Mt. Rose snow sampler to measure snow's water content, was brought to life by Steve Hale, retired forester. Hale hiked with the children on snowshoes and explained the history of the instrument developed locally and used around the world.
Children learned winter adaptations, the reason for the seasons, and winter constellations. They built planets to learn their relative sizes and hexagonal snow crystals to understand their structure.
MES Principal Ken Stoll accompanied the group.
"It's a good opportunity for students to experience and learn about the winter environment and its effects throughout the year," he said. "The hands-on approach will have a lasting impact and produce a greater appreciation for the world around them."
Great Basin Outdoor School is a nonprofit which has been offering field studies on the shore of Lake Tahoe for more than 12 years. Astronomy, geology, forestry, hydrology, and wildlife ecology come alive for students with hands-on lessons.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others provide support to keep student fees below actual cost and to promote protection of Tahoe's water quality and reduction of fire danger in the Tahoe Basin.
For more information, visit greatbasin-os.org.