The Science of Winter: Afterschool Enrichment in Driggs

The first ever after-school enrichment program run by Teton Science Schools (TSS) at Rendezvous Upper Elementary School (RUES) in Driggs finished up last Thursday, marking a successful completion to the six week course. Run by Teton Valley Community School staff as part of Teton Science Schools Idaho Initiative, this program introduced Teton Valley 4th and 5th graders to the winter landscape through observations, scientific inquiry, artistic explorations, and outdoor play. Using a place-based approach, this course introduced students to scientific inquiry and exposed participants to the natural processes occurring around us all the time.

Through games, activities, and mini-lessons, students learned about: seasons and earth rotation, meteorology and cloud identification, snow crystal morphology, winter animal tracking and adaptations. They learned how to use the science circle as a method of answering questions about the natural world. The program also focused on building character through teamwork on group projects, leadership skills, communication and listening.

The overarching goal was to instill a sense of scientific curiosity in the participants and teach some basic skills on how to explore these interests. More than 20 students from Teton Valley attended the program over the course of the six weeks. Whether understanding the meaning of the word ‘camouflage’, getting a chance to learn more about their favorite animal, or identifying a snow-cloud, each student came away with a greater understanding of their natural environment. At the end of the course, nearly every student reported that they would like to attend another TSS-run, afterschool enrichment program.

Funded through the Teton Valley Education Foundation, the success of this program is due to the collaborative efforts of the Foundation, Teton School District 401, and Teton Science Schools. The Foundation’s aim, by funding afterschool enrichment programs like this one, is to “engage children after school to…keep children in a safe and active learning environment.” Through the Science of Winter program, Teton Science Schools was able to reach a new group of Teton Valley students, introducing them to the power and excitement of place-based, experiential education.

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