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Snowshoeing Well Into Spring!

Posted in Kids' Corner

A snowshoe program up Castle Creek Valley in April often brings out a “spring fever” kind of energy in both students and ACES Educators alike! Who wouldn’t be excited? ACES Educators get to share their snow science expertise with a group of 6th graders who get to “ramble out yonder” and explore the hidden treasures of the upper Castle Creek Valley, including the Ashcroft Ghost Town!

A recent ACES Ed program for Basalt Middle School’s entire 6th grade included hands on studies of snow science and winter adaptations. Engaging curriculum complemented students’ in-school study of Colorado state science standards in Earth, physical, and life sciences including studies of state-changes in water, environmental and climate change and its effect on living systems, and watershed knowledge and literacy. 

For ACES Educators, a lot goes into preparing for a program of this magnitude. The logistics of gathering snowshoes, field scopes, shovels, measuring sticks, and other supplies for 40-50 students and adults per day is a feat in and of itself!  It helps that the program home base at ACES’ Catto Center at Toklat is remarkable. The view is one of a kind with mountains making their mark on the skyline. 

Large snowfields on site were big enough for our snow study experiments, but sadly were not large enough to dig snow pits or build quinzees. Although students were thrilled to use snowshoes in the afternoon as the sun warmed the snow into slushy post-hole traps!

Instead of building snow pits and large quinzees, we constructed lean-to shelters, small snow caves, and reenacted how wild animals survive the harsh winter.  Students also explored stream velocity through racing snowballs along Castle Creek, studied winter adaptations by competing in the “Squirrel Olympics,” and explored the history of Ashcroft by walking the ghost town’s buildings and trails.  As with all ACES programs, the education experience was a lot of fun!

In the classroom and on field programs, ACES Educators always adapt to address a wide range of conditions and student groups.  Much like an ever-changing snowpack, lesson plans must be adaptable to keep up with the innate curiosity of our young people’s minds. Needless to say, our field program was a top notch experience with students learning in one of the best classrooms available, the outside world!

~ Chase Moore, ACES Educator