Aspen Elementary School (AES)

Beginning in 1992, ACES created a ground-breaking environmental science program at AES that has served as a model for other non-profit and school partnerships. All 540 Kindergarten through 4th grade AES student attend a weekly lesson in the ACES Environmental Science straw bale building as a part of their rotation of classes called specials. ACES’ supplies the educators to teach the place-based curriculum that helps students meet science and other curricular standards through hands-on exploration of the natural world, and helps the student receive the very best education possible. In addition to the in-school lessons, each class goes on three field science programs at ACES sites. Kindergarten, first, and second grade students also have an evening family program at ACES’ Hallam Lake. Aspen School District (ASD) preschool, middle, and high school students also participate in ACES' outdoor environmental science programs.

Prior to ACES being a daily part of the daily curriculum, when Aspen School District was still housed in the red brick, teachers walked their students down to ACES’ and were greeted by the first ACES directors, Jody and Tom Cardamone. This partnership began in 1975, and as ACES’ and ASD expanded over the decades, so has ACES’ School Programs. Over 3,000 individual students in ASD over the years have benefited from this environmental education partnership

Aspen School District Superintendent, John Maloy has this to say about the program,
“The Aspen School District’s long-standing relationship with ACES has allowed students to have experiences that foster the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be environmentally literate. ACES's programs provide students with the opportunity to analyze environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to sustain and improve the environment. As a result, Aspen students are more capable of weighing various sides of an issue to make informed and responsible decisions.”

Primary themes of study by grade level:

Grade Level

In-School ThemesField Trips and Evening Programs
KindergartenLocal Aspen WildlifeFamily Beaver Night,
Farm Animals, Animals in Fall, Animals in Winter, Animals in Spring and sleepover at Hallam Lake
1st GradeTrees, Owls, Predator and Prey, Gardens and SoilTree Study, Family Owl Night, Winter Predators and Prey, Signs of Spring
2nd GradeAdaptations, Camouflage, HabitatsHabitat Exploration, Family Creepy Crawly Night, Winter Animal Adaptations on Aspen Mountain, Animal Groups and sleepover at Rock Bottom Ranch
3rd GradeEcosystem Members, Geology, Winter Tracking, Water Cycle/Wetlands, Water CycleMaroon Creek Exploration, Winter Tracking, Wetlands
4th GradeWater Study, Energy, Solar System, Life ZonesRoaring Fork River Study
Middle School Geology at the Maroon Bells, Renewable Energy Competition, Restoration Work, Botany Study, Snow Science, Life Zones, ACES teachers as trip leaders for ASD Outdoor Education Trips
High School Snow Science and Winter Travel, Restoration Work, ACES teachers as trip leaders for ASD Experiential Education Trips

The ACES at Aspen Elementary School Program is supported by ACES’ Children’s Education Fund and Aspen School District.