Blog Post

Primary EE Program

November 15, 2022

Fall Primary Environmental Education

Our EE program is in full swing for the year and classes have been venturing far and wide!

Along with fun outdoor adventures, Logan’s Environmental Education (EE) program is built to develop the skills of scientific inquiry, build classroom community, and foster an awareness of the environment. EE field experiences are tied to each class’s unit. 

Below are just a few highlights from the Primary classes’ field experiences, led by Ali Brown, the Primary EE teacher. Primary classes spend a few days in the EE lab before and after heading out into the field. 

Kim & Debbie’s Class Unit: “On the Nature Trail” 

This class had their first EE trip to Bluff Lake Nature Center for a sensory discovery program. They found cattails (Typha Latifolia) and dissected the plant and its seeds. They saw lots of prairie dogs, learned about the physiology of animal hearing, and went for a one-mile hike to explore the ecosystems around Bluff Lake. Back at Logan, students learned about the differences between deciduous and evergreen trees and why the leaves change color in the fall. They then explored the front lawn for a scavenger hunt to find all the different colors and types of leaves that fell off the trees at Logan. 

A kindergarten student wearing a purple baseball hat holds up a drawing in her field journal.

Carla & Heidi M’s Class Unit: “Homes and Habitats”

Carla and Heidi’s class set out for Star K Ranch where they spotted a bald eagle while they made observations and journaled about animal habitats on their walking loop. On this trip, they learned the 4 things every habitat needs: food, water, shelter, and space. Back at the berm/wetlands just behind Logan to the west, they learned some things that beavers, frogs, and muskrats need in their habitats and used natural items they found to build habitats for each creature. In their journal, students were asked to reflect on their own habitats and drew pictures of their homes where they labeled where they could find the food, water, shelter, and space that make up their habitat. 

A kindergarten boy examines the bark of a tree up close.s

Heidi and Ivey’s Class Unit:  “Colorado Mammals”

On their trip to Bluff Lake Nature Center, students were led through the nature center’s program focusing on prairie dog ecology. On their walkabout, the students observed a few different prairie dog colonies and took data that they then used to analyze which colony was healthier. Back in the EE lab, Heidi and Ivey’s class has been learning about animal diets, food chains, and food webs. Using specimens from the Patti McKinnell Collection, students looked at different animal skulls and journaled about what you can learn about an animal’s life from its skull. They focused on the animals’ eyes and teeth to determine whether an animal is a predator or a prey and what kind of food it eats. 

Students take data on prairie dog colonies at Bluff Lake.

Kelly & Will’s Class Unit: “Weather” 

This class had the exciting opportunity to visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. During their visit, there happened to be a convention going on (Friends and Partners in Aviation Weather) with scientists from around the world in attendance. Students got to peek in on the convention while they worked with Tim Barnes, Science Education Specialist. At the center, students explored the Weather Discovery Trails behind the lab and used infrared thermometers to test how heat from the sun affects objects differently based on their composition. Students visited different exhibits in the visitor center focused on weather and climate and journaled about what they noticed and wondered about. In the EE lab, students made barometers and learned how to read a synoptic (surface) weather map to predict future weather events. 

Students watch as a tornado event is simulated in an exhibit at the NCAR Visitor center.

Richard and Khali’s Unit: “Sound”

Richard and Khali’s class has been making discoveries about sound in nature. On a recent trip to Barr Lake State Park, students compared how humans, birds, and insects make sounds differently. The class made instruments to represent how each animal vocalizes. A kazoo was used to represent how humans vocalize using their larynx, and students made panpipes to represent how birds can make many different sounds at once using a special organ called a syrinx. Students learned about three ways that insects can make sound: through stridulation (rubbing body parts together) like crickets, through specialized organs like the tymbals of cicadas, and through buzzing wings vibrating the surrounding air like honey bees.  Most recently, the class has been learning about acoustics and how bats use the physics of sound waves to locate their prey using echolocation.

When asked what she loves most about her Primary EE job, Ali said:

“My favorite thing about my job is having the privilege of introducing students to all the wonder and magic that nature holds, and watching the joy and excitement on their faces as they explore and uncover the secrets of the ecosystems in their own backyard. I think EE is special because, while students get to learn about topics they are familiar with and passionate about through their individual units, they get to discover new interests and curiosities that they might not have explored on their own. Seeing a primary student's face light up when they discover a wooly bear caterpillar inching along the trail, or catch a glimpse of a prairie dog for the very first time reminds me of why I love the outdoors, and why I love sharing my passion for the natural world with our rambunctious, inquisitive, and thoughtful students.”