Day by Day Learning and Exploration
On Monday afternoon students will go on a discovery hike with their Cabin Naturalist. This is their first hike in the forest and it is a very exciting time. The purpose of the discovery hike is to provide the students with an introduction to the Jones Gulch environment and their new cabin mates. It also allows the Naturalist to become familiar with the cabin's students in order to best meet their needs throughout the week. The academic focus of this first trail is sensory awareness and respectful exploration of the outdoor environment. Students may have the opportunity to investigate the inside of a burned out tree, learn how to track animals, and make new friends. The discovery hike may also include cooperative group challenges and opportunities for creative expression through theatrics, drawing, and writing.
Green Day and Eco-Day
During their week at Outdoor Education, students will spend two full days exploring the forest of Jones Gulch. Naturalists structure activities using the natural environment to teach to the daily theme.
Green Day lessons focus on plants and the forest community. Students will learn about photosynthesis, the parts of plants and trees, plant reproduction, and life cycles. They will explore the relationship of plants in the forest including the soil cycle and the air cycle. Interacting more closely with their surroundings, students will identify and taste wild edibles and become familiar with native plant species.
Eco-Day lessons focus on the concepts of ecology and interdependence. Students explore the redwood forest, the oak forest, and the chaparral grasslands. Students learn about predator-prey relationships, food chains, and population dynamics. Naturalists may challenge their trail group to detect evidence of an herbivore or carnivore. Perhaps they will have the chance to become a bobcat or mouse in one of the many predator-prey activities.
During these days, students will visit the emerald-hued Buckeye Grove, explore the Valley of the Giants, an old growth section of the redwood forest, meet Big Red, the tallest redwood tree on site, and spend time in the student-maintained organic garden.
Our organic garden provides a hands-on opportunity for students to plant and harvest vegetables, compost their food waste, and taste the bounty of the garden. The Sustainable Living Center includes solar panels that provide power to the naturalist-constructed straw bale classroom and heat water for the on-site tub. Students learn about ways humans can live with less impact on the environment. During the garden scavenger hunt, trail groups discover the willow dome, pond, chickens, and solar oven among other exciting components of the garden.
Students travel to three coastal environments during their beach day.
The students visit a unique community of plants and animals and learn about adaptation and habitat niches at the marsh. Students learn how the marsh functions as a wildlife nesting ground, migration resting spot, natural water purifier, atmospheric gas producer, flood control area, and fish hatchery. Students gain an appreciation for wetlands and an understanding of the importance of their preservation. They may make rope from natural materials, go on a beach scavenger hunt or use binoculars to identify birds.
Tide pooling is one of the week's free exploration highlights. Students are encouraged to look at and handle the creatures living in this community, while their naturalists explain marine animal adaptations, communities, and food chains. Such close contact with living beings in their environments promotes respect and reverence for these natural places.
Seal Rock and Pebble Beach
Students walk along the Pacific coast and observe northern harbor seals at a frequent resting spot. Naturalists discuss the seal's adaptation to the aquatic environment and behavioral characteristics. The walk is a time to observe coastal plants and watch the waves and seabirds. Pebble Beach is a unique natural phenomenon and an opportunity to learn about coastal geology. Students bury each other in pebbles or create mosaics using the multi-colored rocks.
The night hike emphasizes multi-sensory exploration and encourages students to trust their personal instincts and those of their cabin mates. Hikes after dark also offer an opportunity to collect evidence of nocturnal animals and to learn about their adaptations. Students will observe the changes in the night sky and moon movement. This activity concludes with the naturalist singing or reading students to sleep in their cabins.
At Earth Dance, students will learn dances from several cultures around the world and gain an understanding of the role of dance in each culture. Students will also have the chance to make up their own dances to different styles of music.
Students prepare for their field trip to the ocean through an evening class that includes a slide show, skits, and songs. At Ocean Odyssey, students dress up as birds and tide pool creatures and learn about Pacific coastal and ocean habitats.
The final evening activity at Outdoor Education is one of theatrics and celebration. Each cabin presents a three-minute performance about their week at Outdoor Education creatively expressing what they have learned during the week to the entire group. Students may also have the opportunity to watch their teachers, naturalists or cabin leaders on stage.
© 2017 San Mateo Outdoor Education