Item: Students study snow science in wyoming
Title: Students study snow science in wyoming
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2004 International Snow Science Workshop, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Authors: Liz David, Field Science Instructor, Pinedale High School, Pinedale, WY 82941
Abstract: Kids and snow – this obvious match can extend well beyond fun winter recreation, to be building blocks for intriguing and authentic units of study in school curriculum. By moving beyond the single day guest speaker, students can conduct authentic research in snow science. Since 1997 in Pinedale, Wyoming, high school students have been studying winter snow and wind in classes called “Field Science.” The results have spread beyond the classroom to students’ families and friends, and have stayed with students as lifetime learning. The primary yearlong goal of Pinedale’s Field Science classes is to involve students in authentic science research projects, targeting local topics close to student interests. Winter projects in December through March in Wyoming, therefore, target snow and wind! During Field Science 1, students focus on questions posed about snow and avalanches. Students work in “pit teams” with “pit kits” to dig numerous snowpits from December into March to compare snowpack characteristics over time and in various terrains. Weekly results are related to avalanche trends and recent occurrences, to build skills in personal safety and forecasting. For second year students, the focus shifts to questions about wind, blowing snow, and control strategies. These students conduct field and lab trials to answer questions about wind and snow behavior around natural barriers and sets of differing snow fences. Results are applied to local landowners’ drifting problems, to further build skills in problem solving and communicating in real-life situations. The new challenge question begun in 2004 focuses on vortex generators and their potential for a drifting road to the White Pine Ski Area. From 1997-2004, approximately 245 students have conducted snow science field research, and over 90 have continued through the second year. Both study units are evolving annually to incorporate new professional advisors, additional equipment, and new research questions. The program’s successes give a clear message that snow research is definitely a strong match for student science studies and lifetime learning benefits.
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Keywords: outdoor education, avalanche education, snow studies, winter curriculum
Digital Abstract Not Available