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Back to nature: Snoqualmie Valley youth explore Olallie's ecology

Mount Si High School student Blake Phillips leads a group of fifth grade students and volunteers along a trail in the Hunt for Biodiversity. The short hike is part of a day of lessons in science and ecology, taught by high school students in AP Biology, to Fall City Elementary students visiting Olallie State Park.  - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Mount Si High School student Blake Phillips leads a group of fifth grade students and volunteers along a trail in the Hunt for Biodiversity. The short hike is part of a day of lessons in science and ecology, taught by high school students in AP Biology, to Fall City Elementary students visiting Olallie State Park.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

It's a day out of school, but not a day off from learning. Every year, the fifth grade class of Fall City Elementary School, and the AP Biology class at Mount Si High School get together at Olallie State Park for an exploration of insects, animals, plants and all types of biodiversity, and learn together.

"The kids learn so much more by listening to other kids," explained Mount Si science teacher Andrew Rapin, who coordinates the Outdoor Classroom program each year with Fall City teachers Cassie McLellan, Barb Van Oeveren, Cheryl Coleman and Melissa Danberg. Outdoor Classroom, also supported by Nature Vision, is a series of learning stations scattered throughout the park, where high school students teach groups of fifth graders about their particular subject, ecology, adaptation, survival skills, and so on.

Even when it rains, as it did this year, enthusiasm is high in all ages of students. It's easier to get excited about some stations more than others, of course -- the mammals station with skulls and pelts to examine was always busy -- but Anna-Linnea Johansson is certain that students were more excited about her station, macro invertebrates, where they could look at insect eggs and larvae, and take a quick trip to the river to see some of them in action.

"This is where I'd want to spend my whole day!"

See a slideshow of their trip on Flickr.

 

 

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