Eric Harssema
Special to the Bonanza

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December 20, 2012
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Science, outdoor education take center stage at Incline Elementary

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - The new science lab at Incline Elementary School is bursting with activity, excitement and experimentation. From the moment you walk into the lab, you will be pleasantly surprised by the degree of enthusiasm emanating from the students.

Fourth-graders peer at diatoms through microscopes with focused attention, fifth-graders curiously test the affects of temperature on air molecules and second-graders balance paper crawdads on the tips of their fingers.

The scientific process is thriving at Incline Elementary School thanks to a donation from the IES PTA and a grant from the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation. These generous allocations allowed IES to create a Science and Outdoor Education Program to enrich the current curriculum and implement outdoor education. The program boasts a full-time coordinator, science lab, funding for field trips, assemblies and other school-wide events.

Laurel Frederick, the full time Science and Outdoor Education Program coordinator/instructor (and AmeriCorps member), leads daily lessons in the lab while adhering to the program's three main goals:

• First, to promote science education by serving as a resource for teachers and students.

• Second, to expand the learning base by welcoming input from community members and organizations who possess a wealth of knowledge.

• Finally, to impart an appreciation for science and investigation by leading students in the exploration of the outdoor environment.

Though the Science and Outdoor Education Program just began in September, a variety of nonprofit organizations, government agencies and academic institutions have offered their support. These collaborations have culminated in guest speakers, classroom lessons, science events, field trip opportunities and the donation of materials/equipment.

Key community partners include IVGID Waste Not, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Sierra Nevada College, US Forest Service, Nevada State Parks, Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences, SWEP, American Red Cross and many others. A number of dedicated volunteers with a background and passion for science have been contributors as well.

Furthermore, local field trips and extracurricular clubs, such as "outdoor leadership" and "birding" have already given students an opportunity to learn about their natural world.

Field trip highlights thus far include a fourth-grade Incline Flume hike, a third-grade trip to see the kokanee salmon at Davis Creek, a second-grade Spooner Lake adventure and a first-grade field trip to Adeline Family Farms. In April, fifth-graders will go on a five-day outdoor education trip to Grizzly Creek Ranch. On a smaller scale, walking field trips and studying the natural areas right outside IES will serve as an outdoor lab.

If you have any interest in viewing the science lab in action, would like to offer your science expertise or donate to the program, contact Laurel Frederick at Check out to see additional pictures, videos and to learn more about the program.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 21, 2012 05:24PM Published Dec 20, 2012 12:59PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.