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Connecting our research with the public through education and outreach partnerships

We share our science with families, students and teachers through formal and informal science learning opportunities. Our graduate students and researchers get training and experience communicating their science to public audiences and help us provide diverse ways of engaging students with our work through field courses, study tours, research and mentorship experiences.

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ONGOING EDUCATION AND OUTREACH INITIATIVES

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Winter Wildlands Alliance Snow School

Each winter Niwot Ridge LTER, Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center and Winter Wildlands Alliance bring elementary school children from the Boulder-Denver Metro area to the mountains. In the 2017-18 school year, approximately 120 1st-6th grade students and their teachers spent a day on snowshoes with us learning about snow science, the importance of snow, and about some aspects of LTER science. Niwot graduate students have also helped design teaching activities for the national Snow School network, such as the Snowpack Dust Experiment, which are now being taught across the country.

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CU Science Discovery Mountain Research Experience

In partnership with CU Science Discovery and Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza, 14 high school students spend a week living at the Mountain Research Station, working with Niwot researchers, and learning what it takes to do field science of all kinds.

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Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center Nature Camp

Six NWT graduate students who took the outreach and communication practicum put their skills into practice via a new collaboration between Wild Bear Ecology Center and NWT. NWT grads, staff and techs took children ages 10-15 into the field with them for four hours on each of 9 Wednesdays during the summer, demonstrating field techniques and teaching them about topics including Pika biology, water chemistry, climate data, limnology, subalpine forest ecology, phenology, and chickadee biology.

 
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Luminous ID app

The FREE app provides a full searchable species list with ID help for all plants (e.g., trees, grasses, etc.) found at the Niwot LTER site. It also lets you upload photographs to our database and provides a species distribution map with navigation capabilities. Our goal with this app was to create long-term geographic and photographic data sets to allow LTER researchers to gain an increased understanding of how timing of flowering is affected by a changing climate.

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Front Range Pika Project

NWT Pika biologist Dr. Chris Ray never misses a chance to teach people about pikas and climate change. Dr. Ray and her lab group are frequent bloggers and social media posters and they help run a successful citizen science project (http://www.pikapartners.org), as well as teaching field courses on Pika ecology and population monitoring techniques for National Park volunteers and the general public.

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ScienceLIVE

It is ScienceLIVE’s mission to act as a bridge between scientists and students through video-based lesson plans. These plans create a stronger relationship between science and the community.


Schoolyard Book and Related Teaching Materials

 
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My Water Comes From the Rocky Mountains

Written by environmental educator Tiffany Fourment, this book takes children on an illustrated journey from the snow on the Continental Divide to the water in their faucet tap.

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Colorado Mammals Classroom Kit

NWT LTER and the CU Museum of Natural History designed a curriculum kit for 4th grade classrooms to accompany our schoolyard book. The kit, “Adaptation and Variation in Colorado Mammals”, helps teach early evolution literacy concepts. The kit and its curriculum have been adopted by the Boulder Valley School District, was used in 26 classrooms at 9 schools in 2017-18 (~650 students), and will be used in over 80 classrooms in the 2018-19 year.

 
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My H2O Kit

Our Schoolyard Book promotes awareness of Front Range water sources. To enhance understanding of this important topic, we developed a Curriculum Guide. This guide includes lessons, ideas for water-wise sustainability in the classroom and community, and offers ways for teachers to grow their environmental education teaching skills.

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Want to set up a field trip for your class to visit the Niwot Ridge  LTER Site?

We try hard to accommodate schools that request the opportunity to do a field trip to the Mountain Research Station. In the 2017-18 school year, we introduced well over 200 middle and high school students to NWT research through field trips to the Mountain Research Station and lab tours on campus. Field trips give our graduate students a great chance to practice their communication skills, while sharing their research with the next generation of ecologists.