Students from Chester and Westwood pose with their counselors during Sixth-grade Science Camp held Sept. 10 through Sept. 13 at the University of California Berkeley Forestry Camp in Meadow Valley, California. Photo by Jon Foy

Sixth-graders get hands-on learning at Science Camp

The sixth-grade class at Westwood Jr/Sr High School brought their lessons back to their classroom from science camp in the pages of a journal with notes and drawings.

To gather the notes, they walked along the banks of a creek and through a meadow and forest near the University of California Berkeley Forestry Camp in Meadow Valley, California. They shared the camp, run as an outdoor classroom by Rob Wade for the Plumas County Office of Education, with the sixth-grade class from Chester Elementary Sept. 10-13. Sixth-grade classes from other Plumas County schools attended throughout the month.

Jon Foy, the sixth-grade science teacher at Westwood Unified School District, received permission to take his students to the camp in 2017 and the expense was approved by the board of trustees. For a few years Foy held Science Camp at Burney Falls State Park when the Lassen County Office of Education stopped hosting a camp at Eagle Lake.

According to Jalyn Halcrow, the camp is a great way to learn science because students had fun learning. Maddie Haver said an example of the fun learning process was a game they played on the meadow hike in which students drew cards to see if they were a predator or prey. If a predator, they would need to catch their prey. Haver said in one game she was a grasshopper and in a second game a falcon. As a falcon she caught a mouse and a snake. This activity helped students learn the various types of wildlife that inhabit a meadow.

Reece Gibbs found learning fun during the creek hike because students got to catch bugs with nets. There was a sheet of paper with pictures of insects for identification purposes.

Most liked the hands-on learning. Blaze Walker named the pinecone scavenger hunt a favorite. Cadence Stevens liked learning the age of trees by taking a core sample during the forest hike. But even facts verbally relayed during the hikes were often remembered.

“I learned that in the winter foxes dig up moles and eat them,” said Ethan Lutes.

In order to remember all that was taught during the hikes and activities, students wrote the details in their journals every morning and afternoon, said Lily Fox. Wade would write each activity on a white board as a memory prompt.

In addition to science lessons, students participated in camp activities.

“I liked the singing around the campfire at night because I want to grow up to be a singer,” said Halcrow.

Several took the Polar Bear Plunge Friday morning including Fox who said she wanted her name in the book that had been kept for 24 years. There were games as well, such as Pioneers and Outlaws.

Science Camp is part of the curriculum for sixth-grade students at Westwood Jr/Sr High School.