Field Trip Brings Volcano Studies to Life for Sixth Graders

posted Oct 22, 2015, 4:59 PM by Rita Sanders   [ updated Oct 22, 2015, 5:01 PM ]

Field Trip Brings Volcano Studies to Life for Sixth Graders

October 22, 2015

More than 100 students from Tukes Valley Middle School made the hour-long trek to Silver Lake in Cowlitz County last week to learn about volcanoes at the visitor center for the Mount St. Helens National Monument. The sixth graders, who are studying volcanoes and ecosystems as part of the state's new science standards, learned about different kinds of volcanoes and why they erupt.

Battle Ground Public Schools is on its third year of implementing the science standards. Called the Washington State 2013 Science Learning Standards, they provide consistent science education through all grades and are part of a national effort called Next Generation Science that updates current standards based on how scientific work has changed. 

At the Mount St. Helens Silver Lake Visitor Center, students explored the exhibits and watched a video, all of which provide a detailed account of Mount St. Helens ash-spewing blast that occurred at 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980. Students could walk through a scale-model of Mount St. Helens and see a magma chamber. A state park ranger shared with students details about the eruption and how it impacted Silver Lake and the surrounding area.

"The goal is to provide students with a real-life perspective of our classroom science lessons," said Carli Barnes, a sixth grade teacher at Tukes Valley Middle School.

Teachers in Battle Ground Public Schools plan field trips to engage students in applying what they study in class and supplement their lesson plans. Some field trips take students away from campuses to places such as the Mount St. Helens National Monument, the Oregon Zoo and local farms and pumpkin patches. Teachers also can bring their students to the district's Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education, or CASEE, to learn about agricultural practices, animal care and botany.

Students on the Mount St. Helens field trip also walked the trail adjacent to Silver Lake and learned about how debris and sediment impacted the marshy area. When the morning fog lifted, students viewed Mount St. Helens from the visitor center. During the trip, students completed science packets that encouraged them to read displays and listen to presentations for information about volcanoes and the area.

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