1 IMG_4441-400x300Yesterday, October 7, was our full day field trip to Crater Lake National Park. As Oregon’s only national park, it holds a place of prestige for our Southern Oregon region. Even though the park is only about an hour and a half from our school, more than half of our DreamExtreme students had not previously visited Crater Lake. It was exciting to be able to watch their reactions as they saw the profound blue of the water for the first time.

The rangers who worked with our students – Darby, Emily, and John – were amazing. Their enthusiasm for the park and rapport with the kids helped to make the experience completely enjoyable and connected to learning. Every student left the park with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the unique ecosystem found at the volcanic site.

2 IMG_4452-150x150Students started the chilly day with a brief history of how Mount Mazama – formerly the highest peak in what is now the state of Oregon – was transformed into Crater Lake more than 7,000 years ago. Discussing the explosive origins of the lake while peering out at the deep blue of the water made the conversation even more relevant and impacting. We then went inside the museum to browse the displays and interactive learning centers.

3 IMG_4485-150x150Next, our group went on the trail of the many woodland creatures who inhabit the park. Armed with clipboards, data sheets, binoculars and keen interest, they tracked birds, squirrels, and other animals near the rim of the caldera. DreamExtreme students have quick eyes, it turns out, helping them to spot many more two and four-legged inhabitants than I was able to discover.

4 IMG_4517-150x150One of the favorite activities of the trip was the chance to dig in and around a fallen mountain hemlock tree and explore the animals that call it home. Students found spiders, ants, and beetles, squealing with excitement with each discovery.

We were very blessed to have six remarkable parents and grandparents spend their day with us, helping to make our first field trip of the year one of the best I have ever experienced as a teacher. Now we have to decide whether we’ll return to Crater Lake in the early spring when the park is under massive amounts of snow. 33 DreamExtreme students on snowshoes? Yeah, that would be pretty cool.

Today, in class, students wrote short blog posts about the field trip experience. Read what they had to say here: DreamExtreme on KidBlog

We have also uploaded some photos from the field trip to our class Flickr stream. Check out the images here: DreamExtreme on Flickr