Our students are interested in learning how to protect and preserve the subalpine ecosystem for the Mountain hemlocks and the Whitebark pines due to beetle infestation, drought, and blight. We want to understand the symbiotic relationship the Clark's nutcrackers have with these trees. Our wish is to begin a campaign for changes we can make to help improve and protect this area.
Students will venture to Mt. Hood to investigate the timberline ecosystem at 6,000 feet beginning this school year. The Mt. Hood wilderness provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the subalpine habitat. Our alpine ecology curriculum will focus on seasonal changes in a high mountain environment. Students summarize as teams, comparing and contrasting as an entry level opportunity for an introduction to climate change. Snow crystal studies, measurement of snow depth, temperature and wind speed, adaptations of alpine plants and animals, hibernation and the relationship between alpine birds and trees are some investigations students will participate in to build background knowledge of the area. They will observe how these variations can affect organisms that thrive in the subalpine habitat. The learner will connect to concrete observations and explain as scientists would through mapping, data collection and journaling. They will summarize as teams, comparing and contrasting data to create possible explanations of how environmental conditions influence the organisms that live in the ecological area. Students will measure snowpack and it’s relationship to the budding of Mountain hemlock trees. They'll research the impact of drought, bark beetle infestation, and blight on Whitebark pines. They will investigate the symbiotic relationship between the Clark's nutcrackers to Whitebark pines. Students are partnering with the National Park Service. This program will be on-going for years. As students begin to collect data, they will compare information/data from other National Parks and move toward solutions to preserve and protect this ecosystem.