School News & Notes: Yuba River Day at Donner Trail
What better place to get a hands-on learning experience about science and nature than the Truckee Tahoe region? Students at Donner Trail Elementary got the chance to do just that at their annual Yuba River Day, which took place Friday, Oct. 24. The schools kindergarten through fifth graders gear up the week prior to Yuba River Day through a series of guest speakers and activities designed to teach environmental science across the curriculum. They learn science and math by studying watershed models, language arts through journaling and other writing exercises, and equally important to their academic studies, the students learn the importance of being stewards of the environment. All that classroom preparation leads up to the big day where, this year, the kids rotated through six stations set up along the Yuba River adjacent to the school. Some of the stations included: a blind trail where students had to feel their way along a roped trail and identify objects using their senses other than sight; a water quality monitoring station where the kids measured temperature, pH and overall water quality; a water bug station where the kids caught river creatures and studied them under a microscope; an edible plants of the Sierra station where everyone sampled pine needle tea; a station where the kids planted native species of cedar and pine trees; and an erosion station where the students learned how the force of water can change a landscape.We consider the outdoor component extremely important. Its completely hands-on and real for these kids. It is a wonderful way to engage them and tie-in what theyve learned in class to what is happening right outside our windows, notes Donner Trail teacher Michelle Reed.The Yuba River Day event depends on parent and community support to be a success. This year, there were more than 50 volunteers who came out to help with the event including experts from UC Davis and the Sierra Watershed Education Partnership. In addition, the schools Parent Teacher Organization and Excellence in Education contribute funding to purchase supplies. In fact, the PTOs largest fundraiser of the year, which helps pay for programs like Yuba River Day, is their upcoming Thanksgiving Day Dinner. This years dinner will be held at Boreal Ski Resort on Saturday, Nov. 15. There will be a raffle, silent and live auction. All are welcome at this community-oriented event. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Donner Trail School at (530) 426-3639.