“January Thaw,” an essay found in Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, kicks off this program as an introduction to how “trackers” read the landscape to discover the secret lives of animals. Students will discover the skills of observation and inference as we search for types of animal signs, learn typical track pattern classification, and hit the trails to uncover the stories the land can tell. Skins and skulls are included in this program. Great for a winter program! Partners well with Snowshoe Science.
Aquatic Field Studies (Monona Only)
Naturalists will guide students in a detailed aquatic field study of a wetland or pond system at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Students will work in teams to gather data on the living and non-living parameters of an aquatic system. Using scientific tools, we will measure pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and invertebrate biodiversity. Students will learn the relationships between these factors, and discuss the potential impact of human activities on aquatic systems.
Changes Over Time
Aldo Leopold once wrote, “keeping records enhances the pleasure of the search”. Students will make and record observations about the natural world. We’ll add these to Leopold’s historical data and analyze the data for any changes over time. We’ll discuss the difference between short-term and long-term changes and examine the natural processes and human activities that can influence these changes. Partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.
Crazy about Climate!
Find out about the science behind climate and how our climate is changing. Through interactive investigations, experiments and activities, students will learn the concepts behind the carbon cycle, greenhouse effect and other scientific phenomenon that contribute to climate change. We will then innovate and create solutions that reduce these effects. Adapts well to a longer program and partners with Energy and Society and/or add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.
Energy! Constantly flowing, driving, and transforming the physical shape of the earth and the biological processes of its living organisms. Students will learn that energy always follows natural laws. Hands-on experiments and observations involving heat transfer, power measurement and decomposition will be conducted. Partners well with Energy and Society and/or add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.
Energy and Society
All human energy sources have advantages over others. Some pollute less, some are cheaper and some last forever. In this program, students will examine their own energy use and some of its costs and benefits while exploring alternatives. Students will see energy conservation first-hand through green practices at ALNC, consider the impact of human energy use on global resources and innovate ways to conserve and use resources sustainably. Partners well with Energy 101, Crazy About Climate, and/or add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.
Forest Diversity (Black Earth Only)
How does topography influence what plants are found in an area? Using data collection techniques students will conduct a forest survey to measure both the living and non-living components of two areas in a forest ecosystem. They’ll then compare what communities thrive on north-facing vs. south-facing slopes.
Students will find there is plenty of math lurking in the forest during this program, as they are introduced to tools and techniques utilized by foresters to determine the diameter of trees, calculate board feet and determine the age of a tree. We’ll also discuss options for careers in forestry and the knowledge needed for these jobs.
Geology of the Driftless Region (Black Earth only)
Hundreds of millions of years ago, Black Earth was underneath a tidal sea. We know this because the remains of that seabed are found all around the Driftless Region! Students will learn about how the rocks and landscape of this area were formed and search for fossils as we explore the ancient hills and rocky outcroppings of Black Earth.
Glaciers: Past, Present and Future
Learn about the glaciers that formed the landscape of Wisconsin and what formations they made along the way. Students will hike a glacial drumlin to see the work of glaciers first-hand, observe a model glacier and learn how the earth’s glaciers of today are changing. Come away with an understanding of how powerful glaciers really are and their role in a global ecosystem. Partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.
Leopold’s Life and Legacy
As they learn about the Leopold family’s legacy and how Leopold’s land ethic influences conservation efforts even today, students will hike the woods, prairie, and pond areas surrounding the Nature Center and spend time in the Children’s Shack. We’ll partake in some of Aldo Leopold’s favorite past-times such as bird watching, tree identification, or land restoration. We’ll record our observations in the Nina Leopold Bradley Phenology Center.Partners well with Nature Writing and Changes Over Time.
Aldo Leopold’s fame can be largely attributed to his skill as a nature writer. In Leopold fashion, students will become nature writers, using journaling and sketches to record their observations about the natural world. This program enhances writing and observational skills, encourages attention to detail, and teaches the Leopold legacy. Partners well with Leopold’s Life and Legacy and Changes Over Time.
(Add Geocaching component for an all-day adventure!)
Students will learn the parts of a compass, how to hold and use it properly, and pacing. We’ll lead them through some introductory initiatives, and then test their skills on two challenging outdoor orienteering courses. For advanced groups, this course can also be done as a competitive orienteering course by using a topographical map and determining their own bearings and pacing.
Anyone could find themselves in a situation where they need to use survival skills. Not only must we respect natural forces but also learn what nature provides to help us survive. We will learn how to dress for the weather, pack a survival kit and work cooperatively to develop a strategy when faced with a survival situation. Students will also work in teams to build a fire, boil water, and make a debris shelter. Partners well with Snowshoe Science.
Small Mammal Ecology
“Pest” rodents like mice, voles, moles and shrews are essential to the food chain. Students will look for signs in local habitats and explore adaptations by looking at small mammal skeletons up close and by dissecting an owl pellet. We may even see a small mammal through live trapping!
Snowshoe Science (Offered January through mid-March; conditions permitting)Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy winter and stay healthy! After introducing the history of snowshoeing and learning about various styles, each student will be given a pair of snowshoes and we’ll head out across the snow covered prairie to learn basic snowshoeing skills and techniques. Along our hike, we’ll observe seasonal highlights. Sit ski available for students with physical disabilities, giving them an opportunity to get outside and explore the snow packed trails alongside their classmates!
What are the attributes of a good team and why are teams important? In this program, students will be given progressively more difficult “initiative games” to challenge their problem solving, creative thinking and communication skills. Our Naturalists will select the best initiatives to help your class build trust and cooperation, and work to achieve a common goal in a physically safe environment.
In this program, students will discover how to use a dichotomous key to identify some of Wisconsin’s most common tree species. Using a map and key, students will work in teams to test their newly acquired skills on our tree ID course. This program can be done in either spring/fall when leaves are present, or in winter by using a tree bud ID key.
Wildlife Ecology – FOSS 6-8
Aldo Leopold wrote, “When we begin to see the land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect”. Students will investigate the dynamic interrelationships of wildlife populations and their habitats. Through investigative activities and explorations, we will learn about ecosystems, carrying capacities, natural selection and their effect on populations. We will also discuss the impact biodiversity has on the health of a community. Partners well with Changes Over Time or Snowshoe Science.
Students will hike the Nature Center grounds to learn about the ecological importance of snow cover and discover how ice thickness can affect ecological populations. We’ll also look for signs of the animals that are still around during the cold months and they survive Wisconsin winters. Partners well with Snowshoe Science.
Wisconsin’s Wacky Weather – FOSS 4-8
After learning about weather and collecting data on today’s weather patterns, students will create a forecast for the next day. We’ll explore differences between weather and climate, learn how Earth’s climate has and is changing, discuss factors that play into this change and consider the effects of our actions. Partners well with Crazy About Climate, and/or add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Please remember – your program topic can be tailored to fit your group’s specific needs. Ask us about a topic of your choice!
To schedule a field trip, please contact our Program Coordinator at (608)-216-9370 or email@example.com.