Growing Great Minds Lessons

Beaver Fever

Grades: K-12

Objective: Students will strengthen their sense of place and learn about the concepts of adaptations, keystone species, and biodiversity through one of the west’s most prevalent and enigmatic species.

Description: Did you know that beavers are a keystone species? This means that they have a disproportionately large effect on their environment and other species in relation to their actual numbers. We happen to have a great population in the Wood River Valley! In this lesson, we’ll use interactive activities to learn all about beavers from their unique adaptations to their role as a keystone species. Students will have the opportunity to become a beaver and construct their own beaver dam with natural materials.

Macroinvertebrate Mayhem

Grades: K-12

Objective: Students will learn about adaptations and water quality by studying macroinvertebrates. Through field observations, students will connect to their environment and bolster their sense of place.

Description: There is an entire tiny world right under our noses, and we’re going to investigate it! In this lesson, we’ll participate in games and activities using macroinvertebrates as a lens to learn about adaptations, the food web, and water quality. Students get hands on and up close with these often-overlooked creatures, making hypotheses, observations, and drawing conclusions along the way.

Snow Day: Winter Tracking

Grades: K-12

Objective: To teach students the importance of snow to many species in the Wood River Valley, and to develop their sense of place.

Description: Animal tracking highlights local, active winter species. Students will learn how to identify tracks via gait, stride, number of toes, and size; and how to identify scat via size, shape, and contents. After an introductory classroom lesson you can choose to go practice tracking in the field!

Snow Day: Snow Science

Grades: 2 & up

Objective: To teach students the importance of snow to many species, including humans, in the Wood River Valley.

Description: Students will learn about Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) and its multifaceted importance in the ecosystem. Then we’ll dig snow pits to highlight new and old snow formations and learn how to measure SWE.

Predator-Prey Relationships

Grades: K-8

Objective: To help students gain a better understanding of animal adaptations, predator and prey interactions, and the importance of a natural balance in the wild.

Description: In this lesson we will define carnivores, omnivores and herbivores. Then, we’ll narrow our focus to predator and prey species native to our ecosystem. We’ll use skulls, pelts, and track molds to learn about the adaptations each had developed to help them thrive in their habitats. We’ll close with interactive games to explore carrying capacity and the importance of natural balance in healthy ecosystems.

Bio-Control in the Wood River Valley

Grades: K-8

Objective: Students will learn the difference between native plants, weeds, and noxious weeds and develop ideas on how to control noxious weeds while maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Description: Students will handle models of local noxious weeds, discuss the various adaptations plants have to help them survive and learn about the different ways to control weeds, including Bio-Control. There is an optional field trip to the ERC’s Insectary where the ERC, in collaboration with the US Forest Service, raises weevils (insects) to help combat knapweed, a local noxious weed.

Where Does the Garbage Go? The Problem with Landfills

Grades: 3-8

Objective: Students will learn about the environmental impacts that landfills can have as well as ways they can reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills

Description: In this lesson, we’ll start by learning about the dizzying amount of waste that goes into landfills. Next, we’ll look at processes that take place in landfills that ultimately lead to negative environmental impacts. This is reinforced when students break into small groups to build models of the different kinds of landfills that have been used throughout human history. Finally, we’ll learn about alternatives to the landfill and ways to cut down on our personal waste production.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Grades: K-8

Objective: To teach students simple and fun ways to live more sustainably in their everyday lives.

Description: This lesson will focus on the positive impacts that we can all have by making simple “green” choices on a daily basis. We will draw connections between materials students use everyday and where they came from in the earth and develop ideas on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Geology Rocks

Grades:  K-6

Objective: To help students interpret the geologic cycle, identify three types of rock, and strengthen their sense of place by learning about the geologic processes and human interactions that have formed the Wood River Valley.

Description: Students will participate in fun, hands-on activities to learn about the rock cycle, the three types of rocks, and the geologic events that have shaped the Wood River Valley. In addition, we’ll take a look at the influence of mining in our area and consider its environmental impacts.


Scheduling and Science Standards:

For information on correlating science standards and FOSS kit modules or to schedule your program contact Alisa McGowan, ERC Program Director, or call 208-726-4333.


Click here to go back to the general overview page on Growing Great Minds.

Alisa McGowanIn-School Lessons