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Utilizing argument from evidence is crucial to scientific practice. In birds class, students will collect evidence from bird observations to identify as many bird species as possible. Students explore bird adaptations in context and apply their knowledge to learning about how birds are nature’s storytellers. Finally, students will visit with Shady Creek’s injured raptors where they will discover how both knowledge and caring are necessary in order to make a positive difference.


Communities is a team building class where students learn how they are individually important to your class community. While on communities class, students will have the opportunity to conquer a variety of challenges including Shady Creek’s low-ropes course. Over the course of the lesson, students often make profound discoveries about themselves, and what it means to be a member of a community.

Creek Ecology

In creek ecology students explore interactions between the living and nonliving components of the creek ecosystem. Students make predictions based on population models that they create. In the creek, students capture macroinvertabrates and utilize observation to explore animal structures in relation to their specific environment. Finally, the class makes conclusions about creek health based on the macroinvertabrates that they collect.

Earth Processes- Under Construction

By the end of Earth Processes class, students will be able to explain water’s role in shaping the Earth. Students will model the movement of convection currents and the Earth’s plates. They will develop models of a watershed and make predictions about how water will affect the landscape. Finally, students will go rock hounding, where they find their own rock and use evidence to classify it two one of three rock types.

Forest Ecology

During Forest Ecology, students will walk through three different plant communities. Students will begin by exploring the trees at Shady Creek through their senses. We will then hike through  three distinct plant communities, investigating why each is different, and why. Students end by becoming the teachers and acting as the expert on one portion of the forest. This is Shady Creek’s longest hike. It can be up to three miles in length, but can easily be amended to be shorter. By the end of this lesson students will view a larger ecosystem as a conglomerate of habitats, each with its own unique attributes.

Garden - Under Construction

Garden Class is the most delicious class offered at Shady Creek Outdoor School. During this class, students will explore the garden using all of their senses. They will delve into the concepts of energy flow and matter cycling through exploring garden food chains. Students will learn guidelines for healthy food choices and enjoy fresh food from Shady Creek Outdoor School. By the end of class, students will understand why gardens have ingredients for life.

Nature Awareness (formerly Gorking)

Nature Awareness focuses on students using their senses to gain a deeper appreciation for nature. During this hike, students will engage in different sensory activities that include a barefoot walk, rock stacking, and sound maps. Students will end with a guided blind walk through our mixed woodland. This experience-based class leads to profound realizations and deep reflection.

Nature Investigation and Exploration (NIE)

During our newest class at Shady Creek, students will start taking huge adventures on a small scale. Kids will discover natural mysteries and use science skills to conduct investigations. Scientific practices will be accentuated and utilized throughout the hike. By the end of class, students will have investigated the case of the disappearing log, and created their own field guide to a natural wonder.


The survival class is designed to give students the opportunity to engineer a survival shelter based on criteria that the students establish. Over this two and a half hour class students will identify design constraints, and work together to improve their design to ensure survival under the wettest conditions. Students will learn about S.T.O.P. and F.I.B.S. as well as the most crucial aspects of surviving in the wild.