Thunder Valley

SOLE’s Final Family Nature Night at Thunder Valley

May 18, 2016

Thunder  Valley FNN 021

For the final Family Nature Night of the 2015-2016 school year, Thunder Valley sure had a blast. The kids attempted and dominated archery with A&H Adventures and St. Vrain State Park, backyard bass fishing with Cabela’s, and a new trivia game with History Colorado. Barr Lake brought their t-shirt machine to give each student a souvenir reminding them to wear life jackets. The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies taught the best binocular-using techniques in order to spot native birds while Nature’s Educators brought a live Screech owl, Peregrine Falcon, and snakes. At the raffle, the students won fishing poles, camping gear, and passes to History Colorado and Colorado State Parks. SOLE Staff were surprised to find themselves winners as well after the students and teachers had generously assembled beautiful and thoughtful gift baskets as a Thank You. Thanks Thunder Valley for making the last Family Nature Night of the year such a fun success!

Roaring with Excitement at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal

April 28, 2016


As snow fell from a dreary sky, Thunder Valley SOLE students refused to let the weather get them down at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. In the warmth of the indoors, classes explored interactive exhibits with all senses. Students listened in as prairie dogs barked and elk bugled. Meanwhile, others peered through the spotting scope in search of birds hiding on the plains. Across the refuge, classes worked together to assemble an entire bison skeleton.

Despite the cold, there was no shortage of wildlife to view! Students shuffled onto the school bus for a wildlife refuge safari. Bison roamed the plains, rabbits scurried about, birds fluttered near the pond, deer hid amidst the grass, and Red-tailed hawks soared through the sky.

The highlight of the day? Students got the rare opportunity to view Black-footed ferrets. Once believed to be extinct, these spectacular creatures are the most endangered mammal in North America. Thanks to recovery efforts led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ferrets have been reintroduced to numerous sites throughout Colorado— including the refuge. Two live ambassadors live in the refuge’s exhibit to help educate guests about their wild comrades.

Bad weather is no reason to stay indoors! With the proper clothing, we can enjoy Colorado and its wildlife in all seasons. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is open nearly every day of the year, free of charge. We hope that our SOLE families get the chance to explore it further!

Boardwalks and Birds at Barr Lake State Park

April 1, 2016


Thunder Valley students bounced, skipped, and piggy backed their way through Barr Lake State Park on a beautiful day! Across bridges and boardwalks, birds could be seen flying high as their songs echoed through the trees. Where might their nests be? How can they make their nests safe? Luckily, there was no shortage of naturalists to guide us toward the answers. Woodpeckers create decoy holes to deter predators! And today’s highlight— Bald Eagles nest high up in the trees along the water’s edge. We even got to see them through the spotting scope!

While life teems above the water, plenty more organisms lurk beneath. Students inspected macroinvertebrates through their microscopes and squinted to see fish beneath the viewing dock. After learning about ecoystems yesterday, students saw interconnectedness in action when a Belted Kingfisher plunged into the water for a fish.

After an action-filled hike and a brief lesson about skull adaptations by the nature center, many students sat down to reflect on what they’d seen. Thank you to Barr Lake State Park staff & volunteers, Thunder Valley teachers & chaperones, and everyone else who made this incredible experience happen. The students has a blast getting outdoors and exploring ecosystems in action.



Know Before You Go—Setting the Stage for our State Park Visit

March 31, 2016

What types of things will you see in the State Park? How will those things interact? What types of animals live there? What problems might they face?

Students had fantastic questions about tomorrow’s field trip to Barr Lake State Park! In preparation for the visit, SOLE staff visited Thunder Valley’s classrooms to teach a brief lesson about ecosystems. Students learned what biotic and abiotic things may exist in the Barr Lake ecosystem. As brilliant teachers themselves, they created posters to educate one another about the endless connections amongst living and non-living things: animals, plants, rocks, dirt, water, sun, humans, and more!

To keep this delicate ecosystem healthy, we must know the Rules of Exploration. Students came up with an array of important rules to keep in mind during their Barr Lake State Park field trip. Respect other people, respect the wildlife, speak quietly, stay on the trail, no littering, don’t pick up things to bring home, and more. In other words— Look, Learn, and Leave Alone.

With ecosystems in mind and thinking caps on, Thunder Valley students should have a blast at Barr Lake!

From the Clouds to the Classroom— A Visit from Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

February 5, 2016


SOLE students enjoyed an in-class presentation by one of our cherished SOLE partners, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. What types of adaptations do different birds have? Where do they live, what do they eat, and how do they deal with everyday life?

Students learned about the unique adaptations of many different birds: the Great Horned Owl, Hooded Merganser, and Red Breasted Nuthatch. After that, they got the opportunity to create their own birds! Students collaborated with one another to invent a new, unique bird species. First, they named the birds and decided on their diet, habitat, and how they get around. Then students modeled their creations using play dough and craft supplies. The creativity was outstanding! In the end, each group presented their bird to the class.

Laughs and giggles filled the classroom. It was joyous for students and educators alike. We can’t wait to see Thunder Valley again at Barr Lake!

Thunder Valley Experiences Colorado’s History

December 18, 2015

One of our Northeast Region SOLE schools, Thunder Valley, made the trek to History Colorado on a wintry December day. Thunder Valley’s students were eager to file off of the bus on explore all the amazing hands-on interactive activities in the museum. Exploring Keota was a favorite among most students, along with the Dust Bowl simulation. Throughout each exhibit, students had their listening eyes and ears alert! We can’t wait for more SOLE field trips with Thunder Valley in the Spring!