Peiffer Enjoys Fun and Fishing at Family Nature Night
May 17, 2016
Pieffer Elementary hosted their 2nd annual SOLE Family Nature Night on Tuesday, May 17th. Students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities hosted by our partners including our usual favorites, archery with A&H Adventures, fishing with Cabela’s, trivia with staff from Chatfield State Park, and taking photos with History Colorado. In addition, there was also gardening with Denver Botanic Gardens, exploring crustaceans with Carson Nature Center, trying larvettes with Bear Creek Lake Park, and matching tools to similar bird beaks to snag food with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. There was, of course, free pizza and the chance to win fishing poles, binoculars, tents, and your very own youth chair to sit in around the campfire. With summer right around the corner, the possibilities for Peiffer students with their new knowledge, new local connections, and new camping gear are exciting!
Busy Beavers at Chatfield State Park
April 6, 2016
Chatfield State Park is known for its vast array of bird species fluttering through the trees and soaring overhead… but there is so much more! With the guidance of the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, Peiffer SOLE students explored unseen depths of the park.
Lurking beneath the surface, a peculiar creature shapes the landscape and alters the river’s flow. Though elusive during the daytime, it leaves scattered hints of its presence: tracks, downed trees, teeth marks, lodges, and dams. You guessed it— beavers! But how do they chop down trees? What enables them to live underwater? Before their exploration, students learned about the unique adaptations that allow for a unique lifestyle. It’s not much different than wearing goggles, flippers, nose plugs, a poncho, and more!
Peiffer SOLE students searched rivers, trails, streams, and ponds to find a variety of beaver clues. Along the way, they discovered other creatures that share those spaces. A turtle sunbathed upon a pond’s floating log while a toad warmed itself on the bank. Insects lay hidden in galls and hawks soared the skies overhead.
We look forward to seeing Peiffer again during their Family Nature Night on May 17th!
Following a Bird’s Journey
April 4, 2016
Peiffer SOLE students learned all about birds during an in-class visit from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. With spring blossoming, many bird species are undergoing fantastic migrations and incredible journeys. Among today’s featured birds were the Peregrine falcon, Sandhill crane, and Osprey. Even the smallest birds— the Broad-tailed hummingbird, Yellow warbler, and Killdeer— are world travelers!
Audubon staff and volunteers worked with students to map these migrations and research stunning facts about our feathered friends. They even listened to different bird calls using allaboutbirds.org! Along the way, groups learned what challenges birds face and how we can help. In the end, students presented their findings to their classmates.
This was a great introduction for Peiffer’s upcoming field trip to the Audubon Nature Center at Chatfield State Park. Hopefully students will catch a glimpse of our friends in flight!
Peiffer Explores Prairies with Denver Botanic Gardens
March 8, 2016
Prairies, plants, and producers- oh my! These are just a few of the many topics covered during Denver Botanic Garden’s in-class program with Peiffer SOLE students.
What species live on a prairie? How do they fit into the ecosystem? Students gathered up a variety of plants and animals in search of answers. Using photos and felt, they created a prairie ecosystem complete with eagles, grass, mushrooms, bison, snails, and even bacteria. Every single organism is an essential piece to the prairie puzzle.
After that, students became those organisms. Coyotes stalked rabbits. Rabbits hopped around in search of grass. Even mushrooms were out and about! What a fun way to explore the world of producers, consumers, and decomposers.
Even if you’re not outdoors, you can still get your hands dirty! Students delighted at the opportunity to take a little bit of prairie home with them. They planted their very own blue grama seeds– a beautiful grass that is native to Colorado. In order to nurse the seeds to life, students will get hands-on experience with other essential ecosystem pieces: sunlight and water. With the seeds planted, students created their own colorful landscapes for the pots to rest on.
We love bringing the outdoors into the classroom! Pieffer SOLE students never cease to impress us with their joy and enthusiasm. We look forward to seeing them again at Chatfield State Park!
Peiffer Students Travel Through Time at History Colorado
February 5, 2016
SOLE students traveled through time and down mines, journeying through the History Colorado Center to explore our state’s past. They descended down a simulated elevator shaft to Sunnyside Mine— which turns out, is not so sunny! Here they learned blasting techniques and even got to try their hands at strategic blasting patterns… But take cover! It can be tricky when working with dynamite.
Back above ground, students trekked south across the prairies to Bent’s Fort. They learned the importance of trading, types of vital trade items, and got experience in the marketplace with interactive trading cards.
As one class traded, the other rolled into dust! This Dust Bowl simulation is always a favorite for students and adults alike. The lights went dark and the wind began to howl. All of a sudden, a massive wall of dust overtook the horizon. After many minutes of chaos the storm ceased, the lights flickered on, and SOLE students returned to present day Colorado— just in time to watch the Broncos in the Super Bowl!
We had a blast with our Peiffer Elementary SOLE students! We hope that, by exploring the past, we can instill a deep appreciation for our state’s present day settlements, ecosystems, and landscapes.
We look forward to our upcoming in-class presentation with the Denver Botanic Gardens. Keep your eyes peeled for more photos in March!
Peiffer Panthers Talk Riparian Ecosystems at Carson Nature Center
SOLE students from Peiffer Elementary headed over to the South Platte Park Carson Nature Center (CNC) this November to explore a riparian ecosystem first-hand. The Panthers met up with CNC staff to discover the interconnectedness of the world around them—from living elements such as beavers and trees, to nonliving elements such as water and rocky inclines—students pieced together an ecosystem puzzle as a class to demonstrate how everything depends on one another.
With students eager to get outside, CNC naturalists took the lesson into the field. A short hike behind the Nature Center revealed a Cottonwood forest and a calm stream-bed where some unstructured exploration was in order.
“Shells! I found a boatload of shells!” shouted one of the 4th graders, causing exploration to cease while students gathered around to talk about how they might have gotten here.
Before the close of the afternoon, the Panthers had scavenged evidence of crawdads, baby fish, and other aquatic animals, along with a few cool chunks of sparkling quartz crystal that had been picked up along the way (how could one not?). Before returning the items to their home in nature, everyone shared what they had discovered and how it might fit into the puzzle they started the day by piecing together.
Living or nonliving, it was clear students had developed a greater appreciation for the little things. Students and staff alike had a great day out at South Platte Park in the crisp, November air; we can’t wait to see more of this bunch at their upcoming Family Nature Night this Spring!