Pennock Flies High at their 4th Annual Family Nature Night
May 4, 2017
In 2013, Pennock Elementary became one of two schools in the brand new Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE) Program. With open arms, they embraced new ideas and unknown territory in Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s pilot program.
Four years later, Pennock Elementary stands strong. With their unbridled enthusiasm and fervent dedication, they have paved the way for 35 statewide schools to participate in the continually growing SOLE program.
SOLE’s first ever Family Nature Night (left) paved the way for hundreds yet to come. Pennock’s 2017 Family Nature Night (right) was just as fun!
At their Fourth Annual Family Nature Night, Pennock Elementary students and their families enjoyed an evening of nature themed fun with Colorado Parks & Wildlife and our fantastic participating partners: Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, A&H Adventures, History Colorado, Barr Lake State Park, and Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
The evening was filled with an array of exciting, educational outdoor activities. Students shouted with delight during Backyard Bass fishing practice and gasped with excitement at the opportunity to try archery. They soared around as migratory butterflies and giggled with awe at the size of a bison skull. Bird photos graced the building- binoculars were the only way to identify them! Inside, students created their own customized t-shirts, tested their wildlife trivia skills, observed live insects, and learned about Colorado’s history.
Thank you to Pennock staff, partners, and CPW volunteers who made this event happen.
Thanks to Pennock’s passion and leadership, the SOLE program continues to inspire thousands of students and families to explore the outdoors.
Pennock Students are Found Guilty…
March 16, 2017
Of having a blast on their field trip to the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center!
On March 16, 2017, Pennock SOLE students were found guilty of multiple charges: having fun, learning about the law, exploring new places, meeting lawyers, wandering through a Supreme Courtroom, and experiencing a beautiful place.
What’s it like to be a judge? How do you prepare a case? Students sped around the Colorado Judicial Learning Center in search of answers. They looked, read, heard, and touched their way through the interactive exhibits in order to understand how our judicial system works. Many took on the roles of prosecutors, juries, lawyers, and judges. Did they have fun? Yes, Your Honor!
Afterwards, students wound up and up to gaze out at the Colorado State Capitol from one of the highest floors. Colorado emblems are hidden throughout the building, most notably our state flower: the Columbine. Little did students know that even the floor they stood upon was in the shape of a “C.”
Our newly inspired Justices explored the Supreme Court Courtroom, public art displays, and —shhhhh— even the Supreme Court Library. Students brilliantly recited the Constitution from memory and awed at the ancient languages painted along the windows.
Protecting the outdoors we love requires laws, policies, and the people that prepare them. We hope that our SOLE students can appreciate what it takes to conserve nature from a different perspective, after a day in court.
What Did the Bison Say to His Son on His First Day of School?
February 17th, 2017
The Students of Pennock Elementary giggled at the jokes the Arsenal Staff was telling during the bus tour of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The Arsenal is a special place where visitors can view wildlife in their natural habitat.
The students were lucky enough to see bison, deer and prairie dogs out on the plains. Can you imagine back before Colorado was a state, when there were thousands of bison covering the plains?
The students were able to see the endangered Black Footed Ferret, the arsenal has 2 captive ferrets that they take care of. Ferrets sleep during the day, so the students truly saw a rare sight when one of the ferrets came out to see us.
Black Footed Ferrets were thought to be extinct at one point. After they were rediscovered, there have been many conservation efforts made to reintroduce them back to the wild.
Students were able to learn about the history of the Arsenal at the Visitor Center. There, they explored and even dressed up!
Before lunch, the students played a game outside, where they learned how wildlife need an assortment of resources in order to survive.
After lunch, the students worked together at a team to put together a real bison skeleton.
The SOLE Program would like to thank the Pennock Staff and the Arsenal staff and volunteers for making this field trip a grand success!
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Arrive at Pennock Rendezvous
December 21, 2016
Just before Winter Break, the fourth graders at Pennock Elementary had a Rendezvous to celebrate and learn more about the fur trade and mountain men in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife Staff and History Colorado joined in on the fun by presenting different lessons.
The students made their own tacking guides as they learned how important it was for mountain men to know animal signs.
The Beaver was the most important animal for mountain men. Students got to dress up as a beaver to better understand all the adaptations that they have in order to survive.
Students had hands on experience with mining for… chocolate chips? Yes, students had to mine out the chocolate chips from their cookie. They learned how delicious… I mean destructive mining can be.
Looking at the map of Colorado, students saw how people came to the State and why they stayed.
Pennock students had a blast at the Rendezvous and they learned a huge amount about the mountain man way. Thanks to Steve Luebke from History Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Staff and the Pennock Staff for hosting this fun day!
Pennock Goes Bird Banding at Barr Lake State Park
September 30, 2016
Looking out upon Barr Lake, Pennock Elementary students gasped with excitement at the variety of birds. Gulls soared overhead, killdeer danced through the sand, and pelicans drifted lazily across the water. Down the trail, woodpeckers drummed and blue jays cackled. With wide eyes and open ears, even beginners can learn birding skills with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies!
Viewing birds from afar was an incredible experience for these young birders. A vast array of information can be collected from visual observation, but what else can we learn about these spectacular creatures?
Beneath the nearby trees, an expert biologist held a small yellow bird within her hands. Experienced organizations catch the birds in a fine mist net and record information at a nearby banding station. With keen eyes and steady hands, the biologist banded the bird with a tiny silver bracelet. The number on this bracelet allows people to track the places this little bird has been!
After measuring the bird’s sex, age, size, weight, and overall health, it was time for our feathered friend to resume its day. “You have one simple job,” the biologist told a student, who eagerly held her hands outstretched. “Do nothing.” She placed the tiny bird within the student’s hands, and off it flew!
The biologist beamed with excitement as she studied the next bird in line. Her enthusiasm radiated among the group when she realized this was no ordinary visitor. It was a Magnolia Warbler! This species is at home in the east; it is rarely found here in Colorado.
This little warbler traveled an incredible distance to get to Barr Lake. In order to understand the challenges birds face, students transformed into birds themselves and tried to migrate south through the obstacle course. Buildings and feral cats were just some of the obstacles students practiced avoiding. Migration sure isn’t as easy as it looks!
Moments like these- the smiling faces, exciting science, and inspired kids- is why SOLE exists. Thank you to Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and Barr Lake State Park for sharing this experience with our Pennock Elementary students.
Thank you to Pennock staff as well! We’re looking forward to another great school year!