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Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

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Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby zwoij » Tue May 24, 2016 6:48 pm

After years of my wife volunteering and subbing, and me serving on the school board, we are making a big change. We will homeschool our two oldest sons, ages 12 and 10. They are smart but bored, and need more of a challenge than our public school can give them.

Since I love the outdoors, especially backpacking, I see an opportunity to instill that same love in them. So their first homeschool unit will be a 3 day trip in the Sierra. We would probably start at the Lakes trailhead at Lodgepole and go off trail to Moose Lake and the Tablelands. If we are feeling energetic enough, we could go on to Tamarack Lake for the second night, or cut over to the Alta trail, but more likely is to spend day two just exploring the Tablelands and not move our campsite. They love off trail travel. When I took them on a short day hike a few years ago my second son said, seeming disappointed, “That’s not what I expected.” I asked him to explain. He thought that when I said we were going to climb a mountain that meant “we would choose a mountain and climb up it.” He finally got his wish last summer with some cross country adventure in the Emigrant Wilderness. He was sure in his element.

Will you help me think of what they can learn in the Sierra and how they can learn it? I have two goals for this trip: 1) That they get addicted to backpacking; 2) That they learn.

Here are some ideas I have about things they can learn and how they can learn them.

• Topography. Identify a moraine, ridge, cirque, col, pass, arête, peak, hanging valley, bench. What else?
     o I’m thinking of giving them a bingo card where they can mark the box when they identify the topographical feature.

• Maps, compass, routefinding.
      o Learn by doing. They can help choose our route to Moose Lake and beyond.

• Botany. Identify trees, plants (especially edible ones), and flowers.
      o We could post pictures here and you smart people can tell us if they are correct in their identifications.

• Biology. They like to catch and eat fish. I’d like the to learn to identify them and something about the ecosystem they live in.
     o Identifying fish is easy. I don’t know about the connected ecosystem though.

• Photography. Composition, lighting, etc. This would help me a lot too.
      o Their talented grandfather can give a lesson. Then we can post some pictures here for your helpful critique and comment.

• Literature (and history). Read selections of Muir, Twain, etc. I just found A Treasury of the Sierra Nevada on amazon. Would anyone recommend that or another book with selections on the Sierra or other backpacking?
     o I might have them write something about their experience. A trip report for HST?

• Math. Distance, elevation calories, quantity and value of gold in the Sierra. It needs to be interesting.
      o ?

• Art.
      o Draw a landscape, plant, or fish. Not my strong suit!

- Technology
      o ?

What ideas do you have about what they can learn and how they can learn it? If you have any materials or resources, I’m happy to steal what you’ve got. This is already more than enough for 3 days, which is fine. We'll just have to go again.

Thanks!
Last edited by zwoij on Fri May 27, 2016 11:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby ERIC » Tue May 24, 2016 7:54 pm

Congrats! I think that's really cool you're taking that step. You know another well-known HST member did the same - Buck Forester (aka Brain Ernst). Consequently it's allowed him time and opportunity to develop a viral YouTube channel titled "Gabe and Garret" about his kids' adventures.

But the best part about responding to your post is I'm going to beat markskor to the punch... Lesson No. 1. It's "Sierra", never "Sierras". :p
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby zwoij » Tue May 24, 2016 10:09 pm

ERIC wrote: Lesson No. 1. It's "Sierra", never "Sierras". :p


When I speak Spanish, which I do regularly, I would only say Sierra. In English, it doesn't matter, except to the purists, who I am happy to annoy. :)

How about helping me teach my boys about the Sierras Nevadas Mountainses?
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby rlown » Wed May 25, 2016 11:22 am

zwoij wrote:• Literature (and history). Read selections of Muir, Twain, etc. I just found A Treasury of the Sierra Nevada on amazon. Would anyone recommend that or another book with selections on the Sierras or other backpacking?


check out the HST library at: http://www.highsierratopix.com/resource ... a-library/
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Tom_H » Wed May 25, 2016 4:12 pm

zwoij wrote:
ERIC wrote: Lesson No. 1. It's "Sierra", never "Sierras". :p


In English, it doesn't matter, except to the purists, who I am happy to annoy. :)


If you want to teach your children effectively, lesson 2 is to change that particular attitude.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby maverick » Wed May 25, 2016 4:31 pm

p. 83, Ansel Adams, An Autobiography:

The name Sierra is already a plural. To add an s is a linguistic, Californian, and mountaineering sin.


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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby zwoij » Wed May 25, 2016 6:36 pm

rlown wrote:check out the HST library at: http://www.highsierratopix.com/resource ... a-library/


Thanks, that's helpful. Hadn't come across that yet. HST has quite the collection of wisdom.

As to Sierra/Sierras, I had actually never thought about it. I'm used to the Cascades in plural. I was surprised at the quickness of the corrections. It must truly be a mountaineering sin.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby rlown » Wed May 25, 2016 7:05 pm

technology: The best skill I learned in high school was how to type (not hunt and peck). Also, they should learn tools like MS Word, Excel. Inject other technologies as appropriate as a learning step towards an outdoor project.

I'm sure you're read the Survival thread. It's helpful. I would throw navigation with map, compass and setting up a route on paper and a GPS just to learn what they do.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby rlown » Wed May 25, 2016 7:25 pm

History:

A lot of great people associated with the Sierra listed there.
Check out memberlist.php?mode=group&g=10

Each figure has a link to more information on the group or individuals.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby dave54 » Thu May 26, 2016 8:08 am

Start now. Have them read up on the history of the area, from geologic history, to native American use of the area, to the settlement period and the origin of place names, to modern history and current land use issues.

Have them help plan the logistics, from the buying of supplies, the itinerary, the driving route to the trailhead, and track costs.

The Rocky Mountains are colloquially called the Rockies and the Cascade Range is called the Cascades. Sierras is OK with everyone except a few purists.

Besides, there are three Sierra Nevada Ranges that I know of, could be more. A purist would insist on identifying which Sierra Nevada.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby markskor » Thu May 26, 2016 8:27 am

dave54 wrote:Sierras is OK with everyone except a few purists.

Sorry, not OK with the locals here (who, BTW, are not pure in any sense of the word). Interesting that you can so easily defend your being so egregiously wrong... And this is the kind of lesson you are going to teach in your school?
Maybe should stay in the Cascades?
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Jimr » Thu May 26, 2016 8:49 am

Math:
Have them do an orthographic profile of proposed route or section of route by hand. A good charting and graphing exercise. By hand means with pencil, graph paper, something to measure squiggly trail lines. Label a major feature or two. Calculate proposed time to complete that section based on average speed formula of 2 mph + 1 hr for each 1,000 ft of elevation gain. Then you can play with calories of energy, etc. Have them track time data and mark on map during hike, then compare time to calculated time using the average formula. After a few of these, if their speed deviates much from the formula results, have them tweak the formula to see if they can come up with a personal speed formula.
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