LS R-7 students experience summer science adventure at Grand Teton-Yellowstone

// Posted By Janie Rohlfing

Group travels to undisturbed wilderness to conduct field biology studies

A group of Lee’s Summit R-7 students and teachers recently returned from a Grand Teton-Yellowstone summer adventure. During the seven-day trip, students studied nature using the same method and procedures as field biologists. Not only did the students have the opportunity to delve into the environmental study, they gained this knowledge and experience while staying in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

During this once-in-a-lifetime trip, students worked in groups to explore the natural world in this biologically diverse and geologically unique area.  Students studied wild animals, flora, lakes, geysers, hot springs, a wolf den and mountain terrain — just to name a few features of the area.

Thirty-three high-school students made the trip and were accompanied by teachers Rachel Backes of Lee’s Summit High School, Kelly Lepert of Lee’s Summit North High School, Chris Gerding of Lee’s Summit North and Victoria Galegor of Lee’s Summit West High School.

The trip was organized by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District through the Grand Teton Science Schools, located in Wyoming. During the adventure, which was July 10-17, students lived in cabins inside the Grand Tetons, working beside professional scientists. The students participated in the nature study as well as leadership and team-building activities, gaining knowledge and maturity during the trip.

“Although we have worked to hire the best teachers, create great facilities and a great curriculum, I feel that students need an experience to draw them to a career in science,” said Frank Vovk, R-7 science curriculum specialist for grades 7-12. “No one chooses to spend eight years in college in a very difficult field unless they have had an experience which led them to believe it is all worth it. We also believe that science is an activity and want to take advantage of mimicking that activity as much as possible.”

Few people have the opportunity to work this closely with undisturbed wilderness while practicing science like a professional scientist, added Mr. Vovk.

The trip is also beneficial for the school district’s science teachers since the four participating teachers will be sharing their experiences with their students as well as their fellow educators.

The trip is funded by the participating students’ families, and cost is $900 for the educational component, transportation, meals, lodging and guides. Plans call for a similar trip to be offered in summer 2017, and students will be receiving additional information during the fall. Eventually, the R-7 Science Department would like to expand the opportunity to middle-school students while expanding the number participating each year.

jlGrandTetonsByMountain jlGrandTetonsByLake jlGrandTetonsGroupLee’s Summit R-7 students during the Grand Teton-Yellowstone summer adventure.

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