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Earth Systems Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone (At Your School)

Ongoing | Ages 10-14 | $450/class (up to 30 students); $375 for add'l classes


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The three fun and sometimes messy classes in the Earth System Science STEM Workshop focus on the complex relationships between geology, wildfires, snow, ice and climate that impact the Earth System and Colorado’s water supply. During this intensive hands-on workshop, teachers and students will rotate through these three, standards-driven, interconnected workshops:

Foundations for Flow: Using stream tables, models and new specialized materials, students and teachers will re-create Colorado Mountains from the bedrock up and wear them down with constructive and destructive forces over time. They will see our geological past in a new way; learn about erosion, deposition, plate tectonics, faults, hydrology; and use ice, snow and water to create snowfields, glaciers, streams, rivers and the watersheds we see today.

Key Concepts: Plate Tectonics, Colorado Geologic History, Erosion, Deposition

Fire and Water: Using computer models and hands-on experiments, students and teachers will explore the relationships between ecosystems, wildfires, soils and water quality. They will learn about recent wildfires, fire safety and prevention, how to predict fire intensity, and conduct experiments to help understand how wildfires impact soils, erosion water quality and storage.

Key Concepts: Forest and Fire Ecology, Soils, Erosion, Water Quality


Ice, Snow and H2O: This chilly session focuses on how weather, climate, snow and ice impact Colorado’s water supply. Teachers and students will create and conduct experiments with glacial ice, and use measurements and math to understand the relationship between glaciers, snowpack and our water supply. They will compare and contrast weather data and snow tubes to solve a mystery, and play a fun game to understand how Earth System Interactions supply year-round water to Colorado.

Key Concepts: Watersheds, Snowpack, Weather, Climate, Stream Flow, Density


  • STEM Workshops can accommodate one or up to three full classes (90 students).
  • The Science Discovery team will arrive at your school the evening before, or early the morning of programs to set up an extensive set of teaching materials and activities
  • The workshop can run in a single, or multiple classrooms
  • One class, Foundation for Flow, is best suited for an uncarpeted room with access to water
  • Ideally, two and three-class workshops will have access to an auditorium or multipurpose room for a group introduction and wrap-up activities
  • Programming can accommodate full-day and period-based schedules with three 45-75 minute classes
  • Sample Schedule (75-minute classes):
    • 9-9:30am: Introduction
    • 9:45-11am: Class One
    • 11-11:45am: Lunch
    • 11:45am-1pm: Class Two
    • 1-1:15pm: Break
    • 1:15-2:30pm: Class Three
    • 2:30-3pm: Wrap-Up

For additional information or to begin planning your CU Science Discovery program, please contact Hester Nadel via email or by calling 303.492.8640.