What made Colorado’s 2020 wildfire season such an anomaly? What do you do if you sprain an ankle in the wilderness? Just how much food waste can one pound of worms eat? This spring’s CAP Class at New Vista High School answered all these questions and more!
In one of our first units, students conducted their own investigations to discover just what conditions led this last year to be the most destructive wildfire season on record. We studied the 2002 Hayman fire case (arson! intrigue!) to learn more about how weather and climate patterns impact the spread of forest fires. Students created forests out of matchsticks and lit them ablaze to learn for themselves how the last 100 years of management practices might create forests full of fuel. Lastly, they used what they knew to make their own fires and build models analyzing the connection between climate change, weather patterns, and fire suppression.
Regaled by student stories of adventures gone wrong, another class favorite was definitely our wilderness skills week; from planning the essentials to making their own shelters, students learned about staying safe in the great outdoors. In our closing circle, lots of students recalled laughs from student-stuffed hypothermia burritos and wrapping “broken” legs in sleeping pads during our improvised splint fashion show.
“The entire class was the most memorable thing, coming in everyday and learning new and exciting things that can really help In life such as first aid and what to do in certain situations.” – NVHS CAP Student
Inspired by our discussions of food waste and food security, our class chose to prepare the New Vista garden to feed the community as their Action Project! In an impressive effort, we (with help from some advisory friends) weeded years of overgrowth, fixed up the fence, repaired benches, put up welcome signs and created a garden plan for what we could plant come next spring. Whether they were rehoming gigantic earth worms or smelling leafy lemon balm, every day in the garden brought new surprises as we connected with nature right outside our classroom.
“It’s a super fun class it gets you outside and moving which is something I never thought I would say for school and it also teaches about some pretty big environmental issues.” -NVHS CAP Student
To close out our quarter together and celebrate weeks of hard work, students held a garden party in the gorgeous sunshine, enjoying tea and cookies and handing out pollinator seeds to spread the garden love. Thanks to Spring CAP 2021 for making my first in-person class at New Vista such a blast, and I can’t wait to see you all next year!
Written by CAP Instructor Chelsea Tossing
See more photos from the course HERE!