| Children innately want to be outside
Diablo Nature Adventures field trips further these instincts through engaging hands-on age-appropriate guided outings.
Now scheduling trips for the 2015-16 school year!
Life Lessons in Nature’s Classroom
More strongly than ever we adhere to the belief with which we initiated our programs years ago that meaningful education for children in the 21st century must include regular experiences in the out-of-doors. We face a devastating loss of ecosystem functionality in this century so an understanding of Nature’s processes, an appreciation for its complexity and beauty and a willingness to practice conservation will come about only if we expose today’s children to multi-sensory sensitively-guided experiences outside.
We teach the only language that is truly universal i.e. ecology. Regardless of one’s gender, ethnic or economic background, all are bound by the rules of Nature and these rules are explained by the science of ecology. Whether one pursues biotechnology, medicine, economics or some other field, in designing products (cures, laws), the creator must realize that he/she cannot change just one thing because everything is intricately connected.
DNA teacher-naturalists help children learn to read landscapes and observe their components closely. Because our programs are relevant to their lives, occur at exciting park locations and are led by knowledgeable and capable guides, they touch the heart as well as the mind of each student. “Best Field Trip Ever!” are words we frequently hear at the conclusion of a program as students leave with smiles on their faces and warm hugs for their naturalist teachers. They can’t wait to return to the state park. From adults we hear words like “You had the children so engaged!” or “We love your programs and will see you next year!”
Colleges and universities have begun offering classes in sustainability and green technology. Our programs motivate and prepare students for careers in such fields. Our classes are taught as if the future mattered and children learn that they have a role in achieving a healthy future. We want our students to have the question “What would Nature do” always in mind before acting. Learning about nature, besides being fascinating and fun during engaging field trips, empowers students to live more harmoniously and less wastefully on Earth.
Without an understanding of the importance of relationships among living things in Nature (e.g. plants and pollinators) the loss of honeybees is of little concern and the explanation of the differences between the pictures to the right remains elusive.
MAP OF MT. DIABLO STATE PARK and SHELL RIDGE
NATURE ADVENTURES MAKES
INCORPORATING ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE CLASSROOM
Diablo Nature Adventures
(DNA) offers educational field trips for students in grades K-12 featuring the cultural and natural history of the Diablo Region. Field trips take place at various locations in Mt. Diablo State Park and other open space areas. Hands-on, interactive learning experiences are guided by competent, creative and enthusiastic naturalists. All programs teach the principles of ecology and have a strong land stewardship emphasis. Thousands of students have enjoyed these unique field trips during the past 20 years. They link well with State Content Standards. All programs last approximately 3 ½ hours.
MT. DIABLO STATE PARK PROGRAM LOCATIONS
Mitchell Canyon is now a venue for our educational nature outings. All programs available at other sites can be taught here. In addition, we offer our aquatic program, The Usual Suspects, here. Located in Clayton, Mitchell Canyon is easily accessible particularly for schools in the eastern and northern parts of Contra Costa County. Mitchell Canyon is the site of the Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association’s visitor center and native plant garden, has excellent picnicking facilities and restrooms. Unlike our other teaching sites, Mitchell Canyon has both creek and pond environments. There are stunning vistas and a diversity of plant communities.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
This program is an introduction to aquatic ecosystems. Creeks and ponds will be compared as watery environments. The concept of a watershed will be presented. Students will view macroinvertebrates of a pond and learn about the vertebrate animals that live in, on or around it. This great program fosters systems thinking. Its engaging experiences encourage gentleness in Nature and careful observation of even the tiniest of living organisms. Engaging field experiences bring alive textbook terms like water cycle, adaptation, habitat and metamorphosis.
Plants, invertebrates and the relationships between them in Nature are at the heart of this program. Students will be introduced to the oak woodland as one of California’s key habitat areas. They will be able to identify the 5 different California oaks of the teaching site by their leaves and will learn the importance of leaves to photosynthesis. Flower parts and their functions will be introduced in a separate activity and students will participate in a pollination game. The latter fosters an understanding of the precise relationships between plants and their pollinators. Students will apply the knowledge gained during a treasure walk featuring plants and invertebrates of the oak woodland of Rock City.
OPTIONAL PROGRAM VARIATIONS:
- Skins, skulls and wildlife adaptations
- Astounding migrations of birds and insects and the
their need for healthy habitats along the way
- Adaptations and habits of birds of the state
park coupled with a nest-making activity
- Tarantulas, an introduction to the lifestyle of these important state park denizens
STRUCTURES FOR SURVIVAL IN A HEALTHY ECOSYSTEM
FROM THE EDUCATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT INITIATIVE STD. 3.3A
In this unit, students learn ways in which species use their physical structures to support the process of their life cycle, including growth, reproduction, and survival. They locate California habitats and identify physical structures that help organisms survive in those habitats. They compare plant life in two different habitats to determine if a plant’s physical structure will ensure its survival. Later, they investigate the role of a healthy ecosystem in an animal’s survival, examine how the growth and reproduction of flowering plants affect the survival of plants and animals, and plan a hummingbird habitat, using the knowledge they’ve gained from the unit and specific information about hummingbird needs and potential items to include their gardens.
OTHER DIABLO NATURE ADVENTURE STATE EEI STANDARD CORRELATIONS
The Earth Rocks is a key component of On the Rocks at Rock City (2.3 a. & b.) Fossils are studied here as clues to past environments and indicators of change through time.
California Indian life is explored in On the Rocks and at the summit of Mt. Diablo during High Definition Geography. Here also students have an incredible opportunity to learn about landforms, see how different types of maps present information and understand first-hand the geography of where they live. Our theme for this program is Geology influences geography and geography influences culture.
The subject of water is of special interest to all of us at DNA. Our program at Mitchell Canyon, The Usual Suspects, focuses on aquatic biology. We believe it is crucial that all understand how water flows in nature and how it has been managed. We are happy to provide a comprehensive coverage of the subject of watersheds, the organisms of freshwater areas, groundwater concerns and even practical solutions to the new “spread it - sink it” paradigm for cities. Ask us about this…..
We have always been happy to customize our programs to meet the curriculum goals and special needs of our loyal teachers.
HIGH DEFINITION (HD) GEOGRAPHY
Where better to study geography than from the summit of the East Bay’s tallest peak, Mt. Diablo. Students learn how the Diablo Region landscape has changed from dinosaur times to the present. The program theme is: Geology dictates geography and geography shapes culture. Students learn the terms for many types of landforms while observing examples in the landscape as seen from atop the 3849’ peak. After an introduction to the state park’s Franciscan rocks, students work with partners to identify these same rocks in formation during an engaging game on the Fire Interpretive Trail. Maps of various types are used to reinforce the places and landforms described.
SET IN STONE
SUMMIT TO ROCK CITY - (HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE) - GEOLOGY AND
ECOLOGY - 4 HOURS (9 AM SUMMIT-
1 PM ROCK CITY)
Time is the essence for Set in Stone. Students make
a trek through geological time that begins at the top
of Mt. Diablo where they study the Park's oldest rocks
and the role of plate tectonics in shaping the mountain.
They ride the bus to Sunset picnic area where they have
an early lunch to prepare them for the next leg of their
200 million year journey down the mountain from past
to future. After leaving Rock City the group crosses
the area of the Mt. Diablo Thrust Fault and learns about
unconformities. Stops at a Turritella Fossil display
and at wind caves follow. After learning how the wind
caves were formed the group arrives at Rock City where
their bus awaits. Breathtaking views of the Mountain's
diverse topography and varied plant communities add
to an already enriching day.
Also available for non school groups.
SHELL RIDGE OPEN SPACE AREA
THE SANDS OF TIME
Sands of Time takes place in the 2,500 acre Shell Ridge
Open Space Area. Students are introduced to the fossils
of Shell Ridge and what they reveal about long ago landscapes
there. Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks are
defined and local samples are handled by the youngsters.
Students perform a play that explains the formation
of Mt. Diablo and the surrounding foothills. Map skills
are a part of the program. A nature hike emphasizes
the flora and fauna of the grassland and oak woodland
communities of the area and reveals how water has shaped
the land. Change through time is an important theme
and the study site is a great place to introduce geographic
terms to the youngest students.
Jan Knecht is a veteran teacher. Having taught more than 30 years in first through fifth grades, she recently retired from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. She brought her second graders so often to explore Mt. Diablo with Judy Adler, that it began to feel like home. She joined the ranks of Diablo Nature Adventures nine years ago when she began teaching half time. She continues to indulge her love of nature and kids by working with Diablo Nature Adventures in the classroom without walls.
Ken Lavin has been a naturalist for Diablo Nature Adventures for over 10 years. He has worked as an interpretive park ranger and consultant for the National Park Service, both in the Marin Headlands and at Muir Woods National Monument, where he served as education coordinator for the park’s curriculum-based school program. Ken is outings and volunteer coordinator for Greenbelt Alliance. He is a featured naturalist on Audio Mount Diablo, a free web-based nature and history tour offered by the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association. Ken may also be heard on the Sierra Club’s web feature, Nature Notes.
Karen Synowiec has been a naturalist with Diablo Nature Adventures for over 10 years. She served as secretary on the Board of Directors for Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA) for 4 years and as hike leader/coordinator for MDIA, leading numerous hikes on Mt. Diablo as well as at Black Diamond Mines and Morgan Territory. Karen recently retired from her position as a hydrogeologist with Chevron Corporation where she worked for 25 years. In her spare time she loves to hike with friends anywhere
on Mt. Diablo or the Bay Area.
Saundra is our bird enthusiast. When not teaching for Diablo Nature Adventures, she is kayaking to observe birds associated with watery environments, rescuing birds for the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in her backyard aviary or watching them visit her backyard pond. This new water feature is a source of endless fascination for her inquiring mind.
Call or email us for fee information and to schedule a Diablo Nature Adventures field trip.