Denali Science School is a new outreach program coordinated by Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service to get Alaskan elementary school kids outside and learning in Denali National Park! Now in its second year, the Denali Science School has engaged over 500 kids. This year, eight 5th and 6th grade classes spent 2 nights and 3 days in the park. Five of the classes hailed from Title 1 schools, a designation given to schools where many of the students come from low-income households.
The goal of the program is to increase local kids’ awareness of Denali National Park and other public lands in Alaska, introduce them to park science, and to build their scientific literacy with hands-on activities. One of the main strengths of the program is modeling scientific techniques, such as permafrost probing and wildlife tracking using radio collaring technology. Woven through all of the curriculum is an emphasis on climate change, facilitating students to reflect on how climate change is affecting Denali Park, the state of Alaska, and the planet as a whole. Students also get the opportunity to visit the park’s sled dog kennels, meet National Park Service rangers, and hike in the park, all while enjoying games and team-building activities.
Alaska Geographic works hard to ensure that Denali Science School is free to schools other than transportation to, from, and in the park, and on-site food costs. Even the food costs were subsidized this year for groups from Title 1 schools. The program has proven to be a great success, and Alaska Geographic staff members at the Murie Science and Learning Center are already hard at work planning their 2016 Denali Science School programs.
And check out the Fairbanks Daily News Miner’s recent story on the Denali Science School!