Steamboat Springs Skiing may be a hobby for many residents and tourists in Steamboat, but middle school students found out on Tuesday that there's a lot to be learned from the mountains that surround the Yampa Valley.
On an educational-based outing, eighth-graders had the opportunity to learn about the history of Mount Werner and Howelsen Hill, as well as prominent athletes who have hailed from Steamboat.
Lara Craig, eighth-grade English teacher, said giving children the chance to ski or snowboard while cherishing their surroundings is important for "place-based education."
"Sometimes you don't realize how wonderful it is until you leave. I don't want kids to never understand how great it is," Craig said of Steamboat Springs.
Place-based education gives students the chance to gain a love for the community and helps them better understand where they live, Craig said.
Students suited with ski gear donated from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. gathered their skis, poles, boots and boards for a scavenger hunt that led them to trivia questions about runs, lifts and the people they are named after.
Ski poll Some of the trivia questions asked of students included: Name three runs named after three famous Steamboat skiers. What is the name of the lift that was previously located here (Storm Peak lift)? Where was Four Points lift originally located? What kind of lift was the first lift at Mt. Werner and how long was it? Check out the answers to these trivia questions at the bottom of the online version of this story at: www.steamboatpilo...
Students received one question at the bottom of four different lifts. They could try to answer questions as they rode up the mountain, but if they couldn't, the answers were waiting at the top.
"It's planned as an educational/experience day. Everyone has the opportunity to appreciate their community. We didn't want to exclude anyone," Marcia Martin, place-based facilitator for the Steamboat Springs School District, said of the 157 eighth-graders who attended the outing.
Preceding the day at the mountain, students watched a film, "The Treacherous and Speedy Skee," to attain more knowledge of the history of skiing in Steamboat. With a questionnaire, they answered questions ranging from why people started skiing to what tribe of Native Americans first settled in the area.
Martin said the place-based education program originated about three years ago through grant money from the Yampa Valley Legacy, forming the Yampa Valley Legacy Education Initiative.
"Teachers have a great deal of freedom" with the activities they can choose to implement a place-based program, Martin said.
For instance, Matt Tredway, sixth-grade science teacher, does many different outdoor education activities throughout the year, being as creative as he wants with the environmental connections he makes.
"We're trying to make things connect by showing them instead of telling them," Tredway said of his science camps, wall-climbing and ice-climbing expeditions. "A lot of the times we overlook the environment we live in."
Although teachers have a wide range of freedom for place-based educational activities, Martin said she gives teachers ideas that will make a good fit with the curriculum, document what has been done for future reference and assess the students' understanding of the lesson.
Steamboat Springs was the first school system in the country to establish downhill and cross-country skiing as a part of the public school curriculum in 1944.
Craig said when she was growing up in Steamboat in the mid-1970s, downhill skiing was accredited as a part of the physical education curriculum.
"Because classes became bigger, it became hard because of logistics and it fell by the wayside," Craig said. "It's been de-emphasized. I think P.E. at the middle school would really like to incorporate downhill skiing" into the curriculum.
Students would no doubt agree that skiing and its history should be taught on the mountain, at least once, twice or three times a year.
"You're in school, but it relieves a lot of stress," eighth-grader Simon Kassemi said. "It was awesome. I learned a lot about Steamboat's history due in part to Miss Craig."
Kassemi and classmate Kristyn Bradbury said they would like to get a job in the community or learn about the various artists in the community.
"It was fun. You got to ski with all your friends. Every lift you go up and you see everyone," Bradbury said.
Craig said ski corp.'s generosity gave the school 38 passes with snowboard and ski equipment and 10 snowboarding lessons for those needing a little help.
"We really appreciate that they gave these kids a chance to participate," Craig said. "This went over so well. We'd like to continue this every year."
The growing excitement for outdoor educational activities, Martin said, is giving students context for their learning a way to learn without the restraints of a classroom.
"Good education takes place outside of the school's walls," Martin said. "It's more real and much more motivating."
Answers to the Ski Poll are:
1. The three runs named after three famous Steamboat skiers are Buddy's Run, Nelson's Run and Rudy's Run.
2. The name of the lift previously located at the Storm Peak lift was WJW named after William Jared Werner.
3. Four points lift originally was located on Nelson's Run.
4. The first lift at Mount. Werner was the Poma lift and it was 2,200 feet long.