Next Generation Science Standards
(NGSS) Activities

Saturn and its beautiful rings


Our indoor Starlab Planetarium provides students a unique model to explore the field of astronomy from a variety of scientific and cultural perspectives. Students will observe and investigate patterns of seasonal change in the night sky, stars and constellations, and the concept of scale and proportion. Additionally, interested students are given the opportunity (weather permitting) to view planets and deep sky objects through the telescopes in Sly Park’s Observatory.
A young girl prepares to attempt the climbing wall

Challenge Wall

Our indoor climbing wall offers three different routes of varying difficulties, which allow students to personally challenge themselves and cultivate opportunities for social and emotional growth. Sly Park teachers, along with visiting teaching staff, facilitate relationship-centered learning that leads to a richer student experience and strengthens group dynamics.
An orange salamander

Creek Ecology

During this activity, students engage in exploratory scientific investigation of a riparian ecosystem and its watershed. Students will learn the use of various sampling techniques, to collect benthic macroinvertebrates and other organisms. Through student based inquiry, they will study the structure and functions of riparian organisms with an emphasis on what role they may play in determining the overall health of an ecosystem, as well as the impacts humans can have on the environment.
A pair of marhmallows are roasted over a campfire

Evening Programs

Sly Park’s evening programs provide a campus-wide opportunity for all students to engage in several community-based activities. These activities allow multiple avenues for students to develop relationships and a sense of belonging at Sly Park and in their home classrooms. These experiences help foster a positive climate and culture at Sly Park and leave students with a more enriching experience. The evening programs are as follows: Community Games, Song Night, Science Carnival, and the Eco Show.
A boy enjoys the serenity of the forest

Forest Ecology

Through hands-on learning and sensory awareness activities, students will investigate riparian and mixed conifer forest ecosystems. Inquiry-based activities provide opportunities to discover and explore the interactions of abiotic and biotic components of a forest. Students will also develop an awareness of the connection humans have to forest ecosystems.
A ladybug crawls over a young investigator's hand

Invertebrate Investigations

During this activity, students engage in exploratory scientific investigation of a forest ecosystem. Students will learn the use of various sampling techniques, to collect terrestrial invertebrates and other organisms. Through student-based inquiry, they will study the structure and functions of organisms in relation to the importance of biodiversity, nutrient cycling and energy flow in an ecosystem.
Wildflowers along Jenkinson Lake

Jenkinson Lake

The Lake Hike is a beautiful five-mile round-trip hike through Eldorado National Forest, up to the Jenkinson Lake Group Camp areas and Crystal Cove.
Multi-colored autumn leaves

Manzanita Hill

The Manzanita Hill hike is our paved one-mile walking path in the Eldorado National Forest. You can collect Sugar Pine cones, watch the energetic squirrels and gaze out over Park Creek canyon. A beautiful and ADA-convenient trail.
An indian shelter covered in snow

Native American Studies

In our Native American Interpretive Center (NAIC), consisting of authentic artifacts paying homage to the various local tribes that once called our region home, students will compare and contrast our modern culture and past Native American cultures, with an emphasis on human impact on the environment. The NAIC offers a variety of hands-on opportunities to explore science and engineering skills through various activities such as principles of fire building (using friction fire starters), arrowhead knapping, acorn grinding, and the use of hand drills.
A night hiker looks up at the Milky Way in wonder

Night Hike

Through an interactive group hike, students will make scientific observations under low-light conditions to explore scientific phenomena related to nocturnal animal adaptations, sensory awareness, astronomy and folklore. Additionally, this activity provides students powerful opportunities for social and emotional growth.
A hand is shown holding a compass against a topographical map


In teams of two or three, students learn to utilize a compass and a GPS unit to cooperatively navigate a course of controlled waypoints. Students will analyze and interpret topographic data and compare their observations of the local landscape as part of an investigative process.
A young girl has facepaint applied to her face


By working through several interactive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) stations, students will engage in various aspects of the Engineering Design Process. Students will also have the opportunity to create a Sly Park silk-screened shirt, a longstanding tradition.
A camper trys her hand at shelter building

Survival by Design

An activity designed to promote team building concurrent with shelter building, student teams design, build, and evaluate an emergency survival shelter. Students use design constraints while considering engineering elements and heat transfer to meet criteria for a successful shelter.
A young girl playfully wears a pair of antlers on her head

Wildlife Ecology

In-depth Wildlife Ecology lessons span creek, forest and field ecosystems and also utilize Sly Park’s Animal Room. In these lessons, students engage in observation and inquiry of living and preserved wildlife specimens in order to understand the complexities of energy transfer through trophic interactions, the relationship between structure and function, and the role that wildlife biodiversity plays in nature. Students will have opportunities through games and hands-on activities to observe, journal, and discuss their findings from a scientific perspective.