DAILY NEWS photo courtesy of Jane Frye
Worland High School students in Tim Barrus’ science classes pause during their trip to Yellowstone National Park to enjoy the scenery at Storm Point overlooking Yellowstone Lake near Indian Point. From left are Jessa Clark, Josh Miller, Carsen Balaszi, Nick Padilla, Manny Munoz, Reese Angal, Braydon Lucas, Jessica Costalez, Johnny Barr and Landon Workman. In front are Jesse Groesbeck, Dane Christoffersen, Shelby Reed, Savannah Williams, Barrus and bus driver Pete Widman.
NEWS photo courtesy of Tim Barrus
Josh Miller enjoys a hike while in Yellowstone Park on a field trip with science teachers Tim Barrus and Jane Frye and several science students.
hit the trail for science
By Jeanette Johnson
WORLAND – No matter how many times a person visits Yellowstone
National Park, there’s always something new to see. It’s one of
the reasons why Worland High School science teacher Tim Barrus has
taken a group of students for the past five years.
For some of the travelers, it’s their first time to see the wonders Wyoming has to offer.
They stayed at Northwest College field station one night and spent two nights at Dead Indian Pass. The Beartooth Mountains beckoned before heading into Yellowstone the second day. At the top of the pass, they studied glacial fissures and took in the beauty from Pilot and Index Peak.
Each student was assigned a project to study. There was the experiment by a physics student using the sunlight to calculate the height of a bridge based on the time it took a rock to hit the bottom.
They were able to see animals along the way, including hearing an elk bugling before they got to the park. At Cooke City, Montana, spotting scopes and binoculars helped them see mountain goats.
Hiking was part of the regimen. The experienced hikers had no problems. Others yielded to the trek. It didn’t prevent them from looking at petrified trees and lava floes.
Indian Pass after dark had them stargazing at the sky at altitudes more conducive to seeing the lights, a venture that impressed the astronomy students.
Geology, zoology and animal projects as well as earth science were done along the way.
With the aid of an infrared thermometer, they were able to take readings of hot spots at the geysers and hydrothermal fissures. Temperatures of several different mud pots and fumerols were documented.
Traveling down to the mud flats where the wild animals wander through and leave footprints, a physics experiment was done using biology formulas to calculate how fast the animals were moving.
Now that they’re back, each student will prepare a presentation for a school board meeting.
Barrus hopes to incorporate more math and history in future trips, bringing a history teacher to get the information.
Barrus, who grew up in Cody, has spent a lot of time in the park and wants his students to enjoy the experience. His interest in getting the class started when he was teaching about volcanoes.
“I remember doing a survey in class,” he said.
He asked how many of the students had been to the park. Out of 20, only two or three raised their hands.
“I’m thinking, ‘Wow. You live that close and don’t take advantage of it.’”
That piqued his interest in finding ways to get the trips started. He inquired about funding. Mary Krisko, who was the grant writer for the district at the time, told him she thought she could put some money together.
“We try to do something different every year,” he said. “We keep them busy.”
The “we” he’s talking about this year is co-science teacher Jane Frye. The kids were wakened at 6 a.m. and called it a day at 11 p.m. They were equipped with backpacks with GPS, iPads and cameras.
Over the years, the department has built up its own equipment.
“We used to have barely nothing,” Barrus said.
The binoculars were added this year. Spotting scopes arrived last year.
Barrus’ goal is to make the trip fun. It’s a challenge to take them out of other classes.
“But think of what’s taken home,” he said. “How many worksheets do you remember from school? This will stay with them the rest of their life. Wyoming is such a huge outdoor classroom. Why teach them out of a textbook what’s already here and witness for themselves?”
He wants his charges to have a meaningful experience. Reese Angal, who has a fascination for wolves, received a thrill of a lifetime when they saw the animals with the spotting scope.
“It made her trip,” he said.
Students who have been on the trip previously talk to Barrus about their experiences.
“Would they have remembered it from a textbook? Maybe.”
He enjoys seeing the excitement on their faces.
“I think it’s a true blessing being a teacher and sharing it,” he said.
The field trip is open on a first come first served basis and slots fill rapidly. Students in science, zoology, field zoology class and the field studies class are quick to sign up.
Continued in today's issue of the DAILY NEWS. Subscribe here
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