Pioneer Students Hungry for Data… and Hot Dogs!

A student identifies a juvenile bald eagle across the lake. Photo by Kristen Nowicki

The Winter Tracks 2015 season finale began on a sunny beach around 10am, March 6th.

Pioneer School 4th and 5th graders passed 3 pairs of binoculars between the 12 of them, observing the lake perimeter and the wildlife a-flutter with the early season sunshine.

A Great Blue Heron takes to the trees. Photo by Kristen Nowicki

Bald Eagle, Blue Heron, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, American Robin and more were spotted engaging the warm rays of spring along the shoreline of Round Lake.

Skunk Cabagge leaf buds begin to unfurl. Photo by Kristen Nowicki

With the weather of late steadily trending drier and warmer, the students enjoyed easy hiking conditions along the sometimes muddy and boggy wetland habitat transitions along the park’s northeastern section. As they hiked they noticed uprooted trees and pondered on how they came to be, observed songbirds, and learned about North Idaho’s bog-loving plant “Skunk Cabbage,” a particularly odoriferous biological achievement, which pops up early in the spring, even through the snow at times!

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“I found it!”

Through the alders and the cottonwoods, the kids spread out and searched for the generations-tall ‘Grandfather’ spruce tree their monitoring cameras had been affixed to.  The kids were excited to begin using the tools necessary to disassemble the hardware securing the research materials in place.  Taking turns, using safety precautions, and affirming leave-no-trace ethics, the site was quickly taken out and the hungry students eagerly began down the trail back to the warming fire.

A curious onlooker observes the bustling at the research site. Photo by Kristen Nowicki.

After another satisfying lunch cooked over wavelike flames in the stone chimney pavilion by the lake, the students headed up to the log-built porch at the historic Round Lake Visitor Center where the Project Coordinator had readied for the students a projector with the image data from the monitoring camera ready to display on the big screen set-up outside.

The students’ camera captured a beautiful, silver-backed moose.

The students were thoroughly entertained with the moments capture by the motion-sensory camera.  We asked interesting questions about the images, what we did see and what didn’t we see, which inferences we can make about the number of individuals present and which we can’t, and how our data might be different if our camera had bee setup in a totally different location… like say, the wilderness?

After reviewing the data, Kristen brought out Round Lake’s Educational Collection of Pelts they utilize in their educational programming, and played a guessing game with the students to correctly identify each pelts mammalian origin.

The kids love trying to guess ‘whose pelt?’ Photo by Kristen Nowicki

Thank you so much to the students of Pioneer School for all your positive energy and bright observations!  I look forward to seeing Pioneer School next year!!!

Keep Wild!



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  1. Glad to see the moose images and that the kids from the Pioneer School are staying on top of it! The letter they sent me thanking us for the first trip was truly touching, and is now framed on my wall as one of the neatest Thankyou’s ever!-Brian Baxter

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