PEEC Earth Day Series: Pajarito Plateau Field Science Is Happening Right Outside Your Door!

Mountain students doing field studies at Fenton Lake. Photo by Angelique Harshman
Pajarito Plateau Field Science Is Happening Right Outside Your Door!
By ANGELIQUE HARSHMAN, PEEC Education Programs Director

It’s that time of year again–time to get outside and explore the world of nature out our back door. Last fall, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) completed its Pajarito Plateau Field Science (PPFS) curriculum (funded by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation and the Albert I. Pierce Foundation) for grades K – 6. Each grade has six lessons and starts with a scavenger hunt.

Lessons were designed to introduce students to the natural areas around their schools while incorporating New Mexico State Performance Standards, several of the proposed Next Generation Science Standards and some Common Core standards in literacy and math. Kindergarten through 5th grade students at our two pilot schools, Aspen and Chamisa, participated in the first two or three lessons lead by a PEEC educator.

Sixth grade students at Aspen, Chamisa, and Mountain participated in a PEEC-led field trip to Fenton Lake, incorporating all six lessons. Students loved getting outside to explore and the teachers were impressed with how easy the lessons were to teach.

Recently grades K – 5 at both pilot schools received their PPFS supply trunks so that teachers can teach the last few lessons from this curriculum. Barranca, Mountain, and Pinon teachers can arrange to check out a grade K – 5 supply trunk from PEEC. And Barranca and Pinon 6th grade classes can also participate in the Fenton Lake field trips.

Some of the highlights of the K – 6 lessons include finding shapes in nature, observing ants up close, using geologists’ tools like rock hammers, collecting macro-invertebrates (visible insects like dragonfly larva) from mountain streams, conducting experiments on soil, creating poems about nature, and investigating plants and their parts.

So if you see students out and about on the playgrounds and trails around the elementary schools this spring, often with clipboards in hand, they are probably investigating this great place we live on called the Pajarito Plateau. 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories from the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) leading up to its annual Earth Day Festival set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 20at PEEC, 3540 Orange St., in Los Alamos.

This year’s Earth Day Festival will feature displays by community groups of their earth-friendly products and practices and their information about our environment on the Pajarito Plateau.

  • Over 20 booths
  • Food vendors
  • Live entertainment by Clan Tynker and the Hill Stompers
  • Kids activities, including “Walk Like a Wolf”, the “Mudpie Kitchen” and making miniature adobes with the Cornerstones Community Partnership.

Important Update: Park at Sullivan Field and ride a free Atomic City Bus to Saturday’s Earth Day event because LAHS parking lot will be full from three events being held at the school.

For more information about Earth Day, e-mail EarthDay@PajaritoEEC.orgor visit

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