Tag Archives | Water Wonders


Water: A Natural History – book review by Ikwe Mennen

Water: A Natural History, by Alice Outwater,  is a thorough guide to how humans have dismantled the fragile water systems of the land, and has added so much more depth to my Water Wonders classes. Our class Water Wonders, one of my favorite classes to teach, contains not only basics about the water cycle, where […]


Can A Formula Predict Floods? – Anne Sweney

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.” –Tony Hillerman For people living in climates that are dry and arid, understanding the water cycle is necessary. California has such extremes in weather, ranging from wild fires and droughts to flooding. While it […]


Replenishing the Water Cycle – Kevin Williams

Did you know the scientific term for the water cycle is the hydrologic cycle? I was on a hike the other day and thought about the apple activity I do during our Water Wonders class to demonstrate how much fresh water is on earth. Using an apple to represent the earth, I cut 30% off […]


Sierra Snowpack Water Facts – Mark Kerstens

Here at High Trails we live and work in the San Bernardino Mountains. While beautiful and incredibly diverse, our local mountains pale in size, height, and snowpack when you compare them to the vastness of the Sierra Nevada in central California. Mountaineers and the adventurous backpacker flock to the Sierra Nevada year round to bag […]


Wastewater: A Field Trip to the Poop Plant – Laura Hughes

Have you ever flushed a toilet or turned on a sink and wondered to yourself, where DOES the water go once it has disappeared from sight? Well, the instructors at High Trails Outdoor Science School were wondering the same thing, so they loaded up into their magical Subaru school busses and headed to the Big […]


El Niño and the San Bernardino Forest – Nick Engler

Unless you live under a rock, you may have heard that in 2015/16 we are supposed to be experiencing an El Niño winter. The term “El Niño” gets tossed around quite a bit and some of us have come to accept it without even fully understanding what it means. For students coming to experience High […]


Waterflies – Stephen Perry

In our Little World class here at High Trails we discuss three types of decomposers: Bacteria, Fungi, and Invertebrates/Scavengers. We do in fact find all sorts of interesting critters, both growing and crawling around the San Bernardino National Forest. However, our mountains are dry, arid, and have few year round water sources. This means there […]

The Martian

Can A Mars Movie Make You A Better Teacher? Arthur Tuttle

In the recent Hollywood blockbuster, The Martian, director Ridley Scott focuses his view on potential living conditions for humans on Mars. The movie follows the Ares III astronaut crew as they explore Mars and take samples for analysis from the red planet. A sudden storm forces evacuation, but one astronaut doesn’t make it to the […]


Can Sunscreen Hurt A Baby Seal? Kelsey Wentling

Like any young person dutifully fulfilling their role as a “20-something,” my car is host to an eclectic mix of random junk. In the front seat alone you will find a smooth, hamburger-sized rock I use to hammer in the stakes of my tent, a nearly spent roll of neon pink duct tape, and a […]


Big Bear Lake Field Trip – Jessica Fangman

These days most of the California population is concerned about water. Are we going to run out? Who is in charge of our water resources? How can we conserve and protect what we have? As for High Trails instructors, we sought to expand our minds and learn more about the the Muncipal Water District, the […]


Can Organic Be A Pollutant? Ivy Price

“Has anyone heard of the word ‘organic’”? I asked my trail group to begin our discussion of pollution in our Water Wonders class. “Yeah! It’s the food my mom buys at the grocery store,” replied one of the students. Though correct, this wasn’t the response I was looking for and made me think about how […]


Can Erosion and Illegal Trails Get Along? – Caroline Blake

At the University of Vermont (UVM), I remember not wanting to walk on the concrete sidewalk between the Student Center and the Library because it was not convenient. Instead, I joined thousands of other students who took the shortcut straight across the grass of the University Green. In time our beautiful green had a noticeable […]


Desalination: Take It with a Grain of Salt – Meagan Gibson

Being a Southern California native, it has always seemed ironic that California can be next to such a large body of liquid yet still lack access to reliable drinking water. When I ask students why water is important during our Water Wonders class, they always understand right away. We need it to drink, to grow […]


California’s Faucets – Anne Schuschke

Since moving from Montana this last fall, I have witnessed rain once and a spitting of snow three other times. It is dry here. At High Trails, we live in an interesting ecosystem: a high desert. This lack of rain got me thinking about where water in Southern California comes from. You see, Montana, my […]


Xeriscaping: No Water No Problem – Christine Wheaton

Southern California has just finished its driest year on record. The National Weather service reported that Los Angeles received only 3.49 inches of rainfall between January 1 and December 18, 2013, the lowest amount since records started being collected in 1877. 1 This drought is especially concerning because, here in the south part of the […]


The Wave Of The Future – Rachael Blustein

Before arriving at High Trails, I worked for the Philadelphia Water Department and The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory. These experiences have exerted a gravitational pull on me to everything and anything that pertains to water. Living in a society that seems to circle around problems, like an endlessly rotating merry go round; I strive to […]


Where Does Our Water Come From – Kate Samp

One question I always ask my students during our Water Wonders class is; “Where does our water come from?” Some students initially respond with; “The faucet!” or, “A lake!” but when I probe them further they answer with, “The Colorado River.” And, for the majority of our students, this is true. But, my favorite response […]

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