Visiting teachers select from a wide range of educational offerings at Cal-Wood. Each topic is taught through a variety of creative, discovery-driven activities. For example, a half day forestry lesson might be introduced with an activity like “Build a Tree”, where students act out different parts and functions of a tree. One student might be the heartwood or xylem while another is the phloem or bark or taproot, etc. with accompanying performance of particular body motions and sounds. Bark rubs also effectively introduce forestry. We lay a white sheet of paper against a tree and use a crayon or pencil to rub and capture an artistic representation of bark texture. With students’ interest piqued, we progress to a more academic exploration of the forest.
Dichotomous keys are often employed as scientific tools to distinguish and identify tree species of the Rocky Mountain foothills. Using forestry methods, we can measure the height and diameter of trees and compute their average volume of wood, converting raw material to items known and used, such as paper, furniture and books. Moreover, we commonly “core” trees (taking tiny samples from the trees themselves) to find the age and growth rate/patterns. Mathematically, we determine if a correlation exists between age and volume of a tree. Along the way, we might uncover the land’s history in tree rings, finding evidence of drought, logging, or fire suppression. Finally, we discuss how trees relate to our everyday lives and explore ways by which we can reduce our need for logging – through more efficient use of wood products and paper recycling, for example.