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Forest Ecology

2 Class Sessions, 3 Hours

Students hike through the forest to explore and learn about the ecosystems around them. They identify plants, study animals and learn about the impact of forest fires. Hands-on activities teach the history of the forest as ecosystems come alive before their eyes.

What’s Covered

Students embark on an interpretive hike on one of Pali’s many scenic trails through the San Bernardino National Forest. Throughout their hike, students stop to experience the forest using their (5) senses, identify different species of plants and trees and learn about the local ecosystems through visible examples of symbiotic relationships, genetic adaptations and ecological succession.

Lessons & Activities

Interpretive Hike

Students step outside the classroom and into the forest to embark on an interactive hike, pausing frequently to enjoy lessons and activities on forest ecology (such as the ones listed below).

The 5 Senses

Throughout the interpretive hike, students are encouraged to look, listen to, smell, touch and even taste certain elements of the forest, bringing a greater understanding and appreciation for all that nature provides.

Vascular Plants

Students learn about photosynthesis through examining living and dead vascular plants. They may inspect the layers of a cut stump or fallen tree, examining the different layers within and learning their functions while also inferring the tree’s age during its final year of growth.

Tree Identification

Students use a dichotomous key to identify common species of trees of the San Bernardino National Forest, such as the California Black Oak, Douglas Fir and Sugar Pine.

Symbiotic Relationships

Students learn about the different types of symbiotic relationships—mutualism, parasitism and commensalism—and search for evidence of such relationships, such as bark beetle markings in branches, throughout their hike.

Educational Standards

Applicable Common Core/Next Generation Standards:

  • NGSS 4-ESS2-1: Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
  • NGSS-MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
  • NGSS-MS-LS2-3: Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
  • NGSS-5-LS1-1: Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
  • NGSS-5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

Ready to Get Started?

Accelerate your students’ learning with our exciting curriculum. Learn more about this hands-on, experiential education activity today.

Pinecone in foreground with Pali student looking from behind
Raving Reviews

What People Are Saying

I loved my experience at Pali. In my time as an instructor, I was able to develop many skills in the classroom as a teacher and as a leader. I would highly recommend this position for anyone who would like to start a career in the Outdoor Education Industry.

Alicia G., Instructor

Thank you so much for an incredible week. The kids are jazzed; parents are more jazzed. Your team is incredible, and the planning and execution for a top notch science/outdoor education/leadership camp is celebrated. We are so glad we found you.

Danielle V., Teacher

Impressive! This is our first time to Pali. I have taken students to four other SoCal science camps and I would highly recommend Pali and plan to return next year.

Janice K., Educator

Source: Yelp