Mount St. Helens High School STEM Field Study

In order to provide opportunities for students to gain real-word experience and insights into scientific/technical careers, this program provides students with project-based learning through ecological research conducted alongside Mount St. Helens scientists in the field. The volcano is a unique outdoor classroom and laboratory for studying the response of aquatic and terrestrial systems. Student experiences are further enhanced by the opportunity to conduct comparisons along a gradient of disturbance from the 1980 eruption overlain by a variety of post-eruption timber management regimes (cut prior to 1980, salvage logged and replanted).

Students work side-by-side with Mount St. Helens scientists and land managers to collect data, develop a question, enter and analyze the data. Students then prepare a poster presentation and meet at Washington State University-Vancouver to present their results to other students and to scientists, land managers and educators from the community. This is an on-going project with permanent research plots. Data are available from each study year.

Lessons include:

  • Introduction to Field Studies
  • Ecological response to 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
  • Vegetation and Aquatic Sampling Protocols
  • Developing a Research Question
  • GPS use and Google Mapping (pending)
  • Leave No Trace ethic in Science
  • Field-based data collection
  • Data Entry and Analysis using Excel
  • Presentation Development and Public Speaking

For more information, contact

Participating Schools: Castle Rock High School, Toutle Lake High School, Wahluke High School, iTech Prep, Centralia High School, and CASEE (Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education).

Partnering Organizations include: Mount St. Helens Institute, Washington STEM, USFS Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station, Washington State University-Vancouver, World Forestry Institute, ALS Global, Vernier Software and Technology, Pacific Education Institute, Chevron, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the Weyerhauser Family Foundation.


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