The Gregory School spent several days investigating the natural wonders of the ecosystem surrounding us here at Sky School. The following are selections from student reflections that highlight some of their experiences:
My experience at sky school was amazing! I would honestly do it all over again in a second and I’m sad that my time is running out here. My favorite part was probably all of the astronomy we’ve done. I absolutely loved learning about the stars and constellations and being so close made it just that much more amazing. I also really loved making our presentation. Our mentor was very open to ideas and we got to do a lot of really cool things independently. Everyone here is very go-with-the-flow and it makes everything a lot of fun and still very informative. This was truly an incredible experience and I am all for doing this again next year!
It’s been pretty fun here, really. I loved hiking and the echo’s in the canyon. We did a science project on Goose Grass. What makes the sticky plants sticky? We found that you could actually get dermatitis. Gave me a scare there. I liked the dorms despite the fact that it was home to thousands of moths. It was a great bonding experience when all of us came together to catch the moths. It brought out our inner ninja. A few times we found squirrels baby mice and deer. WE also played a game of hot lava. I really like it here. The sunset was beautiful and so was the night sky (except for when we were sleeping because I was afraid of clowns) and so I hope to come again and make it rain pinecones.
The past few days I have been at Sky School. Sky School is a place where one can learn and have fun. I have done a project about the difference in nutrient levels in soil next to a tree and away from a tree. Along with learning about soil, clay, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, testing soils nutrient levels, root balls, and different types of trees, I had fun while doing it and bonded with friends. When I came to sky school I thought it would be a boring all ay school. However, I was very wrong. I really like the idea of having a school outside because one will learn a lot of “school stuff” and they will learn about themselves. I also like the part that I get a lot of exercise here. In fact, yesterday according to my apple watch I was active for 72 minutes, I had 12,216 steps and I burned 552 calories. All in all, I really love Sky School for many reasons.
Sky School has been a blast so far. I was paired wit such a wonderful group and a wonderful leader, AJ, and it has been so much fun. Starting on Day 1 with our first hike, I got to see so many amazing things. Unfortunately, on our night hike, I tripped and re-injured my ankle. But after I fell, my friends helped me the rest of the hike and everyone was very helpful. The next 2 days were hard work but very fun. We got to learn in an environment none of us are used to. Seeing the stars last night was incredible, although it was cold. Today we collected data and created a poster. My team is the Dope Slope Squad and just in the past 3 days, we have bonded so much. Getting to spend time in the wilderness with all my classmates and friends is such a gift. I’m sad to leave but very happy I’ve had this experience with such great people!
Throughout the past 3 days I have spent at sky school we have learned and accomplished many things that I will never forget. For one, we started out the week hiking around the one and only Mt. Lemon. We walked around examining our surrounding and learning more about what is north of our homes. We later started brain-storming ideas about our project. However, unlike most research projects I was able to choose and me and my team chose something that is in the talk with one of the funniest project I have ever done. Our group leader was the funniest coolest chilliest scientist I have ever met. So with that has all been said, I guess you can say this was the coolest interim week trip yet.
Today we awoke to a hearty breakfast. My group and I hiked out to a plot we set up yesterday to test. We strode out to a glade filled with decaying logs and scurrying critters. In due time, the sun warmed up and the results came flowing. WE were testing soil, trees, and even the wind. WE then frolicked to our other plot to test the same ting. The difference was direction the hill was slanted towards the north or the south. We collected that data in sandwiches of cold-cuts and fresh vegetables. After devouring our sandwiches we analyzed our data. Once we had shared our data with our fellow peers we took to making a poster. WE drooled and sweated, shacked and slept until finally we had a tablet of scientific effort. Exhausted and mentally drained we stumbled to the learning center with hope for dinner filled with pleasant surprises.
“We have done lots of lit stuff @ SkySchool. We hiked about 7 miles a day and experimented on lots of thing. I loved waking up to the sweet smell of nature and it was very beautiful. I saw many animals and so many insects. My favorite part was getting to watch the sunset. It was extremely beautiful! The stars were lit + I learned lots about the constellations! I had fun overall! I even got to search 4 ants and test them. I’m glad I came though I wouldn’t go just volunteering. I didn’t like hiking up hill, or how everyone was so overprotective. The food was also good. “
“At SkySchool for the past three days I have had the pleasure to learn about plants, soil insects and so much more as a hands-on experience. I have worked primarily with Noelle and making a presentation in her field with her help. It has been a mind opening experience from hiking during the day to exploring the stars at night through a giant telescope. It has been interesting and fun getting to work with young PhD aspiring people interested in science. I always thought I was never good at science and thought it was boring until now.”
“I wasn’t expecting a vacation but maybe I wasn’t expecting what was coming. It was days packed with a full schedule. There were lots of challenging activities but it was a great alternative to being in the classroom. We hiked and experienced the outdoors while conducting a science experiment on the behavior of ants. We did astronomy without the bright Tucson lights bothering us, giving us an opportunity to see so many galaxies and planets we would never see in the city below. It was strenuous work but it was a fun time at the same time. So tired at the end of the day, we fell asleep right as we fell in bed. Another great addition was the cold weather. Overall, it was a good educational experience.”
“SkySchool is a great place to learn about soil, plants, insect behavior, and the stars in space. I experienced about soil. We compared soil near from trees, and far from trees. Sometimes you would see an earthworm inside the soil. I also learned about how some plants are different by their color and size. Some plants change color depending on the season. Some smell different, like some can smell minty. In the insect behavior I learned on how some insects can be scared and they run away. We found a huge ant pile. They were all worker ants. I also learned that some insects can be under stones or big rocks. From a cool big telescope, we saw Mars, and a mini-dipper. A few stars changed colors. It can get cold sometimes at night. Learning at SkySchool is awesome! J”
“This week I have stayed at SkySchool. We did a lot of super fun things and learned some new information. We went on hikes, looked at the nights sky, found new things, enjoyed cool mountain air, and overall had a great time. We found an interesting plant, known as goosegrass, that has tiny hairs. It sticks to animal fur, as well as clothes. One night, we looked through binoculars and the telescope at the sky. Up on the mountain, you can see so many more stars and constellations than you could in the city. We got to see Mars, the 7 Sisters, Andromeda, and a lot of other cool things. We also got to see the moon rise, which looked really beautiful that night. When hiking, we got to sit on a rock overlooking the valley and Tucson. At night, we got to take a night hike, and saw the city lights. We also saw some birds and other small wildlife, such as squirrels. We looked at some really cool rocks and minerals, such as mica. Overall, I had a fantastic time and enjoyed spending time with (and meeting) people. I loved being in nature and staying here. I hope to come back soon!”
“Day 1: When we arrived at SkySchool we met up with our groups and met our mentors. After that we took a hike, so we can start brainstorming ideas for our projects. After lunch we hiked back to the meadow and we played a REALLY fun game of predator and prey. After that we got to have a quick break back in our dorms. When we got back we got to do rotations to learn more about what the other mentors do. After rotations we had DELICIOUS food. After that we learned about science illustrations, and we got to try to draw a science illustration. After that we did a night walk and it was SO pretty. That was the end of Day 1.
Day 2: We first ate breakfast. Then we split off in our groups and we tried to figure out what we were going to do for our project. After we figured it out we collected some rocks, and then hiked up to the fire lookout where we ate lunch and collected mica for our project. We had to hike back to the learning center and start making our pigments. We did that till dinner time. After we went up to the telescope to look and learn at stars. It was SO pretty. After that we went back to our dorms and played apples to apples. Then I went to sleep.
Day 3: We finished making our pigments. We then had to swatch on the pigments to our arms. When we were done with that we walked down to the learning center to take photos of our arms. Then we walked over to the meadow and played games. After an hour we went back to the learning center to take photos of our arms again. After that we got to eat lunch. After lunch we observed the photos and we took a survey with all the colors to get our data. Then we got to have a quick break back at our dorms again. When we walked back to the learning center we started to make our poster. When we finished our poster we practiced our presentation. When we were done we got to go back to our dorms for 40 minutes. When we got back to the learning center we ate dinner and presented our projects.
My SkySchool experience was so much fun. I learned a lot and it was really interactive. Thank You Sky School!”
“So far, SkySchool has been a blast. We have hiked all over Mt. Lemmon and seen some incredible places. One of my favorite times was eating lunch on the cliff in front of the fire watchtower. The views aren’t only incredible in the day, but at night they are equally as dope. We checked out amazing stars and planets through telescopes and spotted constellations with a laser pointer. Sunsets are also amazing up here. Although hiking is tiring, it is fun. We have also played predator prey, a game that simulates real life situations with stealing resources from a predator, and hiding as prey. Tonight we are presenting our research projects that we have been conducting throughout the week. Different groups are all asking different questions. We then had to go through the whole scientific process acting as if we were professionals doing it. All in all I have had a great time and I’m sad to be leaving tomorrow morning. “
“The instructors from the U of A I thought were very fun, nice, and knowledgeable about many subjects including the one they majored in. Also the presentations from each of the instructors were very cool and interesting.”