What my students learned at KSS

Ranger Rick1

In my backyard there is a world class educational facility – Keystone Science School. As a teacher in Summit County for over 20 years, the Science School taught snow science and ecology concepts to my students, but really they did much more. The knowledge, enthusiasm, and hands-on approach to learning laid the foundation for global stewardship.  The students in my classes realized the beauty that nature holds, as well as the responsibility that each of us has. In my backyard there is a gem. That gem is Keystone Science School.

 Ranger Rick2

The photographs are borrowed from a 2008 article in Ranger Rick magazine featuring the snow science curriculum as part of KSS's School Programs.

Changing Our Water Future

Water policyHave you ever seen a group of kids more excited to be with their state representatives? This is the kind of academic exhilaration inspired by our newest policy-based program, Basin Voyage. This hybrid program crosses the academic rigor of Youth Policy Summit with the kind of fun and adventure that any KSS camper can experience on one of our Keystone Mountain AdventuresThe result is an action-packed, 6-day adventure that brings young people right into the heart of water issues in Colorado. From learning about flood irrigation on a western Colorado ranch to debating the use of damming and hydroelectric power on Colorado’s rivers, Basin Voyage participants are literally getting wet and wild while they learn. 

Our first ever Basin Voyage took place last week, June 8th - 14th. The students met Colorado Representatives Don Coram and Jerry Sonnenberg during their final project presentation to a group of experts, stakeholders, and legislators. The students and their leaders had an amazing time and learned more about water issues in western states in one week than many of us learn in a lifetime. 

Mountain Sports Kayak School out of Steamboat, Colorado taught students to kayak on the Yampa River. Students took turns paddling around on calm waters, playing in eddies, and practicing their technique. After playing in the water students took water samples and learned to test water quality. 

Kayak Basin VoyageStudents camped out every night in some of the most beautiful parts of Colorado, and always close to water. “While walking through dams, hiking by raging rivers, and kayaking directly on the Yampa River, I felt wholly in touch with the variety of adventures that come with a healthy water supply,” wrote one high school student of his experience. “Most importantly though, were the campsites we lived in for the past five days. The surrounding view from Steamboat Lake State Park was breathtaking, and it is a view of nature that I hope my children and grandchildren will get the opportunity to see as well.” So do we, my friend. So do we.

making the most of my opportunity



I will be attending Key Issues Institute at Keystone Science School in June thanks to the generous sponsorship of my sponsor, Alcoa Foundation. I am looking forward to learning new techniques to teach science concepts to my sixth graders in Michigan. I want to make the most of my experience so I am planning early. Before I leave for Key Issues, I will be mapping out my science units for the next school year. As I learn at Key Issues, I want to note places where the new strategies will fit smoothly into my curriculum. I also want to make the most of my experience outdoors, so I am exercising daily. I can’t wait for June 24!

Read the local newspaper. Check.
Small gift. Got it.
45 copies of my activity lesson plan. Done.
Activity advertisement. Created.
Colorado gear. Already shopped (and loved it).
High altitude preparation...in progress.


community connections that change lives


Schoolership photo

This week marks the close of KSS School Programs for the 2013-2014 school year. It’s been a great one and we look forward to many more. For years Keystone Science School has enjoyed a productive and mutually enriching relationship with Summit County School District through KSS’s unique School Programs. These local, grant-funded programs bring supplemental and experiential education into Summit County classrooms while also providing an opportunity for both the students and teachers to get out of the classroom to experience science in the natural environment.

Heidi Pace, Summit County School District Superintendent and KSS Board member says, “Keystone Science School has been an invaluable partner with Summit School District. Our students benefit from programs like astronomy, outdoor education, hands-on science education, after school health and nutrition, and many others. Their staff and curriculum are top-notch. Our students love being involved with Keystone Science School, which directly benefits their learning and success in school.”

Without the support of the Summit School District KSS would not be able to reach as many young people in our community. The collaboration between Summit County teachers and KSS program instructors allows us to develop targeted, meaningful curricula that address specific state science standards while creating innovative and fun learning experiences that spark students’ interest in STEM. As a result teachers receive support in meeting their goals and KSS is closer to meeting its mission.

This kind of cooperation and mutual support is what has built the Summit County community. “It’s exciting to be able to make an impact in our immediate community,” says Dave Miller, School Programs Director at KSS. “This partnership helps us to get to know Summit County on a deeper level and understand what the needs are here and be able to impact those needs through what we do at KSS.”


Love What You Do


Key Issues Water Testing

While doing research for our marketing video I asked Emily Weber, our Educator Programs Director, why she loves her job. I love her response so much I have to share it. And with Key Issues kicking off next month Emily’s life is more than a little busy right now. In times like these it’s always nice to be reminded why you’re working so hard. Keep your head up, Emily. We couldn’t do this without you!

I firmly believe in KSS’s mission, and the impact that we all have on students. When someone asks me to tell them what I do at KSS, I almost can’t believe the words that are coming out of my mouth. I’ve been here about a year and a half, and I still ask people to pinch me because it seems too good to be true. As a former classroom teacher, I used to impact one classroom of students – about 30 students per year. With the work that I do now, if I impact 30 teachers at a workshop, it multiplies the student impact exponentially. I get goosebumps every time I think of that. Whenever I feel discouraged with fundraising or if I’m having a hard day, I just remember the national and international reach that Educator Programs has, and it inspires me to stay motivated and committed. My job combines so many aspects that I love, from teaching and program and curriculum development to fundraising and building relationships, impacting students around the world, and being a member of an amazing team here at KSS. Plus I get to live in my favorite playground of Summit County, Colorado. This is truly my dream job.