Skiing to Winter Knowledge

On January 24, 2019, twenty students from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy made a visit to the Flagstaff Nordic Village to make the most out of the remaining snow.


Out of 20 students only 5 had ever nordic skied before. Just learning to lace boots tightly, and attach them to the ski was a difficult skill that took focus, concentration and a willingness to stick with hard things. Then add the difficulty of maneuvering slippery foot extensions over what is better described as ice than snow and it was a day of deep learning already!


Students quickly self selected into pace and distance groups and we were off for our morning lap! After getting our ski legs, we took a break to eat lunch and learn about winter animal adaptations and how we humans can prepare for winter adventures while staying safe.


While learning about how animals make do in winter’s harsh conditions, we discussed the way wildlife will utilize the natural insulative power of snow, and the air pockets it creates, to stay warm and survive the months of cold. To test their snow cave making abilities, the students split into groups with each group making a “jello frog”, or green jello in a tupperware, to insulate in a snow den for safe keeping.


Once the jello frogs were tucked safely in their nests we set out for another ski loop. Upon returning from our afternoon ski, students dug out their frogs to see if any remained liquid. Those that had solidified were frogs that didn’t make it through the winter. After examining the frogs we debriefed about what strategies worked well, and which didn’t. Thankfully, all the frogs tasted delicious when we were finished!


When asked for their Rose, Bud, and Thorn at the end of the day, student Sara said, “My Rose was being surrounded by nature and being able to ski with my friends, because no one was on their phones and it was really nice to have a real conversation with someone without them being on their phones.” Wow Sara! We agree!


This is what education looks like.