Protecting the Earth for future generations takes first learning about our planet, the environment, and how the ecosystem works. Get ecology teaching tips, project ideas, and more.
Things to See & Do in Washington
Mount Rainier National Park
Established in 1899 Mount Rainier National Park comprises 235,625 acres, with 97% designated Wilderness. The Park includes Mount Rainier (14,410'), an active volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and ice, and outstanding examples of old growth forests and subalpine meadows. It was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1997 as a showcase for the "NPS Rustic" style architecture of the 1920s and 1930s. Whether hiking on its flanks, climbing its summit, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on its slopes, camping along its glacier-fed rivers, photographing wildflower displays in subalpine meadows, or just admiring the view, nearly two million people come to enjoy the grandeur and beauty of Mount Rainier each year.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
With the broad blue expanse of Puget Sound as a backdrop, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is not only one of the top zoos in the country, it is amongst the most beautiful. Nestled on the 29 acres inside the 700-acre Tacoma, Wash park, this zoo & aquarium brings you eye to eye with beluga whales, playful pachyderms, curious polar bear cubs, intriguing sharks, and brilliant reptiles.
Lake Chelan National Recreation Area
Here the beautiful Stehekin Valley, with a portion of fjordlike Lake Chelan, adjoins North Cascades National Park. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (62,000 acres, 24,800 hectares) rests in a glacially carved trough in the Cascades Range. Lake Chelan is one of the nation's deepest, reaching a depth of 1,500 feet (450 meters). It offers boating, fishing, and lakeshore camping. The average width is less than two miles (3.2 kilometers), but Lake Chelan extends 50 miles (83 kilometers) into the Cascade Mountains. The lake's northernmost four miles (6.4 kilometers) are in the National Recreation Area, including the remote community of Stehekin and the Stehekin River Valley. This is a remote part of North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
The Upper Columbia River is rich in cultural and natural significance. For more than 9000 years, people have gathered along the banks of the river to fish and trade with each other. Missionaries and explorers for the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Trading Company mapped the area and developed relationships with the tribes, which lived here. In 1941, damming of the Columbia River as part of the Columbia River Basin project created a 130-mile long lake. Named for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the lake is now the largest recreation feature in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, camping, canoeing and visiting historic Fort Spokane and St. Paul's Mission are highlights of visiting Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
Woodland Park Zoological Gardens
Learn about the animal world at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Highlights include an African Village and Savanna, Discovery Barn, Bug World, and Tropical Rain Forest. Offers educational programs and special exhibits.
North Cascades National Park
Long before North Cascades National Park Service Complex was established in 1968, this area was a home. It was the home to many Native American tribes and a trade gateway between the Plateau tribes to the east and the Coast Salish tribes to the west. Native Americans have been in these mountains for over 8,000 years. More recent settlers came in the nineteenth century to establish homesteads in places like the Stehekin Valley, or to mine elusive minerals – like gold, or to trap furbearing animals such as the beaver, otter, and marten. Now it is preserved as a national park for future generations to enjoy. North Cascades National Park Service Complex contains the heart of this mountainous region in three park units which are all managed as one and include North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. Each area offers different experiences and contains wilderness.
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Located in Eatonville, this 615-acre park has a little bit of everything: lakes, trails, meadows and plenty of animals. Northwest Trek is home to more than 200 North American animals. See bighorn sheep, deer, Roosevelt elk, woodland caribou, mountain goats, bison and more up close from comfortable trams while touring the free-roaming area. Walk forested pathways to view grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls, eagles and wetland animals in beautiful natural exhibits. Five miles of nature trails await exploration and the Cheney Discovery Center offers exciting hands-on experiences.
Activate all your senses and surround yourself by the Sound. The Seattle Aquarium features exciting new exhibits for you to see, touch and explore. Grab a guide and gain an even more meaningful marine experience. And don't forget to check back often because our exhibits are changing faster than a brine shrimp sheds his shell and growing quicker than a kelp forest. Offers educational programs and special events.
Olympic National Park
Glacier capped mountains, wild Pacific coast and magnificent stands of old-growth forests, including temperate rain forests -- at Olympic National Park, you can find all three. About 95% of the park is designated wilderness, which further protects these diverse and spectacular ecosystems. Olympic is also known for its biological diversity. Isolated for eons by glacial ice, and later the waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic Peninsula has developed its own distinct array of plants and animals. Eight kinds of plants and 15 kinds of animals are found on the peninsula but no where else on Earth.
Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Ross Lake National Recreation Area is the most assessible part of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Ross Lake National Recreation Area (118,000 acres, 47,200 hectares) is the corridor for scenic Washington State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, and includes three reservoirs: 12,000-acre (4,800-hectare) Ross Lake, 910-acre (364-hectare) Diablo Lake, and 210-acre (84-hectare) Gorge Lake -- water gateways to more remote areas. Ringed by mountains, it offers many outdoor recreation opportunities along the upper reaches of the Skagit River, between the north and south units of North Cascades National Park.
Activities & Experiments
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: Science
Family style learning is a great way to tackle lots of different subjects, including science.
Handbook of Nature Study
Based on Charlotte Mason's method of education, this website offers ideas and resources for incorporation nature study into your homeschool.
Arbor Day National Poster Contest
Join over 74,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The theme chosen will increase your students’ knowledge of how trees produce and conserve energy. The free Activity Guide includes activities to use with fifth grade students to teach the importance of trees in producing and conserving energy. These activities correlate with National Science and Social Study Standards. The Guide also includes all of the information you need for poster contest participation.
ExploraVision is a competition for all students in grades K-12 attending a school in the U.S., Canada, U.S. Territory or a Department of Defense school. Homeschooled students are eligible to enter. It is designed to encourage students to combine their imagination with their knowledge of science and technology to explore visions of the future. Teams of students select a technology, research how it works and why it was invented, and then project how that technology may change in the future. They must then identify what breakthroughs are required for their vision to become a reality and describe the positive and negative consequences of their technology on society. Winning ideas have focused on things as simple as ballpoint pens and as complex as satellite communications. The student teams write a paper and draw a series of Web page graphics to describe their idea. Regional winners make a Web site and a prototype of their future vision.
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