Instructional Trails
Astronomy Trail

This is a nighttime elective activity that students must request through their classroom teacher. Students will see a short slide show that introduces them to some of the objects visible in the night sky. They will then visit the Lyle Christman Observatory and view planets, galaxies, star clusters, and other celestial objects through a 14" telescope.

Bear Creek Trail

Students will use dip nets to study the aquatic life in Bear Creek. Through observing aquatic insects, they will learn about adaptations, interdependence, and life cycles. Students also study the life cycle of the California Newt, observing the changes in its life cycle as they occur during the year. Students participate in ongoing recording of newt population, comparing past data.

Bird Trail

Students receive information on the diverse lifestyles and adaptations of birds. Then, armed with the birder's tools - binoculars and field guides - they search the riparian, meadow, and woodland habitats for the birds of SCICON.

Forestry Trail

Students learn to "read the stories of the trees" just as a forester must do. By learning to identify the trees and examine evidence such as tree growth rings, insect damage, etc., the students interpret the tree's health, vigor, and growth history. The wise use of trees as a renewable natural resource is stressed.

Geology Trail

This geology trail goes about a mile down the northwest side of Bear Creek. It passes through the three classes of rocks - igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Students learn how to identify these rocks and how they relate to the building of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The return trail goes past Soda Springs. The origin of the water and its mineral content are explored.

Museum Trail

The museum trail utilizes the vast and varied resources of the Phyllis Wall Museum/Library to provide the students with a hands-on experience primarily in the areas of Yokuts Indians, wildlife and rocks and minerals. A "detective sheet" is provided, and students are encouraged to discover "clues" to questions designed to draw their attention to special areas of interest.

Natural Resources / Recycling Trail

Students will learn about the natural resources that are needed to make the everyday products we all use. Students will then explore practical ways that people can conserve natural resources. Students will practice the three "R's" of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Planetarium Trail

Through a series of activities, students learn about our solar system, galaxy, and universe. They then view the stars via the simulated sky of the planetarium. A visit to the observatory acquaints the students with the operation of the telescope. The importance of astronomy to mankind is discussed.

Quartz Mine Trail

On the Quartz Mine Trail, students learn how rocks are formed and the uses of various minerals. They see examples of the three most common minerals at SCICON: quartz, mica, and feldspar. After learning about crystals and how they grow, they have a chance to dig for a quartz crystal of their own! Several old quartz mines exist at SCICON. Fifty years ago miners dug for the crystals which were primarily used in electronics.

Tree Nursery

Students who go to the Tree Nursery will be involved with numerous hands-on activities that focus on natural recycling including composting and worm farming. Students will work doing various jobs around the apple orchard, depending on the season, to introduce them to plant biology. They also gather seeds of native trees in the fall, plant the seeds in pots in the winter and transplant seedlings in the spring. They will learn how water and other natural resources affect plant growth.