Over the past two weeks, M-A AP Environmental Science (APES) classes took field trips to the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains to learn about its diverse ecosystems and build upon topics they have learned about this past year. APES teacher Lance Powell said, “We’ve been lucky to have a partnership with Jasper Ridge. I think we were one of the first student groups to get out there again because it’s not open to the public.”

Students organized into five groups, led by their trained docents, and split into different directions to view the preserve’s unique geography and plant adaptations. Powell explained, “Because of the San Andreas Fault, which runs through Jasper Ridge, there are different soil types. So you’ve got something like 14 or 17 distinct ecosystems within a very small area of land.”

Dam at Jasper Ridge

The main focus of the classes’ trips was the dam at Jasper Ridge. Students were able to see the dam from both the bottom and top, as they traversed the bridge hovering it. Senior Calypso Boustiha said, “Walking across the dam was very impressive, and a little scary. The overall architecture was really cool. I never pictured a dam to be designed the way it was.”

One controversy students learned about was whether the dam should be removed, as it was almost responsible for our drinking water, but is currently filling up with silt. Junior Gigi Edwards said, “Jasper Ridge allowed us to discuss the pros and cons of taking down the dam. We can always picture what the consequences would be, but it’s so much better to physically see it.”

Junior Mia Banks said, “Overall, it was really fun to go with friends, especially and being able to pick our groups. We were able to learn, as well as just take a break from school for a change.”

Through this field trip, students were able to apply their knowledge of climate change, nitrogen and carbon cycles, hydroelectric dams, and other environmental topics they have discussed this past school year to the real world. Powell said, “I think students were pretty well-versed, and the docents were impressed.”

APES classes can look forward to more trips in the future. Powell said, “I think that field trips build community in a class. All of a sudden they’re in the water, they’re out of their element.”

Sheryl Chen is a junior and in her second year in journalism. She hopes to expand her knowledge on issues pertinent to M-A and the local community. She is also a member of M-A's debate team.

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