By day five, our summer campers had spent the better part of a week searching for evidence of mythical creatures in local forests and parks, but the big prize—Sasquatch—remained elusive. They had successfully used their tracking and biologist training to find the Lorax and the Pacific Tree Octopus earlier in the week, but only a few faint clues for Bigfoot. At this point, they were questioning why the Greenway’s summer camp was called ‘Searching for Sasquatch’…until we arrived at the Sky Country Trail Head on Cougar Mountain.
Powerful, memorable learning experiences start with a strong ‘hook,’ an engaging introduction that grabs the students’ attention and sparks their curiosity. This hook creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement about what they are about to learn.
Our hook for learning about local ecology and restoration was the search for mythical creatures in the Greenway: the Lorax, the Pacific Tree Octopus and Sasquatch. In their search for these elusive creatures, the campers hiked on Cougar and Tiger Mountain, learned about Pacific Northwest plants and animals, and practiced ecological restoration skills.
This summer, the Greenway Trust teamed up with the Pacific Science Center to “bring science to life” during our new summer camp for 4th-6th graders.
Throughout the week, the students honed their observational skills and practiced identifying common plants and animals, and then applied those skills and knowledge in the final search for Sasquatch on Friday. For example, on Monday they made a sound map to compare an urban park environment with the forest ecosystem at Twin Falls, and then on Thursday explored the trails of Tiger Mountain while identifying complex connections among the living and non-living parts of the ecosystem.
At Cougar Mountain, the campers got the surprise of their life, as Sasquatch came lumbering out of the bushes! The first camper to notice Sasquatch didn’t say anything: he just pointed and let his jaw drop. It didn’t take long for the twenty-three other campers to jump, squeal, point, and smile. (A few of them declared loudly that they could tell he was a fake). The activities leading up to this moment prepared them to look and listen closely for evidence of Sasquatch along the trail.
The well-known legend of Sasquatch made for a powerful hook for learning about how we are connected with the Greenway landscape. Whether or not they encounter Sasquatch again in the future, these students left camp with more questions, more curiosity, about the natural world and some skills to help them start answering those questions.
Shout out to the City of Issaquah for arranging for Sasquatch to make an appearance!