Boise students learn the science of snow at Bogus SnowSchool

Posted at 9:15 AM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 11:35:37-05

With their snowshoes strapped on, Whitney Elementary fifth-graders are ready to learn. The 60 students are spending the day at Bogus Basin SnowSchool.

"It's the best field trip ever," shouted Kennady Young.

All bundled up, the kids receive hands-on science and ecology lessons as they adventure outside. The instructors are dedicated volunteers.

"Our main lessons here are about the watershed, so how in the end does the snow here get to the valley and the rivers? We build snow pits together and measure the depth and temperature of the snow to understand the dynamic properties of what snow is. We talk about our weather station so the kids can see how data is collected and take that back to their classroom, and we measure the amount of water in the snow," explained volunteer Sarah Bartholow. 

Another favorite lesson is on how animals adapt to their winter environments. The students all take a big belly slide down the hill to experiment.

"They sort of have these 'Aha' moments of, 'oh, it matters how much snow is up here for me and the rest of the year,'" Bartholow said. 

SnowSchool started in 2005 when Bogus Basin Nordic Center, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, and the Boise National Forest all teamed up to create this winter field trip program. 

Monday through Friday, from January to March, a different school group arrives at the Nordic Lodge.

The program is funded by grants. All the snowshoes and equipment are available for classes to borrow, even boots and gloves for kids who don't have them. 

"They try to get used to using the snowshoes and I tell them eventually they are going to fall at one point during the day which they love," Bartholow said.

"Walking up and down the hills you keep falling over," fifth-grader Danika Humlen added.

At the end of the day, everyone leaves with a smile. SnowSchool can always use volunteers. For more information visit