School News

Elkhorn Slough Science Field Trip

by Niamh Doyle 

If you’re in AP Environmental Science, you’ve probably gone on at least one sensational trip. Whether venturing to Catalina with the AP Biology class, Costa Rica with AP Chemistry, or the Monterey Bay Aquarium with your fellow AP Environmental Science students, this year’s AP science classes have offered a wide array of day trips and overnight excursions. The weekend of March 22 was no exception, as AP Biology and AP Environmental Science students headed over the hill to participate in the annual Elkhorn Slough kayaking trip.

Saturday morning at Los Gatos High School consisted of a flurry of students, teachers, and camping gear as the APES and AP Biology crew loaded up the vans and headed to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. The students hiked along a stretch of the slough, observing the life that surrounds the meandering, muddy-banked body of water. With expert guides pointing out different plants, animals, and land masses, LGHS’s science enthusiasts applied their knowledge of estuary ecosystems to the real thing, discussing the importance of wildlife preservation and estuarine biodiversity. The reserve also provided time for the students to do some research of their own. Taking to the microscope, the APES and AP Biology students discovered the world of salt and freshwater microorganisms.

Unlike previous years’ trips, this Elkhorn Slough adventure included a night of camping, so the students could get a well-rounded perspective of the slough and the surrounding area. The night was full of campfires and card games as the students reflected on the full day of hiking and learning they had just experienced.

The next morning, the campers headed back to the slough – this time, by kayak. The students got to see baby otters and full-grown seals basking on the banks and playing in the shallow waters of the slough. Slough-savvy kayaking guides presented every aspect of the slough’s various ecosystems, from the organisms that dwell in the muddy flats to the birds that occupy the air around it.

To finish the trip, the estuarine explorers stopped for lunch at Phil’s Fish Market at Moss Landing, an award-winning, internationally sought seafood joint that serves fresh seafood from the nearby bay.

Tired and full, the students headed home brimming with newly-acquired knowledge of another aspect of California’s unique and diverse environment. After nearly a year of trekking around the world both in the classroom and in small groups, the students have developed a well-rounded perspective of the various biological and environmental wonders that this world has to offer. The Elkhorn Slough trip merely added to the students’ growing scientific understanding, and contributed to the passion that these LGHS students have with regards to nature, conservation, and life.

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