Sierra Seasons Project: School Edition

Sierra Seasons Logo

Sierra Seasons Project: The Science of Seasons

Phenology: Understanding Our Backyards Through Science 

Painted lady


The Sierra Seasons Project (SSP) is a great way to connect your students with their local environment while helping to contribute to scientific research. SSP uses phenology, the study of the timing of periodic plant and animal life cycle events (aka phenophases), to create a better understanding of local plant and animal life cycle events. Examples of phenology are nest building, leaf out, flowers blooming, migration, and emergence. These seasonal events happen everywhere, and everyone pays at least casual attention to them. However, scientists, citizens, and students alike can observe them with greater scrutiny and detail, and an enhanced understanding of phenology can lead to better natural resource management decisions and a greater knowledge of how climate change affects us all.  


 How it Works

Kid  ObservationTINS staff will establish observation sites that are easy to access on school grounds and will provide a one timein-classroom training with students. After the initial training, teachers will be able to independently lead the Sierra Seasons Project, however TINS staff are always available to answer questions or provide further support.

 Time Commitment

Lake Tahoe fall marlette lake

After the initial training (1 hour), teachers will continue the phenology project throughout the school year. It is ideal to have data collected from the sites once a week during the spring (the busiest time for phenophases); this task can be shared with multiple classes and/or teachers (i.e. each class collects every other week). During slower seasons such as November – March, data collection should take place once monthly. Collection and data entry should take no longer than 30 minutes.


 Upon Completion of this Program:


1.         Learn to identify native Tahoe plants

2.         Observe, record, and analyse changes in phenophases

3.         See that they can contribute to globally important research

4.         Have fun learning outside the classroom

5.         Gain an understanding of life cycle events and how they connect to larger-scale phenomena

6.         Establish a greater connection to natural processes in their own backyard


Ready to explore the seaons of Tahoe with your class? Contact:

Sarah Hockensmith


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Links for current Sierra Seasons Schools

Bijou Community School:

 Incline Elementary School 

Glimpse of TINS


Can't find what you're looking for?