Forest Processes Field Trip

Grade: 3-6 (can be modified for older students)
Subject: Science
Skills: Communicate, Observe, Identify, Model
Duration: 4.5 hours
Group Size: 60 students total, 2 groups of 30 students
Location: Trail of the Cedars, Native Plant Nursery
Available Dates: Spring and Fall
Vocabulary: See the bolded words in the objectives below.

Summary: Students may visit the native plant nursery and then travel to a 1-2 mile long (round-trip) trail to hike with a ranger. There will be stops at various points along the trail to do an activity or discuss something they see in the forest.

Objectives: (These are examples of some of the objectives that can be achieved on a forest walk. Many others are possible depending on the teacher's focus and the ranger.)

Students will be able to:

  • Tell what national parks protect and one reason Glacier National Park was established.
  • Identify coniferous trees with a dichotomous key.
  • Give 3 examples of interrelationships in the forest.
  • Point to a place in the forest that would have a different micro-climate than on the trail.
  • Define producers, consumers, decomposers and point to an example of each in the forest.
  • Model how trees transfer food and water throughout their structures, and how they are adapted for protection from insects, cold weather, and drought.
  • Name one symbiotic relationship in the forest.
  • Write a recipe for soil.
  • List the raw materials needed for photosynthesis as well as the products.
  • Explain how trees play a role in the carbon cycle.
  • Find an example along the trail of a living organisms depending on something non-living.
  • Give an example of a forest community food chain.
  • Give one way that non-native plants can cause problems for native plants and wildlife.
  • List 2 ways that humans impact native plants in the forest.
  • Describe one benefit of planting native plants over non-native plants.
  • Identify at least one plant and tell how Native Americans used it.

Montana Content and Performance Standards:

10.54.5010 Science Standard 1= “…design, conduct, evaluate, and communicate scientific investigations.”

10.54.5030 Science Standard 3= “…demonstrate knowledge of characteristics, structures and function of living things, the process and diversity of life, and how living organisms interact with each other and their environment.”

10.54.5040 Science Standard 4= “…demonstrate knowledge of the composition, structures, processes, and interactions of earth’s systems and other objects in space.”

Making Connections to Glacier National Park:

One of the reasons Glacier National Park was established was to preserve the natural processes and the biological diversity (variety of plants and animals) that live here.

Field Trip Logistics:

Teachers wishing to have their students participate in the forest processes field trip should plan to arrive in the park by 9:30 – 10 a.m. and stay until 1:30 – 2 p.m. Everyone must be prepared to be outside all day and ready to hike 2 miles on fairly level terrain.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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