Super Science Camp

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4 minutes, 54 seconds

In 2015, students from Kotzebue High School found their experience at the Kobuk Valley Science Camp to be challenging and fun. Each day presented a new range of obstacles to overcome such as learning to build a shelter, fly-fishing, bear safety, and more.

student kneels on sand to study bones
A student studies caribou vertebrae lying on the sand dunes

NPS Photo/Susan Schmidt

A camping adventure of a lifetime happened for seven students on the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes in September, 2014. It took nine loads on small bush airplanes to get students, staff, safety gear, food, and science equipment to the dunes. Rangers and scientists wanted kids to see what it was like to be a field biologist for the National Park Service. The hope is that these local Inupiaq high school students will choose science careers and protect the environment in their traditional homelands. The National Park Foundation made the whole trip possible through the America's Best Idea grants program. At camp, everyone dove into the following activities:

  • Bear safety (there were grizzly tracks all over the dunes) – pepper spray, food storage, cooking procedures
  • Fly fishing
  • Identifying aquatic insects that affect fishing success
  • Minnow trapping
  • Leave No Trace camping ethics
  • Hypothermia prevention
  • Remote detection camera set up
  • Bat detection sensors
  • Studying the formation of the sand dunes
  • Analyzing tracks and scat
  • Lichen identification
  • Bear hair collection for DNA analysis
  • Using weather recording instruments
  • Facilitated dialog about controversial wildlife issues
The students were total troopers.They kept their spirits up through sun, wind, rain, freezing temperatures, and tangled fishing lines. And they marveled at grizzly tracks, northern lights, migrating caribou, bear spray practice and long hikes through the wilderness. Hooray for our next generation of conservation biologists!

See the full photo gallery of the students' adventure.

2 students examine aquatic insects
Studying aquatic insects helps you know what the fish may be eating

NPS Photo/Susan Schmidt

biologist straps a camera to a tree
Biologist Melanie Flamme shows how to set up a remote sensing camera

NPS Photo/Linda Jeschke

shoe next to wolf track in sand
A hiking boot gives a size perspective to a wolf track on the sand dunes

NPS Photo/Tyler Teuscher


Last updated: July 20, 2016

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 1029
Kotzebue, AK 99752


(907) 442-3890

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