Merced County Office of Education

Class Menu


All classes occur in the field to the greatest extent possible. Any classes noted as seasonal are to be determined on a week-to-week based on road and weather conditions.

  • Forest Ecology – Students study the fundamental concepts of ecology as they occur in the forest through hands-on investigation of producers, consumers, and decomposers. Experiential games and activities address photosynthesis, energy, decomposition, interdependence and the relationships between abiotic and biotic organisms in the forest environment.  

  • Stream Ecology (seasonal) – Students study how water systems function globally and locally in the state of California. Students hypothesize, experiment, and form conclusions about the water quality of Big Creek by conducting a hands-on study of the creek's biodiversity. The main topics covered in the class are the water cycle, water quality assessment methods, biodiversity, importance of water, and water conservation.

  • Wildlife Ecology – Students explore fundamental concepts of wildlife biology through guided observation, exploration and group games. The class examines animal adaptations, predator and prey relationships, interdependence between animals and their environment, habitats and niches, and limiting factors of survival such as food, water, shelter, and space.

  • Nature Detectives – Students participate in sensory awareness and nature observation activities in the outdoors to awaken their sense of wonder and hone their observation skills. Through exploration, students develop their appreciation and respect for their natural surroundings, whether here at Green Meadows or back at home.

  • Geology (seasonal) – Students study fundamental concepts of geology as well as the human and ecological values of mineral resources through hands-on exploration, observation and group games. Through experiential learning, the class addresses plate tectonics, the layers of the earth, weathering and erosion, and the difference between rocks and minerals. 
  • Winter Weather Lab (seasonal) – Students investigate the forces in the Earth's atmosphere that combine to create the weather patterns that affect our lives. Students examine the Green Meadows weather station, observe the effects of weather in the forest, and participate in a science lab activity that focuses on how humans adapt to the weather.

  • Orienteering – Students master basic compass skills through instruction and self-guided compass scavenger hunt courses. Students work in small groups to demonstrate their ability to properly use a compass. The class identifies how a compass works by studying the layers of the earth and the importance of the magnetosphere. Students will learn basic map reading skills. 

  • ​Wilderness Ethics – Students learn basic wilderness survival skills and knowledge as well as Leave No Trace ethics through exploration and group activities in the wilderness surrounding Green Meadows. Students participate in activities that demonstrate the ethical ways to travel, camp, and recreate in public lands. Students identify and discuss differences in land management practices between the National Park Service and National Forest Service. 

  • ​Team Challenge – Students explore group dynamics, effective communication and the importance of cooperation through a series of graduated team building initiatives. Students work together to accomplish group goals. Team Challenge encourages creative problem solving and allows the students to gain knowledge about themselves and others in order to work well together. Naturalists lead debriefs of activities to assist students in processing the experience. Team Challenge classes are designed and adapted to the abilities of each group.

  • Big Trees (seasonal) – Students ride in the bus to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Trees to explore the grove's ancient trees and study their unique ecology and structure. Students enjoy a trail lunch and challenge hike back to Green Meadows. Students identify and discuss different land management practices between the National Park Service and National Forest Service. Time in bus: approximately 15 minutes total.

  • Yosemite Valley (seasonal) – Students travel by bus to and from Yosemite Valley where they spend the day exploring its natural wonders.  Glacially-sculpted canyons, lush meadows, and abundant wildlife await visitors in Yosemite Valley. The students discuss geology, the water cycle, and the area's human history while exploring Yosemite National Park. Time in bus: approximately 2-3 hours total. This field trip may not be available with larger groups.​

  • All-Day Adventure Hike (seasonal) – Students hike a four mile loop around Green Meadows through the beautiful Sierra National Forest. The first half of the day is focused on nature exploration and the development of observation skills. Naturalists and teachers lead a series of nature journaling activities that help students to explore the forest in a meaningful way and fully appreciate the unique place they are in. The second half of the day is focused on the indigenous people of this area, the Miwok. Students visit real Miwok grinding stones as well as the replica Miwok Village at Green Meadows.

  • Night Prowl (teacher led) – Students use their 5 senses to explore how nocturnal animals survive, playing games and participating in sensory awareness activities in the forest at night.

  • Astronomy – Students learn about stars, shooting stars, planets, galaxies and constellations through night-time observation, discussion and stories.

  • Egg Drop – Students participate in an engineering competition to see which cabin can create the most successful contraption to keep a raw egg from cracking when dropped from height.