RPA Students Explore the Science and History of Eastern Oregon


For a recent class called, “Science and History of Eastern Oregon,” RPA high school students camped and explored from Madras to John Day, and all the way down to the Alvord Desert. For seven days and eight nights, three teachers, Troy Longstroth, Elinor Wilson and Lauren Langland, and 16 students made their homes in the outdoors, sleeping in tents for the entire trip.  

“All of the students were so wonderful,” said science teacher Elinor Wilson. “Despite some inclement weather and bugs, everyone stayed positive and had a blast! Learning out in the real world is a completely different experience than reading about a place or topic. A highlight of the trip for all of us was the Kam Wah Chung Chinese Heritage Site. We got to tour the historic building and visit a museum to learn about things such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the two amazing men, Ing Hay and Lung On, who had such a profound impact on Oregon’s history.”

The class packed a lot into the week, digging thundereggs north of Madras, digging fossils in Fossil, hiking in the Painted Hills, visiting and touring the Kam Wah Chung museum in John Day, learning about Eastern Oregon’s prehistory at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center near Kimberly, Oregon, experiencing hot springs at Crystal Crane Hot Springs near Burns, bird watching in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, visiting the Alvord Desert, talking to staff at Hart Mountain Antelope Reserve about biology and careers in land management and exploring a volcanic caldera at East Lake.

They experienced quite a bit of rain on the trip, but according to staff, students did not complain and had a great time. All of the students went to at least one or two places that they’d never been. They also each completed a teacher-created workbook of reading passages, activities, and reflections to show their new knowledge of the topics they explored. 

“Everywhere we went fellow campers were impressed at the maturity of our students and excited they were able to experience all the hidden Jem’s Eastern Oregon has to offer,” said science teacher Lauren Langland

Students were able to earn either science or social studies credit for the trip.

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