6th-Graders Become a Crew While Backpacking in Mock Martian Landscapes

TEA 6th-Grader Ty Chapman documented the adventure with his camera, producing some amazing imagery that we’re extremely proud to share. Way to go Ty!

Trip photographer Ty Chapman (on the right) posing for a selfie with a few of his Pyramid Peak crew members.

The 6th-grade Pyramid Peak crew recently completed a successful trip to Mt Lassen. This trip was an adventure component to their Space Expedition learning expedition. And as you’d expect in any expedition, especially one to the Martian-like landscapes you find around Mt. Lassen, the crew had to adjust some of their plans on the fly to ensure a successful mission. This trip was a first-time introduction to backpacking for some of the students and they would have to deal with frigid temperatures and strong winds.

The crew began their trip as planned at Butte Lakes Campground on the Northeastern border of the park. There they set up camp and hiked to the top of a cinder cone volcano, scaling its steep side and peered into its crater. This beautiful, but barren landscape gave the students an idea of the lunar and Martian terrain.

On day two, the students practiced packing backpacks for ideal balance and using backcountry stoves. Next, they divided into two groups and backpacked into the wilderness while fitting in academics on Ancient Egypt. One group set up alongside a creek, the second alongside the lake. They all met for dinner on an island and capped the evening with a laser-guided tour of the night sky.

On the third day, the Pyramid Peak crew hiked out from their campsites and toured Lassen National Park. They explored the ancient lava tubes of Subway Cave and viewed Lassen Peak. Students caught a whiff of sulfur and saw the boiling mud pots at Sulfur Works before setting up camp at Hole in the Ground. Around a campfire the crew deduced the direction the Earth spins on its axis and aimed their heads at Polaris, allowing them to reenact the path of the Earth around the Sun leading to our seasons.

Throughout our adventure, students faced and overcame challenges, helped one another, learned new skills, and came together even closer as a crew. They persevered challenging weather and in the end, had an enjoyable experience! Way to go Pyramid Peak crew!

Some pictures are worth more than a thousand words. This capture by Ty tells the story of a TEA education in so many ways.

Exploring the volcanic rocks around Mt Lassen. Cold weather? No problem.

Hard not to smile when experiencing an adventure like this one!

Searching for the perfect spot to set up camp alongside the lake.

The ancient lava tubes of Subway Cave

Developing an appreciation for the natural world.

An uncommon adventure in learning leads to deeper learning. Sometimes the term “deeper learning” is literal, especially in caves.

Congrats to everyone involved with this trip for another amazing TEA experience!

Related Posts


The museum is a hands-on learning environment where children can explore interactive exhibits on nature, science, Nevada...


Nothing quite like kicking off the school year with an event that brings our whole communiTEA together to experience a...


Have you ever had a dream about being on a mission to Mars? The 6th-grade crew at Tahoe Expedition Academy lived out that...


Tahoe Expedition Academy High School students conduct scientific research in harsh volcanic landscapes and atop 13,000-foot...

Latest Posts


Imagine two schools in two entirely different places coming together to learn from each other. In the Seasons of the Washoe...


The museum is a hands-on learning environment where children can explore interactive exhibits on nature, science, Nevada...


How do we develop collaboration, creativity, and perseverance at our high school? We start with a long piece of...


In Blacksmithing, participants will gain an appreciation for the skills, physical demands and challenges blacksmiths and...