Mountain Learning: Essential Elements & Activities

The following lessons and activities comprise TMI's Mountain Learning courses. We are happy to design a custom program to fit your group's needs using any combination of the opportunities below. Activities marked with an asterisk are correlated with West Virginia state education Content Standards and Objectives.

Get Acquainted/Group Dynamics: Games and mixer activities immediately engage the students in active learning about each other, their instructors, and their course.

Team Development: Group initiatives promote cooperation, communication, trust, decision making, problem solving, and leadership development.

Service Learning Projects:  Participate in a variety of service learning projects including trail maintenance, watershed restoration through tree planting and invasive species control.

Geology Programs*: Learn about the geologic history of the Appalachians.  Hike to the top of Spruce Knob for a view of ancient tectonic activity OR participate in a two day geology-intensive program.

Forest Ecology Study*: Discover the history of West Virginia’s forests, including such topics as logging, railroads, homesteads, and National Forest development.

Beaver Pond/ Stream Valley Exploration: Follow the waterways to find traces of beaver activity and discover clues about a beaver’s lifestyle.

Stream Quality Monitoring*:  Study a pristine mountain stream in the headwaters of the Potomac or Mississippi River.  Learn to sample physical, chemical, and biological properties of the stream and why water quality is important to human and environmental health.  Single and multi-day watershed education experiences are offered.

Orienteering and Hiking to Spruce Knob*: A view from the top! Learn map & compass land navigation and work together to find the highest point in West Virginia. Once there, look to the mountains for lessons in geology, teamwork, and more.

Nocturnal Explorations: Explore the night with games, hikes, and discovery activities.

Amphibian Study*:  First, learn about amphibians with a slideshow.  Then, head outside to search for salamanders!  Central Appalachia is a biodiversity “hotspot” and home to numerous salamanders--sometimes we find over 100 during this hands-on activity.

Astronomy:  On clear nights, students explore the night sky using the naked eye, binoculars, and our observatory’s telescope.  We have access to one of the darkest skies in the east: a real treat for astronomers of any experience level.

Canoeing:  Students may explore the Greenbrier, Delaware, or Potomac River on multi-day canoe trips.  Alternatively, students can relax on the calm waters of nearby Spruce Knob Lake.

Whitewater Rafting:  The lively Shenandoah and Cheat rivers make West Virginia a hotspot for rafting.

Survival Skills: Learn about survival skills, including fire building, shelter construction, and other outdoor-exploration skills through fun games and activities.

Karst Exploration: Learn what causes the caves, sinkholes, and disappearing streams that are so prevalent in this area through guided hikes and hands-on activities.

Caving at the Sinks of Gandy: The United States Forest Service has temporarily closed all caves within the Monongahela National Forest due to white nose syndrome developing in bat populations across North America. The Sinks of Gandy is on private property and is not a known active bat hibernaculum, which allows us to use it for our programming. Learn what is happening to the bats and explore the cave ecology and geology while following Gandy Creek as it winds underground for 3/4 of a mile. This cave offers large passageways and is an excellent first time cave!