Environmental Sampling - Snowpack Project

Background for Teachers

Field sampling with a large crew of students is thrilling. If your students are prepared and all have jobs to do then your sampling events should be smooth. It may help you to have a "Checklist of Data to be Collected” so that you can ensure that students stay on task-especially if you are pressed for time. The "Checklist of Data to be Collected" should definietly be developed and sent into the field if you are sending out a small group of students to collect data and samples (without sending, or taking, out the entire class).


  • Safely carry out the protocols necessary to ensure successful field sampling


  • Students will have samples collected, information about their site, or sampling event conditions

Where does this lesson happen in the Project?

This is the third lesson in Unit 4: Field Sampling to Support Your Claim. This lesson follows Classroom Activity 2: Preparing for Sampling.

For this project field sampling will occur over the winter and into early spring.

Getting Ready

This will vary depending on which sampling event you are undertaking (first sampling event, or subsequent events).

Make sure that your students have their gear and protocols and know what information they will be collecting.


  • Field protocols

Refer to materials lists made after your students reviewed all field protocols and created your class Health and Safety and Leave No Trace protocols.

Handouts (see also Lesson Resources)

  • Field data sheet
  • Field protocols
  • Fieldwork assessment

Student Prerequisites

  • Students must have their field gear and protocols assembled and ready to go

Time Needed

Variable. The first sampling event will be the longest; the events will require less time after that.

Doing the Activity

In the field:

  • Once you have arrived at each of your sites have your students quickly look over the site and make note of the general layout and area, and, if this is not your first time to the site, note any changes to a particular site.
  • If jobs/teams have not been assigned, assign them now (if you are sending students out for routine collection then assign roles before the students leave the classroom).
  • After all data and samples have been collected make sure all trash is picked up and the site looks like it did when you arrived. Ensure that all equipment is accounted for.

Returning from the field:

  • All equipment is checked and put away.
  • Data are entered.
  • Data Sheets are stored in a project-specific location.
  • Samples collected for Snow Water Equivalent are processed and the data recorded.



Check in with students throughout the event to ensure that protocols are being followed and that students are taking in everything they can about their field site. If you are sending students into the field for routine data collection run through the sampling checklist before they head into the field, and once again when they return.


Ask students to fill out the Fieldwork section of their Fieldwork Assessment Checklist and hand it in. If you have gone into the field with them then compare their assessment with your own evaluation.

Ask your students to submit a narrative about the field event. Reflect on group work, being outside, questions they may have about the questions they are investigating, initial thoughts about conducting fieldwork.

Lesson Extensions and Supplements

None at this time



Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
Planning and carrying out investigations