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Tope Elementary Eagles Visit CMU to Learn About Pikas

On January 29, 52 first-graders from STEAM @ Tope Elementary embarked on an educational journey to Colorado Mesa University to learn about pikas.

STEAM education, which integrates science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, serves as the guiding force behind Tope Elementary's innovative approach to learning. This interdisciplinary framework empowers students to explore complex real-world issues and develop crucial problem-solving skills.

Driven by their commitment to environmental stewardship, the Eagles set out to unravel the mysteries surrounding the recent decline in pika numbers. With a sense of purpose, they posed the fundamental question: How can the STEAM @ Tope community contribute to the cause of protecting pikas in Colorado?

"They love seeing themselves as college students for the day and interacting with the college students on campus," Tope Elementary First-Grade Teacher Alyssa Zimmerman. "They're envisioning themselves here, which is really cool to see."

Accompanied by Rowdy the Maverick, CMU's mascot, and guided by Associate Professor of Biology Johanna Varner, PhD, the Eagles immersed themselves in a day filled with discovery and enlightenment, learning about pika habitats, behavior, diet and more.

"We first started with a little introduction, and we talked a little bit about what pikas are, why they're important to the ecosystem and why we should care about them," said Varner, PhD.


Tope's recent visit to campus isn't the only interaction the Eagles have had with CMU. In fact, over the past few years, Rowdy and CMU's Women's Basketball Team have visited the Eagles as part of CMU's Where We Become Mavericks initiative, a partnership between Mesa County Valley School District 51 and CMU with the goal of making higher education affordable and accessible for local students.

As the day unfolded, the spirited enthusiasm of the Eagles resonated throughout CMU's campus, leaving an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of joining them on their journey. Their unwavering commitment to learning and their dedication to making a positive impact on the world serves as a testament to the transformative power of education.

With their newfound knowledge, the Eagles returned to Tope to share with others the importance of protecting wildlife and paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come.


Written by Madelynn Fellet