Texas Tech University

Outdoor School Course Descriptions & Activities

Exciting news: Our curriculum is currently being updated. Look for new units as well as current units that are more concise, meaningful, and engaging while still aligned to the TEKS. Instructors will model and facilitate while students learn using hands-on/inquiry teaching methods. Students will develop a curiosity and ownership for the outdoors using the following units. Look for High School units - coming soon!

Academies are 3 day/ 2 night visits.
Excursions are a single day visit.
Units will be modified for excursions/day visits.


*Updated Aquatic Biology - A hands-on experience in the South Llano River. This unit involves instruction in metamorphosis, and collection and assessment of macroinvertebrates from the river. Students will gain an understanding of the interconnected nature of water health and water life. Each student has access to a multitude of tools that help them learn to evaluate and draw conclusions about water quality and how to protect our watershed. The new Watershed unit is a great complement to Aquatic Biology.

Circuits –Students apply learned concepts about electricity and energy to build a variety of closed circuits using renewable and nonrenewable resources. Hands-on manipulation of tools is key in this unit. The conservation aspect of this unit explores small- and large-scale uses of alternative energy sources.

Geology – A field adventure that takes the students to an off campus site where they can experience the skill involved with being a geologist. Students will use safety tools and rock picks to collect and test rock samples in order to discover the type of rock in an area. Instruction includes learning about minerals, sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock and their characteristics.

Hiking – As the students travel down picturesque hiking trails, they are engaged in learning about various plants and their adaptations to the environment. Students use a field guide to identify flora and fauna native to the area.

Hot Air Balloons/ Buoyancy Unit - 6th Grade+ Students learn about density and buoyancy before building their very own hot air balloons. Pairs of students build and fly their creation measuring each flight to determine an average length of flight.

Orienteering - A scavenger hunt designed to apply learned compass and map skills, as well as enhance problem solving and teambuilding skills. Compasses and instruction are provided prior to beginning the course.

*Updated Pedology – Manipulation of various types of soil. Students discover how to compare the texture and permeability of soil samples, learn how soil properties affect organisms and plant growth through soil sampling, and perform soil tests such as pH and organism collection.

Quail CSI - Students will be hiking in a natural quail habitat in order to investigate crime scenes. They will work together to draw inferences based on observations and will analyze clues to identify perpetrators of nest depredation. Students will gain an understanding of how the predator-prey relationship affects populations of quail. Finally, students will identify various adaptations of predators and prey.

Teambuilding – Teambuilding activities focus on the 3 C's – Communication, Cooperation, and Commitment. Students learn to function together as a group and make new friends during these engaging activities.

*New Understanding Watersheds – Students will create watershed models in order to understand what a watershed is and why it's important for a variety of life forms. Other important aspects of this unit include the water cycle, what happens to rain water, and the importance of riparian zones.


*Updated Astronomy - Discover and explore the wonders of the universe. Students learn the moon phases and view constellations using binoculars and telescopes.

*Updated Ornithology – Experience and observe the Great Horned Owl. Students use safe lab practices to dissect owl pellets. Students take part in a night hike as instructors call a Great Horned Owl during an owl watch.

Challenge Course – Students are placed in small groups and work together to strategize an order for visiting flags placed around our TTU Junction campus. Each group receives ½ of the available points for finding the flag and the other ½ for answering a question about the week correctly. This activity is a great review of the week's units and activities and also allows for map reading practice, teamwork and some friendly competition.