Model Forest Program – STEM Opportunity for 6th Graders


6th Graders at US Forest Service Nursery

The Model Forest Program is coordinated by the Northwest Natural Resources Institute (NNRI), a program partner of Greater Spokane Incorporated.  It is the collaboration of the NNRI and forest industry professionals located through the region.

The NNRI is a private, non-profit (501c3) educational organization that provides balanced natural resource education opportunities to regional teachers and students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Our mission statement is to cultivate a better understanding of the daily importance of our agriculture, mineral, forest and water resources by educating teachers and students about the science, economic, and societal aspects of our region’s natural resources. We present factual information on the utilization and economic importance of our natural resource industries by providing information for teachers and students to make informed decisions on the management and use of our resources.  We are working hard with our partners to reconnect society to the source of its everyday products – natural resources. 

Since the Model Forest program began in 1998, we along with our partners have educated more than 6800 regional sixth graders, teachers and parent chaperones.  In 2016, 260 regional students and 14 teachers were educated about forestry. Students invited to attend have included sixth graders from Spokane School District #81, Central Valley School District, East Valley School District, private schools from the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Coeur d’Alene School District, Post Falls School District and Lakeland Joint School District.

Through hands-on, STEM-based activities led by foresters and industry professionals, the students use critical thinking to do the following:

Explore the forest at the Idaho Panhandle Forest Service Nursery in Coeur d’Alene, ID and learn to:

  • Estimate the height of trees (using trigonometry)
  • Core a tree to find out how old the tree is (observations and deductive reasoning)
  • Learn how to calculate board feet in a tree (algebra)
  • Identify trees and tree diseases (observations and deductive reasoning)
  • Learn about careers in the forestry industry

While touring the nursery, greenhouses and the seed extractory plant students will:

  • Estimate how many seedlings are being grown in a plot (algebra)
  • Measure and plot the shoot to root ratios of a Western White Pine and a Lodgepole pine (algebra)
  • Determine seed germination rates (ratios and fractions)

The Model Forest program follows several standards of practice for educating (STEM) students including:

  • Learning and applying content
  • Integrating content
  • Interpreting and communicating information
  • Engaging in inquiry
  • Engaging in logical reasoning


During the week of May 22 – May 26, 2017 we will be in Coeur d’Alene at the US Forest Service Nursery educating 16 teachers and more than 350 students about the science and technology behind the forestry industry. 


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