Young scientists at a stream

Science in the City:  Urban Ecology Camp

Work with real scientists to explore Colorado ecology!

For rising 7th – 9th graders
June 25 – 29, 2018, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Auraria Campus and 3 local research sites
Cost: $350 (Includes all materials and transportation to research sites, but does not include meals)

Camp Schedule

*Order of days subject to change

  • Day 1 - Stream Ecology Prepare Plant Press
  • Day 2 - Denver Botanic Gardens Field Trip
  • Day 3 - Pine Bark Beetle Field Trip
  • Day 4 - Investigate Urban Wildlife Trap Cameras
  • Day 5 - Analyze and Present Data from Field Work

Please note that meals are not included and participants are expected to bring a bagged lunch for all 5 days of camp. 

All camp activities will be supervised by adults. Activities will include walking at Denver’s elevation (5,280 ft) or higher (participants should consult with their medical professional to determine ability to participate in activities in Colorado elevations as higher elevations can cause illness), gathering plant samples in both urban and natural environments, wading in Cherry Creek using waist-high gaiters, moderate hiking in mountainous terrain, and travelling via CU Denver rented vans to field sites. Participants should wear closed-toed sturdy walking shoes and should dress comfortably in layers to be prepared for Denver's sometimes unpredictable weather. 

Activity Overview & Learning Outcomes

The Urban Ecology Camp will be lead by Dr. Laurel Hartley with selected graduate students to cover the following exciting topics:

  • Pine Bark Beetle Ecology - We will discuss topics related to ecology of nearby forest ecosystems (e.g. forest fires, climate change, elk browsing, pine bark beetle outbreaks) and then propose a simple research question about pine bark beetle outbreaks, gather data, and interpret the data in light of our hypotheses. We will test this research question during a one day field trip to a mountain ecosystem, no more distant than Rocky Mountain National Park.  
  • Urban Stream Ecology -  We will also characterize the abiotic conditions and biodiversity in Cherry Creek and the S. Platte River in downtown Denver. We will pose a hypothesis about how stream organisms will colonize litter bags (e.g. some bags with native cottonwood leaves and some bags with invasive Russian olive leaves).  We will make bags, place them in a stream system in advance of the camp, and then retrieve them to characterize the community.
  • Urban Wildlife Camera Traps - As Denver has grown as a city, habitats have been altered and fragmented. What animals exist in urban habitats? What habitat characteristics are associated with specific species? We will visit infrared motion-activated cameras around Denver and see what animals are living here. We will collect/analyze data about habitat characteristics and relate those characteristics to what the cameras capture.
  • Urban Plant Life - Most people can name fewer than 10 plant species, yet plants play an important and interesting role in ecology. We will learn about plant life in and around Denver and each participant will create their own plant collection. We will also take a trip to the Denver Botanic Garden to learn about the research they do and about some native plants of Colorado.

Registration Information

Enrollment for the Urban Ecology Camp is now closed!

Our registration deadlines are as follows:

  • March 30, 2018 - Priority deadline for scholarship consideration
  • May 15, 2018 - Final enrollment deadline

The total cost for the camp is $350 - please be prepared to pay for the camp once you have completed the enrollment form.

The goal of our camp is to make it accessible to all students who apply by the priority deadline. We are offering a limited number of need-based scholarships to help students from low-income and financially-burdened families to be able to attend the camp. Students who apply for a scholarship will not be asked to pay anything until scholarship decisions are finalized.


    For questions regarding the Urban Ecology Camp, please contact:

    Mike Ferrara
    Director of STEM Education Initiatives
    Phone: (303) 315-1705

    Refund Policy

    We have a no refund policy except in extenuating circumstances. If you need to request a refund for any reason, please email with a detailed description of your circumstances for consideration.