Friday, August 3, 2012

Colchester Camp

This week I ran a "From the Ground Up" program in Colchester. The themes were similar to the one I ran in Milton last month, but this program was different based on the places we were able to hike, the particular interests of the kids involved, and the things we saw. For example, in this camp we discussed some orienteering and even measured our individual pace length for measuring distances in the woods.

On our way out of the woods we found some hula hoops abandoned on the playground

We spent the first two days at one site, talking about soil, groundwater, bedrock, plants, trees, some animals, and (of course) playing games. Then the third and fourth days we were at a second site where we had access to a different type of forest as well as a tiny part of Colchester bog (I posed about this site before, read about it here.) We saw several carnivorous pitcher plants, as well as cotton grass and peat moss, plants very specific to bog environments. We also found a plant we all recognized very easily. I painstakingly identified, and was the first to eat and confirm, wild blueberries! Once we were sure, we all got to chow down. There were other berries around, so we were all careful to notice the difference and only pick the right ones.

Picking blueberries

These children really picked up on tree identification, which I appreciated because it's one of my favorite parts to talk about. After only one day teaching different types of trees, the next day they came in pointing out ones they remembered. "Look, there's a white pine. And that one's a hemlock!" I barely had to use the dichotomous key with them. But I wanted them to see how to use one, and they really found it interesting.

My new, improved dichotomous key. Now with more trees!

Identifying a moose (striped) maple with the dichotomous key.

The distinct striped bark and big, three-lobed leaves of the moose maple.

As when I was teaching camp in California, the kids' favorite game to play was a game teaching strategies animals might use in the wild to avoid being caught by predators (or to catch their prey.) These kids decided to call it "Snake Eye" since snakes rely on other senses besides sight, such as hearing and scent, since their eyes are not always very strong. In the game, one player is blindfolded and has to "catch" others trying to sneak up on them only using their hearing.


 Nope, not there...

 Ahh, that's the ticket!




Contrary to the way this photo looks, it was actually taken 
moments before she caught him.

We played this game in various places so we could see how the terrain affected the strategies each person used. We also discussed real-world applications of these strategies for animals.

I got some great photos of the students demonstrating a principle during our astronomy lesson on the last day. We discussed how since the moon takes 28 days to rotate on its axis as well as 28 days to revolve around the Earth, the same side is always facing the Earth. As we watch the phases of the moon over a month, we are seeing one day happen on that side of the moon.

 The pillow is to show the side of the moon facing us is denser than the other

 Rotating and revolving, moon around Earth, Earth around sun.

 Switching up the roles to give everyone a turn. We were all very dizzy!

 Drawing our own constellations on a star map

Still a favorite of all the kids, I brought my pet baby corn snake for everyone to learn about and choose to touch or hold (or not.) Everyone in this group was really excited to hold Ned.

And now for the Ned glamour shots:

Today a girl said to me "This is the best week of my life!" (apparently not only because of nature camp, but because she gets to go to the drive-in movies over the weekend.) And that right there is what keeps me doing the work I do!

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