Monday, July 28, 2014

Amazing Animals 1 Questions

We're excited to learn about animals this week!  You can check this blog to follow camp events, both at the museum and beyond.  Please be sure to check again on Friday for some photos from the week!

Here are some suggested questions to ask your camper this week:

On Monday, we will be learning about habitats.
Ask me about my animal habitat diorama!
Ask me about the "Oh deer!" game!

On Tuesday, we will be learning about aquatic animals.
Ask me about the animal skulls we saw!
Ask me about the fish I made!

On Wednesday, we will be going to the Nichols Arboretum.  Please have your child wear his/her camp shirt and bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray.  
Ask me about our walk to the Arb!
Ask me about the scavenger hunt we went on!

On Thursday, we will be learning about birds.
Ask me about the birds we saw from Leslie Science and Nature Center!
Ask me about the origami pigeons we made!

On Friday, we will be learning endangered animals.
Ask me about the elephants we made!
Ask me about my favorite part of camp this week!

Ecology in Your Backyard 1 Questions

We're excited to learn about ecology this week!  You can check this blog to follow camp events, both at the museum and beyond.  Please be sure to check again on Friday for some photos from the week!

Here are some suggested questions for you to ask your camper this week:

On Monday, we will learn about Ecosystems, Biomes and Habitats

Ask me about the ecosystem mural I created and the biome it was about.
Ask me about the habitat games we played and what happens to the wildlife when land is developed.

On Tuesday, we will visit the U-M Nichols Arboretum. 

Ask me about our trip!

On Wednesday, we will learn about wetlands.

Ask me about our special visitor from Our Global Kids, who talked about the Wonders of Wetlands. 
Ask me about the land we "developed" around a pond and what happened to the land. 

On Thursday, we will learn about plants.

Ask me about my field guide I created.
Ask me about some of the native plants I learned about in our Butterfly Garden.

On Friday, we will learn about food chains and how they effect you.

Ask me about how energy is transferred in a food chain and what happens when pesticides are used.
Ask me about some of the "invaders" or invasive species in Michigan. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Archaeology Quest 2

First coins used by Lydians
We started off our second week of Archaeology camp with learning about Ancient Civilizations. We talked about the Lydians who are thought to have developed the first coin system.  Campers got to make their own coins that represented something about them. Then we learned about the Mayans and their number system.  The Mayans used lines, dots and and mysterious-looking pictures to represent numbers.  Campers learned how to decipher the some Mayan math problems. Last, we talked about the Aztecs and how they wrote stories using pictures.  The Aztecs recorded their history on pictograph manuscripts called codices.  Campers made their own stories by drawing pictures.

On Tuesday, campers went to the University of Michigan Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and learned about Greek Mythology.  They got a myth based tour of the galleries at the Museum. They then listened to some myths and designed their own Greek pot based on one a myth they heard or made up themselves.

Our Edmund Fitzgerald Shipwreck Site
Wednesday was all about underwater archaeology. Campers learned about the shipwreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior by investigating the wreck site.  They had to communicate using scuba diving hand signals with each other since you cannot talk to your partner underwater.  Then worked on mapping and surveying the shipwreck site and documenting the artifacts found there.  They also talked about the parts of a boat and then had to design a boat that would float, hold weight and move.  They only had a limited amount of supplies for their boats. We learned that shipwrecks are important to our understanding of ancient boat building technologies and archaeologists can learn about human activities from shipwreck sites. Campers were also able to practice their skills of mapping out a potential archaeological site.  Archaeologists grid a site usually in 1 meter squares and campers had to grid out a site and mark where they found artifacts.

Our boat designs

A boat design

Testing their boat designs


Testing the boats

Testing the boats

Thursday, we went to the U-M Kelsey Museum of Archaeology again. Campers got to participate in an archaeology dig.  There were digs for different places:  Rome, Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Then campers had to tag the artifacts they found and tried to identify what it was.

Excavating the site

One of the artifacts found at the site

On Friday, campers learned more about being an archaeologist.  They took a short quiz to see if they really knew what archaeologists did.  Take the quiz and see how well you do!
Do archaeologists look for dinosaur fossils?  Ask your child!

Campers "read" the landscape on campus to imagine how people may have used the landscape in the past.  Reading a landscape helps archaeologists imagine the lives of past peoples.  Campers participated in "trash can digs" (clean trash only)  to learn about people today in the same way archaeologists use ancient garbage as evidence for people's lives in the past. We dug through three garbage cans and discovered one was from a kitchen, one was from an office and the other one was from a bathroom.  We also made observations and examined some artifacts and recorded as much information about it.  We then tried to determine what it was. We ended our week with an obstacle course relay race with Archaeology questions.  Campers had to complete the obstacle course and choose a word from the word bank.  They then had to determine which question that word answered and put it in the crossword puzzle.  The first group to complete their crossword puzzle won.  It was a great week and we had a great time learning

And they are off!
Part of the Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

More of the Obstacle Course

Trying to find the question that their word answers


Friday, July 25, 2014

Paleontology Rocks 2

The Orange Group on their "Walk through time."
We've had another fun and exciting week at Camp Explorations!  This week we learned all about Paleontology.  On Monday, we focused on geological time scale.  Campers visualized how much a billion is (about 250 pages filled with asterisks!), and made geological time scale spirals.  We also went on a walk to the Diag at the center of UMich's campus to take a walk through time and learn about the Earth's history.

Very enthusiastically coloring their Geological Time Scale Spirals.
On Tuesday, we learned all about dinosaurs.  Campers learned about what happened to the dinosaurs that didn't go extinct and made their own gliding Archaeopteryx (an early ancestor of birds) models.  We learned what different dinosaurs ate with this online interactive and made late Cretaceous food pyramids.  Lastly, campers learned how some dinosaurs get their names and created their own species!

Creating new dinosaur species.

Some very cool teeth casts!
Wednesday's theme was fossils.  Campers got the opportunity to hold and see many different kinds of fossils.  They even took home their own pieces of coprolite (make sure to ask what it is)! The kids acted out different prehistoric animals to learn how difficult it is for fossils to form, and then made their own plaster casts of T. rex or Spinosaurus teeth!

Playing some "stones in the stomach"
Thursday was all about herbivores and carnivores.  Counselors gave campers a tour of our Prehistoric Life Exhibit to see some of the Museum's dinosaur specimens.  We learned how different adaptations helped dinosaurs eat, like gastroliths, and different types of teeth shapes.  Campers finished off their day by making Parasaurolophus masks that make sounds like Parasaurolophus may have!

A Parasaurolophus mask in the making!

Our Mastodon herd learning about population dynamics.
We finished off the week learning about animals of the Ice Age.  Campers learned how the arrival of humans affected the population of Mastodons through a game, and then made hand print Mastodons.  They learned all about some of the strange creatures of the Ice Age and how they interacted together.

A masterpiece in the works.

It's been a great week and we hope your campers had fun!  We hope to see you again soon!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Paleontology Rocks 2 Questions

We're excited to learn about paleontology this week!  You can check this blog to follow camp events, both at the museum and beyond.  Please be sure to check again on Friday for some photos from the week!

Here are some suggested questions for you to ask your camper this week:

On Monday, we will be learning about the geological time scale.
Ask me about our walk in the Diag!
Ask to see my geological time scale spiral!

On Tuesday, we will be learning about dinosaurs.
Ask me about the dinosaur I named!
Ask me what happened to all of the dinosaurs!

On Wednesday, we will be learning about fossils.
Ask my about my T. rex or Spinosaurus tooth cast!
Ask me how fossils are formed!

On Thursday, we will be learning about herbivores and carnivores.
Ask me about gastroliths (stomach stones)!
Ask me about dinosaur adaptations!

On Friday, we will be learning about life after the dinosaurs.
Ask me about my favorite Ice Age animal!
Ask me about the Mastodon extinction game!

Archaeology Quest 2 Questions

We're excited to learn about archaeology this week!  You can check this blog to follow camp events, both at the museum and beyond.  Please be sure to check again on Friday for some photos from the week!

Here are some suggested questions for you to ask your camper this week:

On Monday, we will learn about Ancient Civilizations.

Ask me about who made the first coins and ask to see mine.
Ask me about Aztec codices and ask to see mine.

On Tuesday, we will visit the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to learn about Greek Mythology.

Ask me about our trip!

On Wednesday, we will learn about underwater archaeology.

Ask me about which shipwreck we explored.
Ask me about the boat I built.

On Thursday we will visit the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to do our own archaeological dig.

Ask me about our trip!

On Friday, we will learn about what archaeologists do.

Ask me about how to read the landscape.
Ask me about our Archaeology obstacle course.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Paleontology Rocks 1

A beautiful Sauropod!
This week at Camp Explorations we learned all about paleontology.  From the beginning of Earth's history to dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles, we've discovered many new things!  On Monday, we learned all about one of our favorite topics: dinosaurs!  Campers learned how to distinguish between a dinosaur and other animals, how large dinosaurs actually were, and even got to make their own sauropods!  To top it all off, the groups dug through Styrofoam strata to find fossils and other objects.

Checking out some fossil footprints.
Tuesday was all about life before the dinosaurs.  We made paper timelines to represent the Earth's formation to now.  Ask to see your camper's timeline and note that much of life is very far from the beginning of Earth's history!  Groups also started working on their fossil artworks and saw real fossils from the Paleozoic era!

Some beautiful fossil art!
Making a timeline of the Earth!

On Wednesday, we studied fossils. Campers learned how different fossils are formed and the importance of fossil footprints.  Ask your camper what can be learned from footprints!  We also played games to learn about how rare it is for something to actually become fossilized.

Learning how fossils are formed
Studying the footprints!  Ask what happened at this scene!
A Plesiosaur sighting!
On Thursday, we learned about other prehistoric reptiles.  Campers got another tour of the Museum's Prehistoric Life Exhibit to learn about other animals that lived during the time of the dinosaurs, but were not actually dinosaurs.  We watched clips of Dinosaur Train about Sanajeh (ask why the show is wrong about the pronunciation!) and Mosasaurus to learn even more about other reptiles.  The  groups finished up their fossil art pieces, as well as made Plesiosaur decorations.

The canoe is a popular place to journal
On Friday, the campers learned how real Paleontologists work with hands-on experience!  They sifted through a dig site and found their very own fossils!  We saw even more of the Prehistoric Life Exhibit and worked on scavenger hunts of the floors.  The groups worked together to answer some fun dinosaur trivia.  See if your camper can help you answer these questions!  The week was topped off by a very special visit from our friend Sarah the Triceratops!
Finding fossils!

The campers loved Sarah!
It's been a fun and exciting week!  We hope your campers enjoyed it as much as we did!  See you around the Museum!

Archaeology Quest 1

Checking out a real atlatl
Monday camp started with some basics of archaeology!  We learned what archaeologists do and what they study.  We had a real archaeologist come in and give a presentation first thing.  She showed us lots of cool artifacts and told us about her job here at the museum.  Then, we started on some archaeological endeavors of our own! We investigated an archaic campsite, getting to sift through soil to find the artifacts and bones left behind.  We then sorted them into a large matrix and organized them the way real archaeologists would.  We also learned about mastodons and the ancient humans that hunted them and got to make our own atlatls (an ancient spear throwing device).  We also put together pottery puzzles and tried to decipher the meaning behind their designs like the bowls and pottery of certain Native American tribes.  We even investigated some replica objects of ones found at the Historic Burnham House here on campus.  We studied how archaeologist label where they found their artifacts and then made inferences about the lives of the people who used them based on placement.

Sifting through the soil for artifacts

Getting our hands a little dirty

Tuesday, was our first trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology!  We took a tour of the museum's exhibit on Egypt and got to ask lots of questions.  Then, we learned all about mummification.  We were able to go through the entire process of how the Egyptians prepared their mummies and learned about the significance of each process or artifact entombed with them.
Sacred scarab beetles that were placed over a mummy's heart

Djehutymose's coffin

Wednesday, campers learned even more about ancient Egypt.  Counselors gave a presentation on King Tutankhamen and the significance of the pyramid to the ancient Egyptians.  We then got an up close at the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx online and drew our own interpretations of these colossal architectural feats.  We also got to make our own steles (pronounced stee-lays), or ancient Egyptians version of a tombstone.  They are often found at the entrance of tombs and are covered in hieroglyphs talking about the person entombed there.  We played several games that taught us about Egyptian culture and we tested our memory from Tuesday by virtually embalming a mummy.

Drawing the Sphynx

Making a stele

Egyptian pull toys
Thursday, we took another trip to the Kelsey Museum of  Archaeology!  This time we learned about ancient toys and games and compared objects in both the ancient and modern worlds.  We had lots of fun playing board games from ancient civilizations like Egypt, Rome, and Mesopotamia.  Did you know kids in ancient cultures had yo-yos, noisemakers, dolls, rattles, and tops very similar to ours?  We went on a scavenger hunt in the exhibit gallery to find ancient objects and their modern counterparts, as well.

Example of and ancient doll made with fabric scraps

Friday, we learned about ancient art and forms of communication.  We had a presentation on petroglpyhs and pictographs in the morning where campers learned the difference between the two and the importance of storytelling through pictures.  Then we tried to unravel an ancient mystery by interpreting a a series of pictographs (ask your camper about what it represented).  We created our own stories and the paint with which to tell them by grinding reddish stones and mixing the powder with water and painting pictographs onto paper "rock walls".  Campers even got to create their own ancient art by designing a necklace with symbols that were important to them.  All in all, a super week with some super campers!

Practicing pictograms 

Making our medallions

Creating our own rock art