Friday, August 14, 2015

Junior Naturalists

Tree factory rules
Woo hoo!
On Monday, campers learned all about trees!  The diversity, composition, and age of tree species in an area can determine its health, age, and what kind of wildlife live there.  We made out own tree IDials to identify local trees from their most prominent characteristic: their leaves! We also took a closer look at leaves and their inner workings by making our leaf art rubbings.  This gave us a chance to make some cool pictures as well as closely study the veins and subtler features of leaves.  We also played a few games to learn about how trees function as organisms and within a community.

 "Every Tree for Itself" had campers scrambling for "resources" from their stationary position as trees within a forest.  Our Tree Factory assigned campers position within a single tree.  Each person had to do their own job as the leaves, heartwood, xylem, etc. to try and work as a team to create a functioning tree.

Every tree for themselves!

Tuesday was our trip to the arb!  We brought our ecology bingo sheets along to keep us searching for all the abiotic and biotic factors in the forest ecosystem.  We played lots of games and took in all the incredible flora and fauna the forest has to offer.


Peony garden

Stamping our tracks!

Wednesday was all about scat and tracks.  Our tricky tracks activity had campers putting together a story from tracks left by animal at a river.  Which tracks are older?  Who made these tracks?  What happened here?  these are all important questions to people who live and work in areas with a lot of wildlife.  We also made our own animal tracks artwork.

Finishing touches
 Using stamp pads and track stamps, we made our own scene.  Tracking animals isn't all about tracks, though.  Using our hands on scat kit, we learned to identify different Michigan animals using their scat.  We even took a animal scat quiz to test our new knowledge.

What happened here?!

Oh no, erosion!
Thursday, we focused on watersheds!  Before the rest of our activities, campers made an ecology cootie catcher to teach them about different abiotic and biotic factors in different ecosystems.  The Huron River Watershed council came for a visit to teach us a little bit about the watershed many of us live in.We learned about erosion, slope, temperature, macro-invertebrates (bugs) and how all of them relate to river health.

Testing temperature

Hunting for macroinvertebrates

Trying our wild edibles!
Friday was our last day of camp!  We learned all about Michigan wildlife.  We started off our day with some wildlife riddles.  Looking around our exhibits on the 3rd floor and solving the clues in the riddles, we were able to find all sorts of fun facts about local animals.  We had a special visitor for one of our activities, as well.

Hognose snake!

Our friend Nick showed up to teach us about animals he works with at a nature center as well as wild edibles we can find in the area.  We were able to see and learn about different amphibians and reptiles found right here in Washtenaw county!  We finished up our day with a craft.  We used strips of paper to weave one of North America's most beloved symbols, a great northern loon.

Trying out Bouncing Bet!

Barbecued meal worms.  YUM!

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