Saturday, January 5, 2013

Potato Creek State Park Nature Center

As part of our whirlwind nature center visits over the last week, we stopped at Potato Creek State Park Nature Center. I was all ready to use our recently acquired State Parks pass, but didn't find anyone at the gate.  I was amazed at all this open space that was undeveloped and full of "nature". The website offers a neat wildlife guide. Four miles after we hit the guard shack, we found the Nature Center.

The displays look at the history, including Darcy Worster's involvement in making Worster Lake a reality.

Information about the Spring House. How cool that it remains at constant temps year round!

Exhibits looked at how the area went from Farmland to Grassland.

Upstairs the exhibits were dedicated to children. There were flaps to lift . . .

Arms to measure . . . this seems to be popular with my kids these days!

Books to read . . . this little guy has certainly been enjoying books these days,  even looking at them in the car. He found a few books he recognized from home.

Buttons to push . . .

Specimens to view . . .

And puppets to present . . . loved this puppet stage! How cute! The puppets look well loved!

Downstairs, there were rotating exhibits, like cattails, acorns, sweet gum balls, snakes skins, etc. We even saw a live snake shedding its skin.

There were several live animals inside, such as a salamander, frogs, turtles, snakes, etc.

The wildlife viewing station was also a favorite . . . my son had to go get my nature bag for binoculars and a field guide. There were so many cardinals today! We counted at least 14 at once. How beautiful and striking. I love how the orange beaks of the females stand out.

It sounds like they rely on donations to feed the birds . . . this would be a great project to help as a family. Feed adds up and any donations are appreciated at many of the centers we visited. The naturalist told us about the different types of squirrels we saw, as my boys thought they were just different ages. In reality, we saw the red squirrel and fox squirrel. We saw the usual feeder birds. Speakers piped in the sounds from outside. It was easier to hear here than at Pokagon State Park. My son found youtube videos on my phone of cardinal bird calls and other bird music. Kind of neat how technology can help us learn! We saw chickadees, nuthatches, the tufted titmouse, American Tree Sparrow, etc. 

Technology was also used for more information in the center.

Thinking about it . . . books were a new technology at one time, back during Gutenberg's time.

We had a nice visit and enjoyed combining it with sledding! I can see opportunities with repeat visits with iSpy, scavenger hunts, animal guides, etc. Watch for upcoming ideas . . .