Monday, July 15, 2013

H2O Festival!

On Saturday, Woodlawn Nature Center hosted a WATER festival! There were several activities and stations centered around H2O, which is such a valuable commodity in our lives. There were pictures of how we use water to find in the woods. As I talked to different children and families, we talked about the many, many ways we use water in our everyday lives. We started thinking about basics, such as brushing our teeth and drinking water, but we also use water for cooking, bathing, flushing toilets, watering the garden, recreation, swimming, kayaking, and more! I am always amazed that we live so close to 20% of the world's available fresh water--it is nearby in the Great Lakes. Having lived in Nevada, the town was quite dry that only had 10 trees in the whole town. I look out here and find 30 plus trees in any direction. 

We have so many great resources in the area centered on water. We recently did a watershed treasure hunt where we explored the many places to connect with water in Elkhart county. We had a blast as a family and were surprised at how many places we have to interact with water in Elkhart. There were lots of people fishing!

Wellfield Botanic Gardens is one place to connect with water. It is beautiful! It has a unique history, has a pond, river, simulated river, and local access to the area well field. It's kind of neat to think this was the source of hydraulic energy and water for the city since the 1800s. And it's beautiful! I was excited to see a bank stabilization project while at Envirofest recently. Emma Wynn, the Education Director, brought a water cycle activity. She was excellent at interacting with the children on an individual basis.

It was also a treat to have the Science2Go Bus! I am so amazed by this vehicle, the teaching, and resources available through ETHOS. Here is a recent review of an astronomy class on the bus. I hope local teachers and schools are taking advantage of this great resource. I appreciate all the investors and developers of this project.  

Outside, there was a water molecule activity and related videos. How cool is it to have a TV screen on the side of your ride? 

Technology is seamlessly integrated with the explorations and learning activities on the bus. I loved seeing the children out finding insects to look at under the scopes. Love the multi use iPad Mini , too! My husband checked out many of the apps they have available to add to our devices.  

Steve's Gym also did a presentation of their type of tae kwon do, meaning "blue wave". I loved this additional aspect--science and nature can encompass many connections to other disciplines. 

There was even some brick breaking!

They have a special family pricing . . . we need that with our group of boys! I'm sure it would be good for us as well.

In addition to these activities, I coordinated and planned additional activities for the day, including a story time. All the Water in the World is a fun book for this topic! We also had music playing (We All Live Downstream) from the Banana Slug String Band--it was on my birthday wish list and my mom delivered. Thanks! Loved hearing songs about caddisflies!

As part of this, we did a demonstration of reducing all the water in the world down to a 5 gallon bucket . . . most of it is salt water and unavailable for drinking and household use. After taking 2 cups out, we find that 1 1/2 cups is frozen in polar regions, icebergs, and glaciers. So, only 1/2 cup is really available as fresh water. 

When it comes down to it, we really only have a drop of a 5-gallon bucket available to use on a regular basis. That's really rather powerful! In this case, I showed the simulation to the girl that then shared it with her siblings and cousin. Let them teach! :-)

It was fun to find a click beetle. A couple fell down from the trees on the tables. I've read several books about these, but it's different to actually hear them click and see them flip around. I'm learning as we go through each season! The cicada killer seemed a little angry, but was easily found near the swing set. 



Some children explored a pretend pond. What attention!

It was really neat to meet different families and community members! This family heard about the activity from In the Bend. I'm glad they do. I was impressed by their adventurous spirits and curiosity. It's fun to meet people in person that I've met online.

Kendra Roberts, from Veritas Academy, brought in an activity of a fish over time. She used the book, A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History , to show pollution that came over time and the subsequent clean up efforts. The book can be found in the wigwam at Woodlawn Nature Center. 

The children got to help "pollute" the river, according to the actions in the book. It was a great visual activity. Thanks for joining us, Kendra! I loved this!

It was pretty yucky by the end. All the water we have now is all the water in the world! We're drinking the same water that was around in the time of dinosaurs. While damage may have been done, we can make changes to help keep our water clean. 

There was also another water cycle activity. 

And a watermelon seed spitting contest!

Ryann Waite, from Bristol, also came to share her love of macroinvertebrates. She pulled river water and rocks with plenty of great species inside. She studied these in college, so had good resources. We pulled out the microscopes and looked at different things squirming around!

I loved seeing how well she interacted with the children. There is an inherent WOW factor with the macros!

I heard her say, "Just wait a little while to see what comes out of the rocks", mentioning that scuds often scurry out eventually.

There were also recreational water games that ended up in a big water fight! I would say my oldest was pretty soaked by the end. Makes me want to have a water fight with him this next week with the hot temps. 


We also tried giant bubbles! What is so fascinating about bubbles, especially gigantic ones?

My husband did an impromptu water trick, swinging a bucket with water in it around without spilling a drop! My kids were amazed with centripetal forces at work!

All in all, it was a fun day to interact with a precious resource of water. A big huge THANK YOU goes out to all the presenters, Woodlawn Nature Center staff that helped, my husband and family for putting up with my busyness while preparing the event, and all the people who came to participate in the activity! It was great to see many new faces at the Nature Center! Please join us again!