Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Animal Tracking

We spent a wonderful day at Pisgah Wildlife Education Center.  It is always a treat to travel to Pisgah National Forest and spend the day.

Little Man and I traversed the trail along the Davidson River before his class started.  Birds were chirping and the wind lightly rustled the leaves as we hiked.  We stopped and looked into the clear, mountain water to spot several large trout.

We also walked the nature path with friends before class.  It is too early for the wildflowers in the area.  Another month and we should be greeted by mountain laurel and rhododendrons.  Squirrels busily jumped from limb to limb high above our heads, as we walked.

Ranger Matt conducted the class on animal tracking.  He told the class why wildlife biologist track animals and what types of data is collected by tracking animals.  Some animals they track using radio collars.  Others they track using GPS collars.  In other areas they may use infrared or thermal imaging to keep track of herds.  He even told us they use bio-luminescence to track trout they put into rivers.

Ranger Matt explained that animal tracks are also a way they keep tabs on wildlife in the area.  Whether the tracks are footprints, hair, fur, or scat it tells wildlife biologist about the animals in the area.

The students made plaster molds of different animals.  While the molds hardened, Ranger Matt took the class on a hike to discover animal tracks.  So, down to the river we went.  We ended up on a fairly sandy area of riverbank and the hunt to find animal tracks began.  Fairly fast, the students spotted a track and then another.  Both tracks were of a black bear.  Of course, this thrilled the class.

Finally, we made it back to the classroom and the students were instructed on the use of a field guide for identifying animals by their tracks.  A table in the classroom held various clues, mainly scat and paw prints, for the students to identify.  (The scat was not real.  Just a mold like the paw prints.)  They worked through the field guide and jotted down their answers.  Then Ranger Matt showed them a Power-Point to see if they answered correctly.

We always enjoy our learning opportunities at Pisgah.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ping Pong Ball launchers

Engineering was the topic with Mr. Jack.  It has been a while since they have used straws and masking tape to build an structure.  So, excitement built as the task was presented to the class.  Imagination and engineering rolled into one and they were set loose to build their ping pong ball launcher.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hendersonville Field Trip

We ventured up the mountain and into North Carolina today for a fun outing with our home school friends.  Of course the spring like temperatures took a nose dive and reminded us that winter was not over just yet.  A blustery day in the mid 20s to begin with and a high of 31by afternoon!  We didn't let it stop us.

Our first stop was the Hendersonville Lapidary and Mineral Museum.  This little gem was very educational.  We had a docent led tour and they split our group into ten people each.

We learned about minerals and gems in general.  Then we learned about minerals and gems specific to North Carolina.

We learned what lapidary meant and saw many examples.  Lapidary is what someone does with rocks and minerals.  For example, making the stone into jewelry or art.


We learned the story behind the Hendersonville Meteorite rock and got to see it.

We learned about geodes and how they were formed.  We even got to see the docent crack open a geode.

We learned about fossils and saw many different types.

This was a great tour and piqued our interest even more into the subject of minerals and gems.

After the museum tour, we grabbed lunch at Mike's on Main.  It's a nice old fashion soda fountain with reasonably priced lunch options. 

Then we visited the Mast General Store.  It is always fun to walk through and look at all the different things inside.  Of course, the barrels of candy attracts the kiddos.

Finally, we made our way to TEAM ECCO Aquarium.  We love looking at salt-water aquarium fish.  Their displays are nice and have plenty of information about the fish in the tanks.

The kids loved the reptiles and amphibians in the aquarium, as well.

We got to see the shark and ray feeding.  The lady doing the feeding provided plenty of background information about the sharks and ray, as she feed them.  The kids were entertained greatly by Charlotte the Ray.  She is quite the character!

This was a fun and informative day trip!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tibetan Monks

Our library system hosted the Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery.  We were able to attend the opening ceremony and learn about the monks.

The ceremony consisted of the traditional chanting of the monks with each monk singing a full chord of three notes. The puja was accompanied by symbolic hand gestures, cymbals, drums, horns and flutes.

It was very interesting to see and hear the chanting.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring has Sprung ...

We took advantage of the weather and headed out on a Spring Nature hike with our home school friends.  We love exploring the USC-Upstate Palmetto Trail!

Small wildflowers were popping up from the leaf litter .  They were so delicate and added little splashes of color to the forest path.

We stumbled upon mating frogs in a muddy pool of water.  They were fascinating to watch! Many had already laid their eggs and the kids enjoyed looking at the sacs.

We found many tracks around the mud pools.  This one is definitely canine and probably a coyote.  We also saw deer tracks and racoon tracks.

 Enjoying the view of Lawson Fork Creek.