Nature’s Toolbox

Hello camp families! The sixth week of camp has come to a close. We had a lot of fun this week. Down below is a brief summary of what we did each day as well as some pictures. 

Monday

Campers learned about biodiversity and its importance. Afterwards we went on a walk around the museum terrace and garden to survey the area by writing or drawing what we saw in our journals.

Inside the community room we have a mural which highlights Michigan wildlife and plant life. We had campers do a seek and find to familiarize themselves with these things.

 

Another activity we did involved field guides. First we learned what is a field guide and what purpose it serves. Then we made our own field guides by either using the mural in the community room or plants and animals that we saw on our garden walk. 

The weather was nice on Monday so we had a poetry reading outside. The poems we read were all about nature. After the poetry reading, some campers wrote poems of their own in their journals.

Tuesday

Campers learned about the benefits of native plants. Some of these benefits include helping to slow down/prevent soil erosion, maintaining balance among organisms and supporting pollinators, just to name a few. We then talked about threats to native plants, such as climate change and invasive species. 

The older campers also did a mock scenario where they had to decide how a hypothetical piece of land should be used. 

One of the Michigan native plants that we talked about earlier was the Purple Coneflower, or Echinacea purpurea. Campers got to plant their own coneflower to take home with them. Not only is this plant beautiful it is also pretty neat. It attracts insects such as butterflies and honeybees. Once the flowers have bloomed and begins to dry, the seeds will attract small songbirds. And on top of this Coneflower is drought tolerant. 

Another thing that we did was a leaf identification activity. First we talked about characteristics of leaves. Once we went over that we had campers try to identify a leaf that we gave them. The way that we had them identify the leaves was by means of a dichotomous key that was broken up into stations. 

A craft that we did with the campers on this day was making paper flowers. These flowers could be folded a certain way so that when you add them to a container of  water they unfold and “bloom” right before your eyes. Some campers used their paper flowers to make cards for some special.

Wednesday

Campers started the day with some fun animal yoga. 

Campers went on a scavenger hunt throughout the second floor of the museum. This time campers were looking for animals from five different biomes; aquatic, desert, tundra, forest and tropical rainforest. They were given a BiomeDex to record animals they found. In their BiomeDex they could draw a picture of the animal, write an adaptation and then come up with a superpower based off of its description.

Food Chain Craft

A craft that we did on this day was a food chain craft. First we learned what a food chain shows us, which is the transfer of energy from one organism to another. The first source of energy is the sun of course. The sun shines down and producers, aka plants, take the sun’s light and convert it to chemical energy. Then consumers, like the orange fish in our craft, get energy by eating the producers, algae and then another consumer, like the shark, gets its energy by eating the orange fish.

Track Story

We also learned about animal tracks. Animal tracks can tell us what type of animals were present in a location. Then depending on how they are arranged we can be detectives and put together a possible scenario that occurred. Which is what we did with some track stories. After we were done with the track stories, campers got to make their own with rubber stamps.

Thursday

Thursday was our trip to the Arbor. We walked over from the museum. Once we got to the Arb we split up into groups. We had two main activities to do this day. Both of the activities were essentially scavenger hunts. The first one was a color hunt. We had a swatch of colors that campers had to look for throughout the Arb. The second scavenger hunt was a more traditional one. In it campers had to find things such as nests, spiderwebs, and other animal habitats.

 

Friday

Campers learned about abiotic and biotic factors. After learning about what that means they then played a sorting game to see if they could correctly identify the terms they were given. What was also important in this activity was to realize that these factors coexist within an ecosystem and are either affecting or being affected by one another, directly or indirectly. 

We played a game called the carbon dioxide game to help campers visualize how human activities enhance the greenhouse effect. We went to the Diag to play this. The setup was simple. We drew two circles with chalk on the ground one smaller and within the other one. The smaller one was the Earth and the larger one was the Earth’s atmosphere. The game has several rounds. The first round starts with two campers acting as CO2 molecules. They must choose a place in the Earth’s atmosphere and stand there without moving their feet. The other campers are sunbeams and must enter the Earth and come back out without being touched by the CO2 molecules. If they get tagged then they are now stuck and can now tag other players. Each round campers pull an action card that has a human activity that can increase or decrease the number of CO2 molecules.

Common Water was another game that campers played today. This game was meant to illustrate how multiple users of water resources can affect water quality and quantity. We first went over some information with campers. Such as how every living thing on Earth needs water in order to survive. Also how water is a renewable resource. However just because that’s the case doesn’t mean we can take it for granted. We should still practice conservation and practical use of water so that our water resources have enough time to replenish themselves and everyone has access to clean water. There were four rounds altogether. At the beginning there aren’t that many water users, but as time goes by an increase in population and things such as factories, schools, hospitals and farms increase and so does the number of water users. 

Campers learned about 4 different aquatic ecosystems: Lakes and Ponds, Rivers and Streams, Wetlands, and Riparian Areas. They were then assigned an aquatic ecosystem to craft.