Thursday, April 13, 2017

4-H: Roller Coasters, Bird Nests, St. Patrick's Day, and Slithery Snakes

I decided to do one post to catch up on what we've been doing in our 4-H STEM club.

We learned about microscopes using the two student microscopes we have.   First we went over the parts of the microscope, then we did the usual two microscope labs - a letter from the newspaper and an onion skin slide.  Both are very easy for kids to do, and the onion skin has the added benefit of showing them plant cells and how important dye is for some specimens.  We also looked at some of the prepared slides that came with one of the microscopes.

We learned about the physics of roller coasters and built our own marble roller coasters using straws, tape, and Legos (for supports).

We learned about the purpose and types of birds nests, and then built our own.  Using primarily natural materials with a few additions (ribbon, string, sticks, leaves, feathers), they had to build a nest in the intersection of two hangers.  The nest had to support golf balls when lifted off the table. 

We marched in an EXTREMELY cold St. Patrick's Day Parade.  Our local parade is one of the largest parades in NJ so it's a pretty big deal around here.  But it was about 20 degrees that day, and windy.   We did have a few members come out to walk with us (in addition to Squidy and Vicki who weren't given a choice in the matter).  We all bundled up as much as we could.

And last but not least, Galactica made another visit to the club.  She's much bigger than she was even a year ago.  She's about four feet long at this point and probably won't grow too much bigger.   The kids were able to look at some pictures with snakes hidden in their natural environment and see if they could find the snakes, they were able to take a close look at snake shed under magnifiers and our microscopes, and they were able to do an interactive quiz I put together on Powerpoint.  The quiz can be found on Google Docs.  And of course, they were able to come meet Galactica, and hold her if they wanted to.  

Galactica was a big hit this year, even among the kids who met her last year.  During my presentation at the beginning of our meeting, she clearly showed her arboreal tendencies by climbing all over my head and slithering down over my face.  

Our next meeting isn't until May, so I should have plenty of time to catch up on my other posts and be ready to share our activities in a much more timely fashion. 

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