Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chaplin Nature Center, Ark City, KS

Recently our homeschool group visited the Chaplin Nature Center in Ark City, KS. It's about an hour from our home and was well worth the drive! If you live in the area or plan on coming through, make plans to check it out!
The project our kids worked on was checking the water quality of the creek not far from the nature center. Their job was to scoop out samples of the muck from the creek bed and investigate the creatures that they found. It was a cool day, and it never occurred to me that a creek would be teeming with such life late in October. But it was! We found lots of baby frogs, and I can't remember for the life of me all the other creatures, but there were tons. Next time maybe I'll take notes! We dug through the muck collected in the nets, some with fingers, some with sticks. The children were given boots to wade out further into the creek, and they had fun doing that. Here are some pics of our group:

You can probably see the various ages in our group and the number of adults there, too. What a difference from "school field trips!" Our guide, Shawn, was very nice and guided us through the project in identifying what we had found. On our hike back to the building, Shawn asked if we wanted to go down to the bridge where we might be able to see a snake. Of course, we did, and we saw a snake! We also saw deer tracks and raccoon tracks. Then we went inside to evaluate using a numerical scale how the water faired. It was "good," I believe. Each type of invertebrate we found was worth a certain number of points. The more and varied the invertebrates are, the higher the point value, the better the water quality.

After our "lesson" we ate a bagged lunch and then let the kids go explore. I plan on going back at some point. I will probably wait until it gets warm again! One thing I forgot to mention is that the nature center building has lots of mounted animals in it that are really cool to look at. There are other activities in there, but the most memorable are the mounted animals that most kids don't get a chance to see up close.

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