NAU's Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity is hosting their 13th annual Bug Camp at Willow Bend this summer. The first camp was from June 19 to 23 and the next one is from July 17 to 21, but the camp already has a long waiting list. What makes Bug Camp so popular? Bugs of course! Plus some very cool camp counselors.
Campers learn about insect natural history, behavior, and biodiversity through a series of fun projects and activities. Campers collect insects, create their own insect collections, build their own bugs, and cook and eat insect cuisine. They also go out on a night adventure where they can lure moths, and other new insects in with lights.
Campers are from 6 - 10 years old and their are 7 counselors plus 2 junior counselors for 24 campers in teams with cool names like the Ladybug Ladies, Flying Tarantulas, and Lava Locusts. This year, they were able to offer 6 scholarships for students to attend the camp. Campers come from all over Arizona, plus Colorado, Nevada, and California!
Lindsie McCabe, a PhD candidate at NAU, has been leading the Bug Camp for the past four years. Her advisor, Neil Cobb, began the Camp 13 years ago and says it seems like yesterday. Neil came in for “Ask a Scientist" and tried to answer questions from the campers: "How many total hairs are there on all the flies in the world?" and "How many baby insects are being born right now?"
At the end of camp one of the campers ran up to Lindsie and hugged her legs and said
"I love this camp I never want to leave!".
Thank you to Neil Cobb and the Bug Camp counselors for photos, information, and quotes!
Guest post by Lisa Winters, formerly of Arizona Game and Fish, and presently a STEM VISTA Member with the Grand Canyon Trust
The best ten days of the year, the Flagstaff Festival of Science, is in full swing. And this year, we had the first BioBlitz at Francis Short Pond! Organized by Rocky Mountain Research Station, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, and Friends of the Rio de Flag, the BioBlitz was an opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public to work in collaboration with biologists, naturalists, and other scientists to complete a biological inventory of the plants, animals, and organisms that live in or near the pond.
Thanks to Lisa Winters, left, of Grand Canyon Trust, and Zack Zdinak, right, of Life Drawing and Education
Stations were set up around the pond that collected information about water quality, aquatic insects, birds, plants, and fish. Over 260 students from Marshall Elementary, Flagstaff Junior Academy, and Mount Elden Middle School measured the temperature and dissolved oxygen of the water, used microscopes to identify the aquatic invertebrates they caught, wandered the pond in search of common plants, used binoculars to spot ducks and red-winged blackbirds, fished for rainbow trout, and then pulled together what they learned by constructing a life cycle diagram of an organism of their choice. In the afternoon, many community members got the same chance to explore this unique ecosystem in their backyard while contributing to the survey data collection.
Photos show Alice patiently fishing, the excitement of the catch, and measuring for data prior to release!
Additional partners of the event include the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Section, The Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon Trust, local illustrator Zack Zdinak, and more! The event was made possible through a generous grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation and the AZ Game and Fish Heritage Grant. Thank you all for the great contributions to citizen science and education in Flagstaff!
Guest Post by Moran Henn, Executive Director,
Willow Bend Environmental Education Center
What better way to help celebrate Colorado River Days than kiss some fish!?
That’s just what some lucky kids (and a few brave parents) got to do
thanks to Colorado River Days’ Annual Fish and Watersheds Science Saturday
at Willow Bend event.
This free, all ages event focused on the importance of the Colorado River,
healthy watersheds, and native fish. Participants engaged in hands-on
activities organized by numerous event partners who came together to make
the event a great success.
Activities included making paper watersheds with the AZ Trail Association,
creating nature journals to record drawings and stamps of wildlife and
nature with the Sierra Club, watching the far reaching effects of water-flow
on a 3D terrain model and learning how long objects last in ecosystems
when left behind with Oak Creek Watershed Council, making origami boats
and rowing in a real river ducky with Grand Canyon Youth, learning about
the ecology of aquatic worms and snails with Friends of the Rio, seeing
the effects of rain on the watershed with Willow Bend, and the highlight
of the event... meeting live native fish up close and in person with the
USGS aquatic lab team. Over 4 species of native fish were on display,
including the Humpback Chub and Rainbow Trout.
The public experienced, in a fun and engaging way, just how important the Colorado River is, not just to Flagstaff, but to everyone who depends on healthy flowing rivers.
Information on other Colorado River Days activities can be found here, and consider subscribing to Willow Bend's newsletter to stay informed about upcoming Science Saturday programs and other events.
The 4th grade students at Killip Elementary School have been studying alternative energy systems to determine what energy source would be the best for their school and neighborhood. The three teachers (Mrs.’s Hansen, Hart, and Taylor) have over 90 energetic students participating in this unit! Note that they will soon have a fourth teacher to reduce class sizes.
Three Flagstaff STEM Professionals presented three 25-minute sessions to the classes. Kelly Paduchowski from Prometheus SOLAR brought in a large solar panel, and talked to the students about the great solar energy potential in Arizona. Kelly is a Project Manager at Promethus Solar. She is also a certified photovoltaic installation professional. Kelly has been highlighted in a previous post when she represented Prometheus at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.
Ken Kotalik from Primus Wind Power brought in a wind turbine and talked to the students about having both gride-tied wind power and also off-the-grid wind systems that could also include solar panels. Ken is the Director of North American Sales, for Primus Wind Power. He has been working in and around the renewable energy field for 15 years and he built his own passive and active solar straw bale house in Flagstaff.
Lucas Bair, from the Grand Canyon Research and Monitoring Center of the US Geological Survey, showed a video on hydropower and illustrated to students how a dam works to generate electric power. Lucas is an environmental and natural resource economist with expertise in water resource and energy economics and policy. His research includes natural resource valuation and decision and benefit-cost analysis with a focus on resources in Glen and Grand Canyons along with large river systems such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin and the Brazilian Amazon.
STEM City and Killip Elementary School thank you for your educational and engaging presentations to the students! Stay tuned, as the students are now finalizing their reports on which of these three alternative energy sources should be used to power their school and neighborhood!
Guest Blog by Karin Wadsack, Project Director, Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University’s Dynamic and Active Systems Lab (DASL) in the department of mechanical engineering partnered with the NAU Upward Bound summer program to engage high school students in university research on energy harvesting and the development of drone technology. Twenty-one high school soon-to-be juniors, from across Northern Arizona, tested solar panels, built electrical circuits, and participated in a “wildlife-tracking hide-and-seek” exercise using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The students spent five weeks on campus at NAU learning about climate change and energy science and engineering. They performed hands-on activities and experiments, and went on a ‘field trip’ to the Engineering building to perform outdoor activities with the UAVs.
“These experiences were invaluable for our UB students,” said Jacob Lesandrini, an instructional specialist with the Upward Bound Program. “They were pushed to understand the science behind energy, energy consumption, and the future of energy use in the country.”
DASL faculty advisor Dr. Michael Shafer and students Gregory Hahn, Heather Cantin, Lauren Adoram-Kershner, Kellan Rothfus, and Matthew Robertson worked with the high school students over the course of several lessons and activities.
DASL is currently engaged in two National Science Foundation grants: one to develop and test energy harvesting technologies for use on marine mammals tracking tags, and one to develop and deploy an open-source design for unmanned aerial vehicles to be used in tracking wildlife transmitter signals for ecological research.
STEM doesn't stop on the weekends in STEM City! Saturday, April 2nd was busy for families taking kids to Home Depot for the kids workshop, and then they wore their orange aprons to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center for Science Saturday: Energy!
NAU's Wind for Schools program was there to help kids make their own wind turbine, and to showcase their entry for the upcoming United States Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition. Kelly Paduchowski demonstrated Prometheus Solar's Plug n Play solar system, and Findlay Toyota shared the insides of the new Prius.
Clockwise from top left: Kelly Paduchowski with Prometheus Solar has Rowen Mahoney use solar power to run electronics; NAU Senior mechanical engineering student Michael Wertz explains their wind turbine entry; Michael Jaramillo of Findlay Auto uses his truck-based grill to feed the crowd; and NAU's Wind for School group at Willow Bend.
The next stop was the City of Flagstaff's Sustainability Program Fix-it Clinic at Local Works. Thank you to Local Works for donating the space and thanks to our wonderful fixers for donating their Saturday to help 70 community members with 88 broken items. We had an 80% fix rate!
On Sunday, the Museum of Northern Arizona, showed "Navajo Math Circles", a film by George Csicsery about the Navajo Math Circles project. You can see a preview of the film here and learn more about this successful and unique math education project here that empowers students in math and in life!
Did you miss these? Check the STEM Events Calendar to find local STEM happenings to attend! The next Kids Workshop at Home Depot will be Saturday, May 7th from 9-12 and they will be making birdhouses. You can register here.
The next Saturday Science Day at Willow Bend will be the same day from 9 am - 1 pm (show up anytime) and will have hands-on activities exploring the Rio de Flag!
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator