On April 10, the Friends offered a Destination for Exploration as part of the 3-day UW Campus-wide “Science Expeditions” Open House. At the entrance to Picnic Point, Doris Dubielzig and Gisela Kutzbach greeted visitors and gave each family or child a booklet containing a map of Picnic Point, with our three exploration stations indicated on the cover. Doris coordinated the event and Tom C T Yin was the photographer.
The booklet also contains activities and challenges related to those three stations. With “decent” weather, more than 60 attendees enjoyed experiencing the Preserve on a day that held promise for the wonders of spring, but grew increasingly windy and chilly by mid-afternoon.
At the Rock Wall, Geology Professor Phil Brown and Science Olympiad coach Scot Moss introduced visitors to the origins and kinds of rocks in the stone wall. Two tables held excellent labeled samples of the rocks in the wall.
At the Tree Station in front of the newly restored iron gates, Friends Board members Matt Chotlos and Friends President-elect Will Vuyk showed visitors how to identify leafless trees by their branch and bark pattens. Children were given “tree cookies” (wood cross sections) on a string and shown how to calculate their section’s age by counting the annual rings.
On the hillside by the bat house, a Birding Station, hosted by gifted naturalists Paul Noeldner, Ashley Olah and Chuck Keleny, provided strategies for identifying birds. Guests were introduced to the Merlin app, and could look through binoculars and a spotting scope into the spring sky and across the lake. Although a red-tailed hawk and turkey vultures soared above us (and an osprey was sighted!), it was generally too windy for good birding. Sonia Haeckel and her sons played Bird Bingo and made “binoculars” and bark rubbings with children.
We heard satisfied remarks from the presenters, who already volunteered to share their knowledge for Science Expeditions 2023. Some children and their families remained interested, engaged and playful for the full 90 minutes, especially while in the company of their friends.