Archive for July, 2012

July 30, 2012

Buzzzzzzing Campers Land at Phipps

by Melissa Harding

Last week, campers were buzzzzzzzing with excitement. Why? Because there were bugs everywhere!

At A Bug’s World, our 4&5 year-old insect camp, we searched high and low for insects of all kinds. It didn’t take us long; we found dragonflies sailing in graceful arcs over the ponds, ladybugs on leaves and even potato bugs and ants along the dirt. Armed with magnifying glasses, campers looked for compound eyes, wings and a neat mouth-part called a proboscis.

We learned about ladybugs, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, bees, and ants; even cockroaches!

We went hunting for bugs around the Conservatory, played games and sang bug songs.

We had some special guests this week. Christina Neumann, of Burg Bees, taught campers about the importance of bees as pollinators. We tasted honey from her personal apiary and saw how it is taken out of the hives. Scott Creary, Phipps horticulturist and resident IPM expert, taught campers how bugs like ladybugs and lacewings can help plants by eating garden pests. He even brought some insect friends along for the class!

We had a very buzzzzzy week!

The above photos were taken by Julia Petruska and Christie Lawry.

July 30, 2012

High School Internship Wraps Up

by Melissa Harding

Thursday marked the last day of the 2012 summer high school internship.
The following is written by Kate Borger, High School Internship Coordinator.

For six weeks each summer, eight high school students take part in a unique and unforgettable learning experience at Phipps.  Through a combination of intensive hands-on work with the Phipps Science Education and Horticulture staff, classes, documentary films, readings and field trips, our summer internship program exposes teenagers to environmental issues, gardening, plant science, healthy living and a range of “green” careers.

This past summer, Denise Porter and Mberwa Mada, students at Westinghouse and Allderdice High Schools respectively, returned for their second year in the program, taking on a leadership role, as we expanded the interns’ vegetable-growing experience with cooking workshops (thanks to Nancy Hanst and friends), along with the opportunity to sell fresh produce at our Wednesday Farmers’ Market.

Field trips took the interns to diverse destinations from the woods of Schenley Park and Tom’s Run to the green buildings that house WYEP and Conservation Consultants Inc. on the South Side to the botany labs at the University of Pittsburgh.

Our eight interns also had a chance to teach younger children about the importance of plants through our Discovery program and a partnership with East End Cooperative Ministry summer camp.

Last but not least, armed with Nikon cameras, each intern had an opportunity  to develop his or her photographic eye through photography classes run by our department director, Molly Steinwald.

In the end, the internship provided an invaluable summer for all involved.  As one intern commented, “Caring about my planet has increased. The whole internship was about personal responsibility.”

All photos in the above post were taken by Kate Borger.

July 25, 2012

Photosynthesis Gallery

by Melissa Harding

The campers from Photosynthesis digital photography camp took some really beautiful images.
Check them out in the gallery below!

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These pictures are great examples of how framing, lighting and perspective can really work together.

July 24, 2012

Home Connections: Painting with Natural Objects

by Melissa Harding

The Home Connections series features ways that you can teach simple environmental education concepts to your child at home.

In this Home Connections post, we are going to throw our paintbrushes away. Instead of brushes, I am going to talk about some creative and natural items you can use to make painting more fun and exciting. Children are often delighted just by the idea of painting with unusual items, not to mention they often get really great results.

Swapping out a brush for cut veggies can be an easy way to create fun shapes. I like to use potatoes and carrots for our smallest students, as they are simple shapes and can easily be grasped. In this case, I recommend cutting pieces a little larger for easier manipulation by little hands. For older children, cutting vegetables to make interesting shapes can be really fun. Bell peppers, apples and pears look really great cut in half with the seeds left intact. Kale and swiss chard can make neat leaf prints and broccoli can create bumpy patterns. Explore your garden and see what you can come up with!

Painting with cooked pasta creates interesting lines. Drag spaghetti across the paper to make “worm tracks” and roll spiraled pasta to create “caterpillars”; wagon wheels can be “eyes” and bow ties “butterflies”. Cooking the pasta beforehand makes it more easily manipulated and it is easier to press it into the paper. If you cook too much, you can always eat the leftovers!

Leaves and Pine Needles
A branch of pine needles or handful of leaves can act as a natural brush. However, finding just the right “brush” can be a fun way to get outside and exploring the yard or park. While you are out there, look for other flowers or branches to use.

In our programs, we are always looking for creative crafts to try. Looking in the yard or the fridge can be inspiring when nothing else seems to work. Poke your head in your own cupboards and see what you can use at home!

The above photos were taken by Christie Lawry.

July 23, 2012

Photosynthesis: Not Just for Plants!

by Melissa Harding

Last week, Photosynthesis was not just for plants; it was also the name of our 8&9 year-old photography camp.  Just like the previous photo camp, our focus was on creating art through photography. Campers learned ways to look at light and shadows, perspective, symmetry, and patterns. They also learned how to use lines and framing to direct the viewer’s eye.

However, we did more than just take pictures of the Conservatory. Campers used the photography principles that they learned to create interesting images, like their own I Spy-type puzzles and halved photos based on symmetry concepts.

They also learned that manipulating lighting and reflections can make a unique photo.

Since we had so much fun doing it last time, campers created props for silly portraits as well.

These campers took some really beautiful pictures and had a lot of fun doing it!

If you are interested in signing up a camper aged 8&9, there is still time. We are running one more camp for that age this summer.
Grow It, Cook It, Eat It, August 6-10, 9:30-noon
This camp teaches campers how to create a garden, harvest vegetables and then turn them into delicious healthy snacks.
Sign up today!

July 19, 2012

Look, Don’t Touch: David Sobel on Environmental Education

by Melissa Harding

Molly Steinwald, our department head and professional photographer, recently collaborated with Orion magazine to provide pictures for David Sobel’s latest article Look, Don’t Touch: The Problem with Environmental Education. Orion, a bimonthly nature magazine with a mission to reconnect human with the earth, publishes wide-ranging articles with a “broad philosophy of nature”. Sobel, the author of Place-Based Education and Beyond Ecophobia, is a staunch believer in getting children outside and connected to nature. His article is a thoughtful look at the need for more hands-on natural experiences in the field of environmental education.

“The big question is: what’s the most effective way to parent and educate children so that they will grow up to behave in environmentally responsible ways? Or, more specifically, what kinds of learning, or what kinds of experience, will most likely shape young adults who want to protect the environment, serve on conservation commissions, think about the implications of their consumer decisions, and minimize the environmental footprints of their personal lives and the organizations where they work?”
-David Sobel

Arguing for more room to get dirty and go off the trail, Sobel cites a study from Cornell that shows these kinds of childhood “wild nature” experiences do much to shape the environmental behavior of adults. He laments the culture of “Look, don’t touch” that pervades much of environmental education today, but also shows positive examples of what is possible.

This article is a great read for any parent or educator who wants to create positive environmental behaviors in children. For more reading and discussion, check out this post on the article by Orion staff.

While Molly’s pictures are not readily available in the online version of this article, you can see more of her work at her website and also throughout this post.

All the above pictures in this post were taken by Molly Steinwald.

July 18, 2012

Photos from the Shutterbugs Gallery

by Melissa Harding

Check out some of the great pictures taken by the Shutterbugs campers.

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 They made great use of perspective, lighting, framing, and composition to create unique images of the Conservatory.
Aren’t they beautiful?


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