Archive for July 5th, 2013

July 5, 2013

In with the Interns: A Full First Two Weeks

by fairchildchallengeatphipps


In with the Interns is our new segment featuring the 2013 high school interns; this segment will explore what they do, learn and experience this summer. Written by Kate Borger, this segment will also feature original words and artwork from the interns.

If you ever feel worried about the fate of the world, take heart. The Phipps high school interns, given their capacity for hard work, open-mindedness and true concern for others and for the environment, are living, teenage examples of hope for the future. As they enthusiastically learn about plant science and sustainable solutions to the daunting environmental issues we face, we can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing there are youth like them to help take on these problems with commitment and intelligence.

Since their first day in the job on June 24th, these eight high school students have been working with Phipps horticulture staff to help beautify the Conservatory. In addition, they planned and planted their own vegetable beds, learned cooking techniques with members of Slow Food Pittsburgh, and studied basic botany with Pitt biology post-doc, Alison Hale.

This second week was focused on food systems and how our food choices affect our bodies and the environment.  The documentary film, Food Inc. and Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules, spurred on thoughtful and lively discussions in which we were joined by Chatham food studies student, Hanna Mosca (who is also our department’s amazing intern).  Additionally, we were all inspired by a visit to a local urban vegetable garden, created and maintained by Pitt students in Oakland. The bottom line: individuals have the power to make choices daily that can improve our relationship with the environment. Talk about inspiring!

Photo by Kiehl Jackson.

July 5, 2013

Summer Camp Recap: We Like Dirt

by Melissa Harding


Summer Camp Recap is our Friday seasonal segment featuring our summer camp programs. This is the place for camp parents to find pictures of their campers in action and see all the fun things we did all week. It’s also a great place for educators to pick up craft, story and lesson ideas for their own early childhood programs!

Since the week of July 4th is always a short week, we typically have Little Sprouts camps during this time. This week is our last installment of Little Sprouts: We Like Dirt. Campers learned what dirt is, where is comes from and who lives in it. They spent the week exploring the ecosystem under the ground, playing games, singing songs and crafting with mud. What is more fun than making mud pies?

Day one focused on what makes dirt. Campers decorated summer camp shirts with their very own handprints, using brown fabric paint. While not everybody liked the feeling of “mud” on their hands, they sure had fun! Next, they learned what makes up dirt, from plant roots to rocks. They made mud and painted with it to make mud paintings and went on a dirt scavenger hunt in the Conservatory.


Day two was all about the critters that call the dirt their home. Campers made mud pies out of clay, mud and flowers. Next, they got up close and personal with a some millipedes and a few friendly pill bugs. Campers dug in the dirt in the Nature Play Area and found lots of fun animal friends.

Day three was all about worms and compost. Campers used cooked spaghetti to make “worm tracks” with paint. During the lesson, they learned what compost is and how it is made. They each studied their very own worm, looking inside its body with a flashlight to see the dirt moving through its belly, and got to reach inside our worm composter.

Day four was all about plants. Campers printed animal tracks with sponges. They learned the parts of a plant and how each part works. They looked at roots in a root viewer and got to plant their own carrots. Campers even went on a critter hunt in the Conservatory!

Overall, we had a really fun week!

If you would like to read and learn about dirt with your own Sprout, here are some book suggestions:
I’m Dirty by Kate and Jim McMullan
Harry the Dirty Dog
by Gene Zion
The Piggy in the Puddle
by Charlotte Pomerantz
Ants in Your Pants
by Sue Heap
Inch by Inch
by Leo Leonni
Wonderful Worms
by Linda Glaser
The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown

If you would like to complete your own worm study at home, check out our post on backyard worms!

Check out the slide show below for images from the week.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more pictures, check out the Flickr page as well.

The above pictures were taken by our photography intern, Cory Doman.


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