Archive for January 28th, 2014

January 28, 2014

Biophilia: Pittsburgh, February 6 – “Re-cognizing Life: Using Sidewalk Photography to Heighten Sensitivity to Everyday Nature”

by Melissa Harding

 Molly Steinwald child nature sewer moth

Biophilia: Pittsburgh

Thursday, February 6, 2014 – 5:30 p.m.
Free to attend – RSVP required.

The February 6th Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting will feature guest speaker Molly Steinwald, Director of Science Education and Research at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and past Environment Committee chair of the North American Nature Photography Association. Her presentation will be:

Re-cognizing Life: Using Sidewalk Photography to Heighten Sensitivity to Everyday Nature.

Hiking, camping, and even trips to the local city park can increase people’s connection with nature but are difficult to fit in to busy lives with regularity. Molly will present strategies for using artistic photography to increase people’s daily connection with nature through heightening their awareness of mundane ‘sidewalk’ nature – small-scale nature encountered while fulfilling their everyday obligations in the built environment.

About Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network dedicated to strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. The group meets monthly at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes classroom at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens where, over delicious small-plate food and a happy-hour cash bar, a discipline or behavior will be identified — often by an expert guest speaker — and discussed among the participants in the interest of sharing ideas and identifying opportunities. Join the conversation!

RSVP by sending an email or signing up at the group’s Meetup page.

What is Biophilia?
The term “biophilia,” stemming from the Greek roots meaning “love of life,” was coined by the social psychologist Erich Fromm. It came into use in the 1980s when Harvard University biologist E.O. Wilson defined biophilia as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”

In the last twenty years, studies examining human attraction to nature have yielded convincing evidence that links interactions with nature with positive gains in productivity, increased healing rates, and even enhanced learning comprehension in a wide range of sectors.

Biophilia Pittsburgh

The top image is copyrighted by Molly Steinwald.

January 28, 2014

Little Sprouts Have Fun in All Seasons!

by Melissa Harding


We just finished our latest four-week Little Sprouts program, My Four Seasons, and we had so much fun! Campers learned all about the four seasons and how they affect plants and animals, from how a plant makes a seed to why animals hibernate in the winter. Campers sang songs, played games and read stories to help them understand seasonal change in nature.

Week one focused on the falling leaves and dropping temperatures of fall. Campers made leaf prints in play dough and leaf rubbings on paper using differently shaped leaves from around the Conservatory. After they were finished, campers explored tree bark, branches, buckeyes and acorns from our tree bin, as well as played with animal puppets and tree cookies. Campers learned about the different shapes and colors of leaves and why leaves fall off the trees. Finally, campers decorated collecting pouches made from recycled newspaper and used them to collect fallen leaves, seeds, acorns and more during a walk through the Conservatory.


Week two was about winter and hibernation. Campers created snow scenes on dark construction paper using paint made from dissolved Epsom salts and made salt dough snow men. Using animals puppets, campers learned why animals hibernate in the winter. Finally, we went on a winter scavenger hunt through the Conservatory.

Week three focused on spring, learning about the birth of new plants and animals. Campers made a set of binoculars out of toilet paper rolls and explored the soil, pots, and seeds in our spring bin, as well as our animal puppets. Campers learned about the life cycle of a plant and the inside of a seed by pulling apart pre-soaked lima beans and pretending to be plants in a life cycle pantomime. Finally, we went on a bird hunt through the Conservatory using our new binoculars.

DSC_0117-001Week four was about summer and the colors of the season. Campers created picture frames out of composted leaves and played in our soil and sand sensory bins. We learned about the plants and bugs that are out and about in the summer. Campers planted bail, a delicious summer herb, and went on a color scavenger hunt in the Conservatory.

Little Sprouts programs are a fun way to learn about nature with your child; studies show that exploring nature and the outdoors with a trusted caregiver creates positive attitudes towards nature in both the child and the adult (Louise Chawla, 2006). However, you don’t need to visit the Conservatory to get those benefits. Playing the in backyard or going to the park and observing seasonal changes is a wonderful way to increase both your and your child’s connection to natural cycles.

 If you want to read some great stories about the seasons with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
Time to Sleep  by Denise Fleming
Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall
When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

To see more images from the program, check out the slideshow below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our next Little Sprouts: Single Servings program, My Tropical Adventure, is scheduled for February 20 and 21, 10:30 am-noon. If you would like to sign up your child for a future Little Sprouts program, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, please visit our website. We hope to see you there!

The above pictures were taken by Science Education Staff.


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