Evening Edventure: Conservation Investigation

by Melissa Harding

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A crime has been committed! Someone stole a bunch of bananas from the forest and we need a detective to figure out who did it. Luckily, at last Friday’s Evening Ed-Venture, we had 17 detectives to help us solve this heinous crime. During this mysterious program, campers learned how to be good detectives and sharpened their observational skills through a  series of challenges. They also got to take a crack at solving The Mystery of the Missing Bananas, a habitat-based mystery focused on teaching ecosystem interdependence. Not to mention, they got to spend time in the Conservatory at night! Campers had a criminally-good time and so did we.

Upon arrival, campers created a detective notebook to track their progress and to record any clues they found. Their first task was to complete a series of observation-based games to see how good they were at looking closely and listening. They also learned that detectives and scientists have quite a bit in common, both of them using their senses to observe and ask questions in order to solve mysteries, criminal or otherwise.

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After our detectives were trained, they tried to solve our banana-based crime. In this mystery, campers interview plants about the animals on their suspect lists. The plants provide clues about who may or may not be guilty based on any alibis they can give for a particular animal. The goal of the program itself is to help students understand how plants need animals and animals need plants, all while playing a fun game. Campers loved the mystery and even suspected some of us as being the culprits! Finally, they all settled on the cockroach, who was the true villain.

After all the crime-fighting, the campers were pretty hungry, so we had a tropical snack of bananas and oranges. Newly fortified, the campers headed to the Conservatory, using a scavenger hunt to guide their observations. They had to look closely, read signs, and use all their senses to cross off every box on their sheet. By the time they were done it was time to head home and rest their detective eyes for the night. What a great Conservation Investigation!

If this program sounds fun, check out our next Evening Ed-Venture on March 27, Fun with Food; in this exciting program, campers will learn about healthy foods through crafts, games and cooking! To register, contact Sarah Bertovich at 412/441-4442 etx. 3925.

The above photos were taken by Science Education staff.

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