Posts tagged ‘desert’

October 25, 2014

Upcoming Little Sprouts: My Desert Adventure

by Melissa Harding


This November, join us for the next installment of Little Sprouts, My Desert Adventure.  Phipps Little Sprouts camps for 2-3 year-olds and their adult caregiver are interactive programs for child and adult to experience together.  Each session will take place in the Tropical Forest and include songs, stories, sensory experiences, and healthy snacks. In My Desert Adventure, campers will meet animals and plants friends that live in the hot, dry desert and learn why they make the desert their home.

Please join us on November 21, 9:30-10:30 or 11:00 a.m. to noon for My Desert Adventure.

If you would like to sign up your child for this or any other 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 photo was taken by Science Education and Research staff.

January 8, 2013

Little Sprouts: Our Desert Adventure!

by Melissa Harding

Phipps Science Education LS Deserts (1)

Even though it is cold outside, our Little Sprouts have kept warm this winter by exploring the desert. December’s Little Sprouts: Singles, Our Desert Adventure, taught campers that even the hot, dry desert is full of life. Campers learned that desert plants are very special and that there are lots of animals that depend on them for food and shelter.

To begin, campers worked with their grown-ups to paint cardboard camels with sand paint and attach legs made out of clothes pins. Living in the desert, camels are always sandy! Campers also had time to play in an exploration station full of different sand bins, animal puppets and books about the desert.

Phipps Science Education LS Deserts (10)

During the lesson, campers learned that plants in the desert need to find a way to survive in the hot, dry climate. They do this by being succulent! Campers each got to smush the liquid out of some succulent leaves to see how the plants store water, as well as touch the smelly goo inside of an aloe vera plant. Campers also learned that cacti are covered with spikes to prevent predators from eating them. Even though the campers weren’t allowed to touch the cacti, they did sing a fun song about them! Finally, they learned that the desert is full of animals and read a story about them, The Three Little Havelinas by Susan Lowell. Campers pretended to be snakes, woodpeckers, mice, havelinas (wild pigs), and coyotes.

Phipps Science Education LS Deserts (6)

During the tour, campers went through the desert room to see what desert plants look like in the ground. They observed the dry dirt and spiky plants from a safe distance with their grown-ups. Campers also picked their very own jade leaves to plant!

Phipps Science Education LS Deserts (4)

Finally, campers potted their jade leaves and played a fun game with the sand bins. Inside each bin was hidden a number of items, some of which belonged in the desert and some of which didn’t. Campers found and sorted the objects, digging for buried treasure.

Phipps Science Education LS Deserts (8)

If you want to read some great stories about the desert with your own Little Sprout, here are some suggestions:
The Three Little Havelinas by Susan Lowell
There was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea by Jennifer Ward
Way Out in the Desert by Jennifer Ward

Our next Little Sprouts Singles program, Our Tropical Adventure, is scheduled for February 15, 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 Amanda Joy.

December 18, 2012

School Program Spotlight: Dynamic Deserts

by Melissa Harding

Phipps Sci Ed Desert Class (3)-001

In our new segment, School Program Spotlight, we will be exploring the content of some of our most popular school programs.

The desert can seem like a harsh and forbidding landscape, filled with burning sand and a hot, relentless sun; when you think of the desert, images from Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones many come to mind. In reality, the desert is an amazing biome that is teeming with life! Deserts are filled with incredible plants and animals that are adapted to their hot and dry home: cacti with spikes that protect them from predators; jade plants with juicy leaves; mesquite plants with their deep tap-roots like giant carrots; striking flowers that bloom after a rainstorm and then quickly fade away.

Our Dynamic Deserts program teaches students why the desert is such a difficult place to live and how plants are able to survive there; the program focuses on general plant adaptations like succulence, leaf modification, specialized root systems, and mutualistic relationships between plants and animals. This two-hour field trip is broken down into a classroom portion and a tour.

In the classroom portion, students learn where deserts are located throughout the world and what characterizes a region as desert. They create their own adapted fantasy plants that can withstand desert conditions and share them with the class. Using these drawings as a starting point, students learn how their ideas are very similar to real plant adaptations. They crush succulent leaves, observe aloe vera and handle the ribs from a saguaro cactus.

Phipps Sci Ed Desert Class (4)

The tour portion of the program consists of a self-guided or docent-lead tour of the Conservatory. Those who would prefer a self-guided experience may request a PDF of our self-guided tour or explore on their own. Those who choose the docent-lead tour will go on a guided exploration of our desert room, concentrating heavily on the plants discussed in the classroom portion. This allows students to see many of the plants that we are not able to bring into the classroom and learn more about them from our knowledgable docents.

If you are a teacher and would like more information on how to sign up for this or any other school program, please use the “Registering for Programs” link in the menu above. Please note that scout groups, home school groups and other groups of 10 or more may sign up for any of our school programs as well!

The above pictures were taken by Amanda Joy.


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