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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Science Nerd TV Show

We are working on the opening to our SciShow to be aired soon on PCTV. Here is a sneak preview.

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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
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Happy earth day

 

Ramps, Garlic and Dandelions

ramps 002It’s finally feeling like spring, and that means its foraging time. The ramps are up! The garlic has been uncovered and the green tips are up, the winter onions are up. Time for some omelets!

We have ramps growing among the raspberry canes. For years I thought they were garlic seeds gone wild, but I was informed they are really in the onion family, Allium tricoccum. Apparently in New York City, chefs are bonkers over them making all kinds of fancy dishes.

rampsMy recipe is not fancy just a pile of wild dandelions sautéed in a little butter with ramps. The flavor is so good, pungent and tangy. This is also yummy over a thin pizza crust. Lots of vitamin C in dandelions!

As for the ramps, you have to get them early while they are young and tender, because soon they become tough and bitter.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Science, Uncategorized

 

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Snapping Turtles

snapping turtleOn the first day of school I held a teacher professional development class with the teachers at Stearn’s Elementary School. The topic was Nature in the Schoolyard. The teachers spent 45 minutes collecting nature specimens from the school yard to draw and then identify. Right on cue, a nest of snapping turtles started to emerge from the ground. Twenty seven nickel size babies in all. The teachers took them to their classrooms to have the children fatten them up with worms and crickets and observe their growth with their students. It was a great experience for all since the survival rate is only about 10%, most tender babies are eaten by bullfrogs and great blue heron.

The time had come in the spring to release the little snappers now that they were big enough to survive on their own. Here is a video of the release. The spot where we released them was a tributary of the Housatonic River about 50 feet from the nest site. The water was moving fast, but these little guys were strong.

Good luck little turtles!!

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Today walking in the woods we came across this momma turtle, probably looking for a spot to lay her eggs. She looked like a shovelful of mud, but upon closer inspection, this muddy mess had eyes, monster claws and a personality of what one would expect of a dinosaur.

Her scientific name is Chelydra serpentina. Her shell can get as big as 20 inches long (50 cm) and her tail, head and neck can add another 20 inches to her length. This is a big turtle. Snappers can live up to 40 years. This one was big, about 11 inches long, but not the biggest I’ve seen.

If you see a snapping turtle, be careful. The are called snapping turtles for a reason. This turtle cannot pull its head into its shell, instead it needs to protect itself with its sharp beak with a warning hiss. It has a long neck that it can whip around and has the power to snap a broom handle in half if provoked. Don’t try to pick it up by the tail, the tail is part of the skeleton and the spine and this can cause serious damage. Best is to leave them alone and admire them from afar.

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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, Nature Curios, Science, Uncategorized

 

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Tea with a Boxelder Bug.

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I had a nice afternoon tea with a dear old friend who has been hibernating all winter. Ms. Boxelder Bug. I must say she was pretty spry for one who hasn’t eaten in seven months. Around and around the tea saucer she paced. Yes it is spring, really spring. Seemed like it would never get here. But Ms. Boxelder bug is a sure sign of spring!

Let me tell you a little about her. Her scientific name is Boisea trivittata. She is a true bug of the order ‘hemiptera’ and hails from eastern U.S., but her family has spread to almost all of the continental U.S.. She won’t eat your houseplants, damage your home, get in hour hair or bite you. But if you bother her too much, she will make a stink. I mean look at her, she is black and red, that is the same as saying, “Stay away or you will be sorry.”

box elder seedsEarly spring she will survive on detritus and plant matter on the ground until the seeds are available. Then she will dine solely on seeds of maple trees (Acer). Why maple trees? Its all about evolution. She preferes the Box Elder, which are a type of maple, and where this bug got it’s name.

As an aside, did you know maple seeds are good to eat! Yes, those helicopter like seeds that twirl down from the trees, they are tasty. Last year I watch dozens of squirrels and many chipmunks gathering the seeds from our silver maple tree. It was like a rodent bioblitz out there. I did some research, found out the seeds are edible. Tried some and surprise, they are good. I put them on my salads, they taste like pine nuts, and they are free for the taking all over the lawn. Awesome.

Back to Ms. Boxelder, she is NOT considered a pest to the maple trees. As the seeds become available she will eat, find a mate, climb up the trunk of a female maple tree. Yes, female, the ones with the seeds, and deposit her eggs.

box elder bugBeing a true bug metamorphosis is gradual, the nymphs slightly resemble the adult throughout their development. The babies are are born bright red, don’t eat them! Eventually the nymphs take on the black coloring. As they reach adulthood delicate wings form and lay flat over their bodies, overlapping each other to form a lovely ‘X’.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Nature Curios

 

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April Vacation Classes

COLOR AND NATURE CLASSES

natural dyeScience and Art Classes for Kids ages 8 to 14 years old lead by Dr. Augie’s

April Vacation April 15-19th, 2013
9am-1:30pm
Cost $175

This five day program is an opportunity for your child(ren) to explore their creativity. They will explore color using natural dyes and color paints. We will spend time experimenting how color mixes. Materials will be homemade play dough, feathers,paper and various fabrics. Each child will make unique works of art using natural materials while being immersed in the colorful world around us.

A packed lunch and drink is encouraged. All supplies will be included.

To register your child(ren) email: Dr.Augies@gmail.com
CAMP application form

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized