Category Archives: Art

Dr. Augie’s Nature & Writing Camp

pH testing stream waterAre your kids or grandkids getting bored this summer? Well sign them up for Dr. Augie’s Nature and Writing Camp! It will be loads of smart fun, silly fun and just plain fun!

August 4-8, 2014
9am to 1:30pm Cost $175 or $35/day

You can print and mail the application or you can pick up an application at St. Mark’s Church office.

​Students are taken on daily guided nature hikes, where we’ll explore the terrain and examine different kinds of local plant and animal life. Afterwards, everyone adjourns to the classroom to write a fictional story based on some of the flora and fauna we encountered that day.

Additionally will meet Mr. Horace Franklin Turtle and other live animals as we learn about invasive and native species. Ages 7-12.


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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in Art, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Science, science in the parks


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Science in the Park

beetle catching kidThis month I have been having fun with some kids at Pitt Park, doing science. Fun stuff like catching bugs and isopods.catching isopods

sun screen experimentMarcus read to us about the suns UV rays and why we should protect ourselves from too much sun. To test this we did a simple sunscreen experiment using Sunprint paper pdf here to see what strength of sunscreen works best, but our results were: the spray kind doesn’t work very well.

setting up sun printpressing sunprintsetting up sun printFor fun we made some sun prints using nature findings from the park!

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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in Art, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Science, science in the parks


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Making Terrariums

making terrariumsWe added our compost that was brewing all winter to our terrariums last week. It was a sunny but cold winter day and it was nice to get our hands dirty!

The weeks before the kids used clay to make animals and figures for their terrariums. We talked about how plants get their energy from the sun through photosynthesis, how they grow from seeds, spores and dividing, and what the seeds and stems look like up close. Fun stuff. The kids loved to read to each other from books, handouts and directions. Great kids.



making terrariums 2 fairy terrariumwhite fox terrarium

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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Art, Children's Art & Science Classes, Science


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Testing the pH of Stream Water

testing pH cabbage juiceThis week we tested the stream water for pH using cabbage juice. Before the program I prepared the cabbage juice indicator and made up the standards for the pH testing using various acidic and basic solutions. I used this basic definition for pH: a scale that measures how acidic or basic a solution is; measuring hydrogen ions in a water based solution.

On a more practical level, we tested the water so the kids know that if you leave a salamander or tadpole in water that is not changed frequently or properly filtered it becomes poison for the animal.
stream water pH

This these were are standards:

bright pink: acidic
light pink: acidic (less)
purple: neutral
blue green: basic
clear: basic (more)

These were the solutions we tested: lemon juice, ammonia (dilute), stream water, tap water, vinegar
The kids were scientists as they took some water samples and tested various solutions including the steam water to visually compare the color to the standards. Surprisingly we found the stream water to be a bit acidic.

Then they had fun using the pipettes and exploring mixing colors.

ph testing 2ph testing 3ph testing 4ph testing 1


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Art in the Park

Check out these beautiful nature drawings a young girl was sketching in the park this weekend while we were talking about turtles and frogs and looking for butterflies, she was drawing away. Amazing talent Karla!

butterfly drawing by Karlasun drawing by Karla

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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Art, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Science, Uncategorized


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The Poetry of Science

Stearn’s Elementary School students recently participated in the Massachusetts Science Poetry Contest. Below are some of their lovely poems. I was going to add photos, but these words create their own images. Don’t you agree?

These are diamante poems. A diamante poem is arranged in a diamond shape and composed of verbs, adjectives and nouns relating to a specific topic.

These poems published here on Dr. Augie’s will also be published in the “Massachusetts Science Poetry Book K-2.”

A special thanks to Principal Jeanne Bednarski and teachers extraordinaire: Betty O’Neil and Maryann Sherman (Maryann was my one of my favorite elementary school teachers! How cool is that?) for sharing these here on Dr. Augie’s website.

Gabriel S. Grade 2 Most Expressive

Gabriel S.
Grade 2
Most Expressive

Benjamin G Grade 2 Most Expressive

Benjamin G
Grade 2
Most Expressive

Mitchell A. & Lily P. Grade 2 Best Cooperative Poem

Mitchell A. & Lily P.
Grade 2
Best Cooperative Poem


Alana H. & Brenna M.
Grade 2
Best Cooperative Poem

Dion B. Grade 2 Most Original

Dion B.
Grade 2
Most Original

Delanee S. Grade 2 Most Expressive

Delanee S.
Grade 2
Most Expressive


Hunter G.
Grade 2
Most Expressive

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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Art, Children's Art & Science Classes, Science, Uncategorized


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Pittsfield High School students put science on TV

By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff

carniverous plants eating cameraPITTSFIELD — “Killer” bees, zebra mussels and cane toads from outer space will soon be invading your local television screens.

Since January, a group of local high school students has been researching, writing, designing and filming a new television show called “SciTV” for Pittsfield Community Television, based on work they’ve been doing in an afterschool science program based at Pittsfield High School. The program is funded through a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, which sponsors several after-school enrichment programs in the Pittsfield public school district.

The first segment on invasive species is set to screen later in June. Another segment on space is in the works.
Supervising the science

Kara Curtin, a junior at St. Joseph Central High School, films a segment for SciTV. Program are science educator Lisa Provencher of Dr. Augie’s Art & Nature Programs and Tim Laporte, owner of Recompute repair store in Pittsfield.
“I joined because I really like science and I thought it would be interesting to learn new things. So far, it’s been pretty cool,” said Matt Brites, a PHS junior.
The group of students includes seven full-time members and one part-time member from PHS, Lenox Memorial Middle and High School and St. Joseph Central High School. They meet Mondays and Wednesdays for three hours a week discussing and learning about a range of topics.
“We started learning about animals, but then I got really into plants,” said Cally Vranas, also a junior at PHS.

The group has learned about local and international invasive species, like zebra mussels and cane toads respectively. They’ve gone on field trips to learn and see what local invasive plant species are like, including garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed and oriental bittersweet.
Invasive species are exotic flora and fauna living in native habitats. They can become harmful to local ecosystems by overpopulating and pushing out native species.
While walking the tree line of the PHS football field, Brites said, “We found one invasive vine strangling another invasive vine.”

The students have worked in several outdoor areas, the PHS chemistry and biology rooms, and the Berkshire Museum. They have interviewed local experts, most recently Rene Wendell of The Trustees of Reservations.
In addition, with the support of parents, the students have taken field trips to the AniMagic Museum of Animation, Special Effects and Art in Lee and Pittsfield Community Television’s studio to learn about filming, so students could turn their studies into a broadcast production to be shared with others.
Provencher said the student science group is particularly impressive because some of its members have visual or hearing impairments, but it has not stopped them from learning the ropes and growing their talents both on and offscreen.

One interview-shy student, who goes by the nickname “Mark Darwin,” is a self-described “behind-the-scenes guy,” who also wrote many portions of the SciTV script.

Brites and PHS freshman Ian Phair worked on illustrations for backdrops for the show and Brites also designed “alien” cane toad puppets for a humorous segment.

“It’s been a good social opportunity,” said Kara Curtin, a 10th-grader at St. Joe.

To learn more about SciTV and the making of episodes, visit

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Art, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, Science, Uncategorized


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