Tag Archives: after school science program

Reptile Movie

I just re-discovered this short film written, filmed, acted and directed by a group of after school students in Dr. Aguie’s after school program with the 21 Century Grant. We planned a longer version for SciTV, but in the end we got this trailer. Not too shabby I have to say. Click on the photo to get the link to the movie.





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Mini Bioblitz with the Berkshire Museum

museum bioblitz 2015This June the Berkshire Museum held a small bioblitz at Onota Lake with Egermont Elementary School students. It was a great day, lots of collecting and sharing. The weather was perfect the kids were well behaved and the teachers were great to work with in the field. Thanks to Joann Batman for inviting Dr. Augie’s to participate.

pond collecting kids collections crawdad collecting pond

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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in backyard science, Berkshire BioBlitz, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Science, science in the parks


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Crow Show!

crowsThe crows are gathering! You may have noticed that in several places in Berkshire County the crows have been gathering by the thousands! They are not planning a crime scene, its not a ‘omen’, it is more likely a survival technique. When it gets cold they congregate in huge numbers and its called “roosting” just like with chickens. The hypotheses are they do it for warmth, companionship and discussions about where food can be found and as my friend Laurie Brown says, “for sex”. Yes, sex, breeding season for crows in this neck of the woods, according to the folks at Cornell, is in March. There is a hypothesis that they are checking out their potential mates.
Crows have been roosting for as long as there have been crows. What is interesting is that they congregate in some area away from the final roosting site, as pictured here a hundred or so where in the Black Locus trees by the food pantry garden at sunset, spending a lot of time calling, talking, chasing, and fighting, then just before dark then they join the main group for a final roosting spot for the night. Its quite a scene they make. Its wonderful to watch. I sat in my car shivering in the 5 degrees F just to watch this impressive ‘Crow Show’.

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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in backyard science, Science, science in the parks


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Science in the Parks: Bullfrogs

frog in a jarThe American bullfrog, or simply the bullfrog goes by the name Rana catesbeiana, or Lithobates catesbeianus depending on who you are talking to.

This large green frog lives all around Berkshire County in ponds, swamps, lakes and streams. They like to hang out along the edge of the water and jump in when surprised or threatened.

leap frogs

The bull frog gets its name because during mating season the male defends a territory with its call, and if you ever heard it you know it sounds like the roar of a not too small bull. Click the photo above to hear the call of the bullfrog

These frogs spawn in the spring; this means the female lays eggs, up to 20,000 in shallow water while the male releases its sperm into the water near the eggs.

The fertilized eggs hatch out tadpoles that have external gills and rows of tiny teeth across the top of their mouths. They feed by pumping water through their gills and mixing up the bottom water that contains bacteria, algae, singled celled organisms and pollen grains which they eat through their mouths. As they get older they eat larger things such as copepods (small crustaceans) and larval aquatic insects as well as scraping off bits of vegetation.

tadpole with legs

Bullfrog tadpole with hind legs.

Metamorphosis from tadpole to frog in our climate takes 2-3 years. That means if you bring one in for a pet; don’t expect a frog for a couple of years at least. And remember to feed it lettuce. I should mention bullfrog tadpoles do not make very good pets. Releasing them in the fall is a good idea so they can hibernate through the winter.

The adult frog is voracious, this means they like to eat a lot, all the time. They are predators, eating any animal that will fit in their mouths even if they have to use their hands to get it in. Their usual diet is made up of invertebrates, such as insects and worms. If in captivity you will need to make the food move for them to ‘catch’.

Scientists estimate their lifespan in the wild to be eight to ten years, but one frog lived for 12 luxurious years in captivity at the Berkshire Museum.

releasing the frog

Releasing the bullfrog.

To tell the difference between the adult male and female, look at the ear drums or tympanic membranes, the round circles behind its eyes, if the circles are bigger than the eyes the frog is male. If  the circles are smaller or the same size the frog is female. These ear drum of sorts, connect to the inner ear in which they hear but they also hear with their lungs, but that is another story.

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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Berkshire BioBlitz, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, Science, science in the parks, Uncategorized


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Science in the Parks: Conte

bug hunting girl

Science in the parks stared with a perfect day.

Mostly because the first awesome little girl I encountered said she would very much like to help catch frogs.

“What else can we catch?”

“Oh maybe some aquatic bugs.”

“I LOVE bugs!”

Be still my heart. She then ran home to get her brother and some friends. Over twenty kids politely took their turns at scooping the stream for aquatics and gently ladling their catch into a bowl.

aquatic bug bowls

When the muck settled, we discovered all kinds of interesting organisms paddling, squirming and zipping around in the water. At the end of the program we recorded what we had in our bowls and then released the animals.

A few kids even took their shot at using the aerial net and caught some gorgeous long-horned grasshoppers.

I think the most exciting and scary catch was the GIANT fishing spider. No pictures because that guy was fast! And we were all running and screaming.

aquatic netting

Our catch for the day:

2 kinds of leeches
2 kinds of dragonfly naiads (Gomphidae and Aeshnidae)long-horned grasshoppers (Tettigoniidae)
stonefly larva
lots and lots of caddisfly larva
a giant fishing spider
plant bugs
bugs (Miridae)
backswimmers (Notonectidae)
waterboatmen (Corixidae)
whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae)
water beetles (Haliplidae)
collecting in the brook boywater scavenging beetle (Hydrophilidae)
aquatic snails
land snails (Succinidae)
watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
cattails (Typhaceae)
wood frog (Rana sylvatica)
common toad (Bufo americanus)
water striders (Gerridae)
black-nosed dace (Rhinichthys atratulus)
2 mismatched shoes
dragonfly naiad long horned grasshopper salamander snuggling leeches wet shoe

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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Berkshire BioBlitz, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Science


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Science in the Park Kick Off

John Conte turtle On Monday my colleague John and I set off to Conte Community School to give the 4th and 5th graders a sneak peek at what will be in store this summer in the parks.

collection demonstrationWe talked about the local water system, turtles, leeches, insects and a few prehistoric plants. The kids got to take a turn collecting from the nearby brook after a quick demonstration by me of how to collect. Then we set up the specimens in white bowls, Petri dishes and containers to observe behavior and try to identify what we found. We did find a young salamander in the water we could not identify.

The kids had some great questions to ask and interesting information to share. I think we could have stayed there all day exploring. Conte Elementary School has the riches biodiversity of any schoolyard in the city.

Join us there this Saturday from 10-12 to do more exploring. Please note the location change from Dorothy Amos Park.

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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Berkshire BioBlitz, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, insects, Science, Uncategorized


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Public Access TV Science Show

Public Access TV Science Showtv station 002

We are still looking for a few more students to participate in this pilot program. We have had some intense and exhilarating planning meetings so far.

The current participating students decided the show will focus on native and invasive species of plants and animals. We are working on a list for this season’s show.

If you want to join us you will learn all aspects of television production, including: Audio, lighting, hosting, cameras, producing, directing, graphic design, editing, script and copy writing, acting, interviewing special guest and much more.

We meet at PHS school from 3:15pm to 4:45pm, filming will take place at the school, the TV station or on location. Transportation will be provided.

If you have a taste for adventure like science and are willing to put in some hard work, this is the program for you. See Ms. Vintimilla to sign up.

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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Berkshire BioBlitz, Children's Art & Science Classes


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