Kids smarten up at Wyman Museum summer nature camp
Instructor hopes to expand classes next year
June 17, 2014
For some students, learning ends on the final page of their textbook or on the last day of school before summer. Even so, knowledge about the world is always around you if you look in the right places.
Wyman Living History Museum recently began a summer nature camp on its property for aspiring scientists ages 4 to 13. Each week, kids learn about different aspects of nature and engage in a number of projects about these subjects as taught by Heather Fross.
Fross formerly taught at Moffat County High School and Colorado Northwestern Community College before deciding to take some time off to devote to family, but the desire to introduce young minds to science has stayed with her. She pointed out that the museum's facilities make it an ideal learning space, noting its wetlands, resident Junior the elk and a spot within the main building for her own classroom.
Some teenage helpers were on hand Tuesday to assist Fross with this week's topic, birds, as was local ornithology enthusiast Allan Reishus, who helped kids observe the ospreys living on the Wyman land, discussing with them the habits and bodies of the birds of prey.
The students were full of enthusiasm, Reishus said, particularly the afternoon group made up of ages 4 to 8.
"They're a talkative bunch," he said.
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Kids also used binoculars to spot other birds in the sky, then sketched them and also built feeders to take home for the beaked ones to enjoy.
Parent Alisha Arnett hung back while her two children engaged in the activities. Arnett said the nature classes have been a great weekly experience for her family.
"They're always excited to come here," she said.
Patrick Neton, 6, said he had fun with the bird-related class, but his fancy was something more hands-on and slimy.
"Catching frogs," he said, when asked his favorite part of the classes, referring to last week's subject matter, the amphibians residing all over the pond at the Wyman Museum. Other topics in store for the summer are mammals and plant life.
Fross said she was pleasantly overwhelmed by the response, having to cut short the registration at about 50 kids, though she hopes to double or even triple the amount next year.
A day devoted to fun science experiments may also be in the works for one of the future classes. Students suggested Fross use a box of crayons — accidentally melted by leaving them in the heat of the sun — for a purpose like this.
"That's an unexpected experiment," she said. "Those are always the best ones."