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February Public Library Teen Event: Owl Pellets!

Happy Black History Month!
Last Monday during our February public library teen event, we taught the students all about owls and dissected owl pellets!
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First, we shared interesting facts about owls; the students already knew that owl feathers are serrated to reduce noise, and that the shape of their faces can funnel and amplify sound waves to their ears. As a group we also talked discussed the different types of prey that owls will hunt, like rodents and small reptiles.
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When we began dissecting the owl pellets, the students were very enthusiastic about identifying bones and searching for other clues about their diet. Have you ever dissected an owl’s pellet? If you want to bring this to your classroom, contact us and we can answer any of your questions.
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Clarke County Young Scientist Fair

 

Last Saturday, February 10th, Clarke County School District held their Elementary Young Scientist Fair at Alps Elementary School. This was a day full of science competitions, hands-on science activities, demonstrations, and presentations for K-5 CCSD students and their families.

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EcoReach designed and hosted its own booth at the fair, which was all about macroinvertebrates! If you haven’t noticed, we love our macroinverts. We had several preserved freshwater macroinvertebrates at our booth, including immature stoneflies, mayflies, and caddisflies, which were all collected in GA. The kids, and adults, were able to use handheld magnifying glasses to observe the critters up close. Our volunteers told the students all about the importance of the macroinvertebrates in freshwater systems, as well as fun facts about their life cycles, ways to avoid predators, and how to locate them in Athens! In addition to the macroinvertebrates, we also had a large poster detailing all about EcoReach’s mission and membership, as well as Ecology jobs and careers.

The kids (and even the teachers and parents!) seemed to really enjoy getting up close and personal with the stream macroinvertebrates, examining them intently with the magnifying glasses. EcoReach volunteer Samantha’s favorite part was telling the kids about the life cycles of the macroinverts. “When I told them about how many of these critters would grow wings and fly away from the stream when they became adults the kids’ eyes would widen, and one of them stepped back slightly and exclaimed, ‘I’m glad they’re not that old right now!’ Overall, it was a fun time!”

 

Subregional National Science Bowl Competition at UGA

 

Do you have what it takes to be a science trivia wiz?!

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Ashley, Samatha, and Kaylee prepping for the science bowl

For the past ~30 years, UGA has hosted a subregional event that is part of the GA state “Science Bowl” competition for high school students. Essentially this is a “quiz show”-type event in which the substantive point is to test the science knowledge of the teams of high school students competing.

This year three of our wonderful EcoReachers, Ashley, Samantha, and Kaylee, volunteered as Official Score Keeper/Time Keeper, Rules Judge, and Question Reader/Scientific Judge. The winning teams from this past weekend will have a chance to compete at the regional level to vie for a spot in the GA state science bowl, and then hopefully at the National Championship!

Read more about the National Science Bowl here! Go Georgia!

 

EcoReach Spring General Body Meeting

 

Thank you to everyone who came out to the meeting last Wednesday! Some highlights:

  • Fall 2017 all we held 13 events and reached ~1300 ACC students
    • Some events: Chasing Coral GA premiere at UGA, STEMZone, Monthly Public Library Teen Events, Career Day at Hilsman Middle School, and Trophy showing at Cine (We raised $60!)
  • Spring 2018
    • We already held our first event of 2018 (Public Library Teen Event)
    • We have a ton of upcoming events lined up for 2018
      • Contact us for more information
    • Kelsey (President) participated on the 50/10 Odum School of Ecology celebration diversity panel a few weeks ago and shared information about EcoReach, our mission, goals, and a need for a paid coordinator position.
    • We held a coffee hour in Odum School of Ecology to recruit more volunteers
    • We have T-shirts coming soon!
    • Follow us on Twitter, facebook, and Instagram!

 

If you would like us to come to your event or classroom, contact us at ecoreachuga@gmail.com

Also, if you would like to be on our mailing list and/or purchase a T-shirt, send us an email.

 

January Public Library Teen Event

Happy 2018!! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and are excited about the new year. EcoReach has a lot of plans for this year, and we started off strong with our first monthly Public Library Teen Event of 2018.

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For this event, we talked all about… birds! Native Georgia birds, to be exact.

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We began our activity this week with a lesson about birds that can be found around the world and in Georgia. First, we asked the kids to name any birds that they know. We had a lot of answers, from pigeons and hawks, to penguins and ostriches. And then we had a discussion on the importance of birds and what they do for the environment. Birds help with pest control, seed dispersal, and are very important in food webs around the world.

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We also discussed the many ways in which birds communicate and find mates. Using calls and songs! Many scientists and bird enthusiasts use their ears to identify birds in the wild. For our next activity, we used recordings from the Urban Bird Sounds Project, and “met” four different native Georgia birds by looking at pictures, hearing their unique calls, and learning whether they are dimorphic or monomorphic and whether they are migratory or non-migratory. These birds were the northern cardinal, red winged black bird, northern mockingbird, and song sparrow.

Please check out Urban Bird Sounds Project! All of the recordings were written and narrated by students from Codman Academy Charter Public School in Massachusetts. 

And finally, how can you encourage wild birds to come to your home? With bird feeders! During our last activity we all made bird feeders using cardboard egg cartons, yarn, and bird seeds that the students took home. We asked the students to take pictures of any cool birds they see at their feeders!

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We are looking forward to our next Public Library Teen Event! Please stay tuned for more updates.

ECOREACH PRESENTATION AT PLASTIC DEBRIS WORKSHOP

Yesterday, the Odum School of Ecology hosted a Plastic Debris Workshop in conjunction with the River Basin Center and the UGA Marine Extension/Georgia Sea Grant. The workshop began with a panel discussion about the causes and consequences of plastic debris and how we as individuals can contribute to protecting our water resources.  The panel discussion was followed by a reception with artwork, posters, and tables from undergraduate researchers, UGA student organizations, community organizations. EcoReach members Kelsey and Nate had a great time spreading the word about EcoReach to workshop attendees, as well as networking to get new ideas for activities and curriculum!

The workshop was organized by EcoReach’s very own, Rebecca Atkins! Great job, Rebecca!

WATER QUALITY LESSON AT CLARKE MIDDLE’S SUSTAINABILITY DAY

This past Tuesday, Clarke Middle School hosted its annual IB Sustainability Day. Over the course of the day, students in grades 6-8 participated in a variety of activities to learn about the different types of sustainability, the importance of sustainability, and how to be more sustainable in school and as community members of Athens, GA.  These activities included regular classroom lessons as well as a guest speakers from the Athens community. EcoReach had the opportunity to present as one of the guest speakers!

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The three types of sustainability!

 

EcoReach’s presentation focused on environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on the sustainability of our water resources. EcoReach volunteer Kelsey opened up the lesson by asking students what they know about water quality and what are potential causes of bad water quality. This then segwayed into a demonstration about rainwater travels from land to streams and rivers.

For the demonstration, the tops of the two liter bottles represented a pathway to the stream, while the bottom of the two liter bottles represented the stream. The tops of the bottle were filled with various substrates, such as plastic (to represent impervious surface), gravel, mulch, soil, and soil with roots. Student volunteers took turns pouring water with “contaminants” (represented by red food coloring) into each of the “stream systems.” Students observed the length of time it took the “rain” to reach the “stream” and if any of the substrates were able to remove the contaminants. Students determined that the soil with roots was the substrate that allowed the slowest time to the stream and removed the most contaminants!

EcoReach volunteer Emily wrapped up the lesson by explaining the importance of infiltration in removing contaminants. Emily also discussed ways we can promote water infiltration into the ground by installing rain gardens, riparian buffers, and porous pavement. Installing these types of infrastructure can make our Athens community more sustainable! Thanks Clarke Middle for inviting EcoReach to your Sustainability Day– we had a blast. IMG_9433