Sunday, August 19, 2018

Becoming a Young Naturalist at Manlius Library

By Xue Dong, PhD student
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

As many children who reside in urban area have little opportunity to touch nature directly, outdoor learning activities can be one type of significant experiences in their childrenhood memory. On July 25th, with the excellent leading of Young Naturalists summer team, 14 Young Naturalists at Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville started to explore the local watershed as well as showed great imagination through a guided outdoor observation.
Water and Wildlife in Central New York
The Central New York region, especially Syracuse area, is well known for its heavy snow in winter. Have you ever wondered why do we face this harsh weather more than other New York regions? Some researches showed that Onondaga Lake and Oneida Lake cause this situation and bring us the huge precipitation. Based on this climate background, Young Naturalists learned their surroundings started with Onondaga Lake Watershed and Oneida Lake Watershed. Continued with familiar animals and plants that are common but important in Central New York.

Water: an incredible journey
If you are a drop of water, what your life cycle will be? How many places you are going to travel? Adapted from the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, the water cycle activity facilitated children to get involved in the whole process of water movement and experience the life journey of water molecule in person. Young Naturalists were very excited about this game especially when they put on colorful beads to make their bracelets at nine stations. Playing this interesting activity, children not only got bracelets with the special meaning of water cycle but also learned the amazing fact that water can transform its shape beyond your imagination.
Outdoor Observation with a Field Guide
Embracing outdoor environment to enjoy the luxury green nature is one significant goal of Young Naturalists Summer Program. The other innovative goal is associating “art” to biology and geography to fulfill the STEAM purpose. Due to the rain, children did not walk to Butternut Creek besides to Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville, but everyone was dedicated to observe wildlife through window. Holding a clipboard with a new-created field guide, children were curious about all living things around them and drew the appealing ones on their worksheets.
Sharing the new ideas with others is the most hilarious part at the end of program. Although some young naturalists are too young to read and write, they tried their best to drew what they saw around the pond as well as shared their drawings actively to everybody. If your kids are looking to take part in some exciting outdoor activities and want to become a Young Naturalist, feel free to sign up one or more events at Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville official webpage!

Photos courtesy: Xue Dong

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