We will be having our first meeting Jan. 27 at 6 pm. This meeting is for anyone that wants to be in the program for 2014. If you don't have your application in yet, that is fine. We will have them that night to fill out for those who need them. Kids are welcome. If it does snow we will reschedule. Hope to see you there.
Spring will come again! If these cold snaps continue for the rest of winter, we will be more than ready to stretch our legs this spring.
We've been working at ASPI's Rockcastle River Wilderness Site - and all of the old favorites are still there - along with some updates and brand-new additions.
Individuals can come and hike, picnic, tour the Nature Center, camp, and coming this summer have river access with an educational dock.
Community groups and schools can do all of those things - and try out our Ecology Adventure Team-Building Course. How much do you trust your teammates? Can you devise a plan to insure a town's water supply or get your entire group through a giant spiders' web? Great for sports' teams, community organizations, youth groups, and scouts - appropriate for all ages!
Finally, we have field trip opportunities for pre-K through 12th grade! Do your students - or the children in your child's class - need to review a concept, learn a concept, a reward for a year well-done, to stretch their legs while learning science? Please go to our page to see the many topics for each grade level.
E-mail Tisha at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or to schedule a trip!
Our January calendar celebrates the lives & achievements of many extraordinary people, including:
George Washington Carver Day (Jan. 5), named for the death anniversary (Jan. 5, 1943) of this black agricultural scientist, author, inventor & teacher, born into slavery at Diamond Grove, MO, probably in 1864. His research created synthetic products from peanuts, potatoes & wood.
Amelia Earhart Day On Jan. 11, 1935, she became the first person, man or woman, to fly solo from Hawaii to California across the pacific. Another famous flight: her nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, May 20-21, 1932, first for a woman. During an attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.
St. Vincent’s Day (Jan. 22), or Feast of St. Vincent. This Spanish deacon & martyr died 304 AD, and is named Patron Saint of wine growers. Old weather lore says if
there is sun on this day, good wine crops may be expected in the ensuing season.
If St. Vincent's has sunshine, we get much rye & wine
Christa McAuliffe Day (Jan. 22), is observed to commemorate Christa McAuliffe and the other 6 astronauts killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded after take-off on January 28, 1986.
Gasoline for two moderately-distant trips to grandparents - check! Still groggy from family buffets with ingredients from all over the globe - and some crazy-out-of-season fruits and veggies - check! Very snug on a blistery day courtesy of electric heat produced by coal (probably from another country because Kentucky coal is mostly sold to other nations) - check!
Obviously the holidays - and winter itself - are times when it is a lot more difficult to maintain or intervene on behalf of sustainability. We travel, need to stay warm, and whatever our traditions, usually add to our food availability! Most of our celebrations throughout the year are like this. But I don't intend to preach - the first paragraph was specifically about me and my family - I propose that whether we are conscious of sustainability issues or not, a trend is starting for different reasons in different populations - but, it is a trend toward sustainability. Our very typical, American family is no exception:
First, gifts: We have three young children - and so attend birthday parties. Including ours, we are seeing a trend toward the "no gifts" requests. Children do love to give gifts, as well, so we've seen variations - "she would love homemade cards," or "feel free to make something" - a parent actually called before my daughter's party and asked if they could make something. The little beaded chain is a favorite clipped to her backpack - and she knows her friend made it especially for her. It's not that folks don't want children to have the joy of receiving gifts, but a party is pretty big joy, and we are acknowledging that we have enough stuff. Also, there are always the grandparents - and I know of no ways to enforce no gifts from them.
But - the grandparents - well, they are doing some really sustainable things - and not for sustainability reasons. One set is getting the kids "experiences" for their birthdays. The other has decided on one activity-based bigger gift for each family (and a stocking) for Christmas, instead of a gluttony of smaller items. We are got our own zip-line this year and are ready to fly!
Speaking of Christmas, well, Santa brought a puppet theater that suspends from tension rods in a doorway, some locally-made wood baby toys, a pair of handmade stilts, handmade hats and scarves (not by me!), a new-to-us toy for each child, a new toy for each child, and books, toothbrush, and socks. (One set with dinosaurs, people, - these cause much toe wiggling and random kicking of the feet.)
And what did we give? We got caught up with the chalkboard theme - and had leftover paint and wood. So we cut the outlines of states folks live in from wood, painted the states (the older kids love maps right now), and attached a means to hang them. Only, Uncle Eric has lived in a lot of states, so he got a cat silhouette. Even the teacher gift was a chalkboard - a baseball field with his favorite team.
And we are planning for this upcoming year. After making the chalkboards, the kids are as excited to plan gifts as they are to plan next year's Halloween costumes - that is ridiculously excited. (In case you are wondering, we will be mythical creatures in October, 2014 which was decided in November, 2013.) Today we will finish our garden plans, taking inventory of our seeds, and place a seed order - not just to grow plants for our gardens, but for Mothers' Day gifts, end-of-the-year school gifts, and neighborly friendliness. (Last year, the men who delivered our new refrigerator took home some heirloom tomato starts and a large bag of mint runners (I warned them!)
We could live without gifts, but not food - and the same trend is holding: At Thanksgiving someone (not us) brought a kale salad. My cousins and I did not know what kale was when were children. Someone else brought a spinach-egg paleolithic diet dish. Both were locally-sourced. We brought homemade bread with local flour, eggs, and herbs. Another cousin brought farm-stand pumpkin butter. We had most of our traditional foods, too, but all at once, there was a local flavor not felt for a long time at our Thanksgiving pot-luck.
City friends visited last year, and we were having such a good time they stayed for supper - which we had not planned. It was spring, so we made what we always make if we haven't planned - a greens and peas frittata and a quick brown bread. They were reminded of the benefits of having veggies on hand that they went back to town and found a spot in a community garden.
They may be small things - but the motivation for living sustainably is creeping into our culture - and that is no little thing. It is not legislated or brought about by much hardship. Once it has a little more foothold in the culture, legislature will follow (or be pulled howling and screaming). ASPI is here with ideas and assistance and researching new possibilities for sustainability all the while.
It was brought to my attention that the application link for Grow Appalachia is currently not working. Until we get it back up you can download the two main papers to fill out here. You can bring those in or mail to office at 50 Lair St., Mt. Vernon, Ky 40456. You can also email them to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was the day before solstice, so we explored day, night, the Moon, and the Sun during Afternoon Discoveries. (Join us the third Friday of every month from 2:00 - 4:00 at the Mary E. Fritsch Nature Center. Ages 5-11.)
Just for some evening fun, try some of these "experiments" - almost all of us learn better by doing - and if you are an adult without little ones around, I bet you'll have fun! See if you know junior high astronomy!
Gather up a globe or ball to simulate a globe, a white balloon or ball smaller than your globe, and a lamp for a sun!
I didn't include any "answers." If you need some clarification, e-mail me at email@example.com.
Here are some warm-ups:
1. Use the lamp and Earth to demonstrate why the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. (You can use a bit of masking tape to mark the eastern seaboard in the U.S. to help remind children of their directions.)
Got the globe spinning? What direction?
2. Keep your Earth rotating. Look down at the North Pole. What direction is it spinning? Clockwise or counterclockwise?
3. Keep the Earth rotating the same direction. Look up at the South Pole. What direction is it spinning? Clockwise or counterclockwise?
So when we talk about the direction of planets, we have to use a reference point!
A little bit more complicated now. . .
4. Now, did you know the Earth is closer to the Sun in the Winter! (We're going to be referencing Winter and Summer for the Northern Hemisphere.) So, the seasons are not caused by the distance from the Sun. Maybe you've heard about the tilt. To help understand, hold your globe close to your Sun - level with in the same plane as the Sun. Look at the angle of "rays" hitting the Northern Hemisphere. Tilt the Northern Hemisphere away from the Sun. Tilt it toward the Sun.
So, does the Earth rock back and forth?
Hopefully, you can walk around your Sun. If not, designate an object you an walk around as the Sun. (It doesn't need to be a light for this.)
5. Hold the Earth at a "winter" angle - so the Northern Hemisphere is tilted back from the Sun. Note where in the room the North Pole is aimed. Keeping the North Pole aimed there - not changing the tilt of the Earth - walk half way around the Sun. How is the Earth now oriented with respect to the Sun? How long does it take the Earth to revolve around the Sun? Can you revolve your Earth around your Sun and note what season it would be in each quadrant?
Stick with it; this next part is cool!
6. Now, get rid of your globe. Your head is now the Earth! Let the Sun shine on it! Use your Moon and find where the Moon would have to be for the folks on Earth to see a full moon and a new moon. Where would the Moon need to be to see a quarter moon? Crescent? Gibbous?
Look up a moon phase chart if you need it - you can also record the moon phase each night.
7. Go through the phases of the moon around your head. (Wax on, wax off. You start with your right hand, correct? If the lit part of the moon is on the right, it is waxing - getting bigger. The waning moon is lit on the left.)
How long does it take the Moon to orbit the Earth?
Which direction is it orbiting? Remember to use a reference point!
8. We only see one side of the Moon. Put a sticker or mark on one side of your Moon. Taking it through all the phases around the Earth (your head), keep the mark facing the Earth. Does the Moon rotate on its axis? How often? What direction? (Remember to use a reference point!)
9. The Moon rises about an hour later each night. Why?
10. What arrangement of the Earth, Moon, and Sun causes a solar eclipse?
11. What arrangement of the Earth, Moon, and Sun causes a lunar eclipse?
Look up a schedule of eclipses.
12. Can you explain the schedule with your model? (Scientific theories are often called models. Remember theories are the best explanation of a phenomenon. They are not "little laws" - laws are the mathematical relationships of the universe.)
We have only received a few applications for Grow Appalachia for 2014. If you are planning to do so please try to get those back to us. Also, I have a company interested in donating some fruit trees this coming May. So if you are planning on being in the program and are interested in some fruit please get your email or phone number to me or you can reach me (Lisa) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-308-2102 I have to get back with them asap on what we would like. You can get more information on these trees at www.chiefrivernursery.com. The types they have offered us are apples (gala,honeycrisp, red delicious, winesap, and yellow delicious), moorpark apricot,north star cherry, concord grape, red gold nectarine, red haven peach, bartlett pear,and methley plum.
Every time I go to the Mary E. Fritsch Nature Center I have four more things to do than I can possibly get done. That problem stems from two good phenomena - we are planning new, exciting programs for the community and schools, and our facilities are in the forest where leaves fall, trails erode, plants grow, and spiders will continue to build webs to catch food.
I try, however, to always take a few minutes to be still and listen. Over the past few weeks, the birds are strikingly different. The commuters have all headed south and the aves that will over-winter are settling in for shorter, colder days. The numbers are down, the volume is down, but the messages are much clearer. Each chirp and whistle is much more distinct without all the competition. The cooler, drier air delivers a crisper sound, too.
The leaves no longer whisper above me. They rustle and crunch - and mostly on the ground, except for those oak leaves which refuse to let go until a new bud pushes them to complete the nutrient cycles decaying on the forest floor.
This week, the forest was very quiet compared to the wet spring (and summer this year) that brought out the riotous amphibians and insects. It occurred to me that another sound this fall rivaled those loud creatures - children. Small, medium, large, and I'll even be brazen enough to call the visitors from the Rockcastle Adult Day Center children. Who isn't a child when you picnic in the woods and sing songs around the campfire? And it did not matter the age of the boy who visited - four, ten, thirty-four, or seventy-four, they could not keep their hands off the irresistibly long, whippy bamboo. The diversity in ages also kept us on our toes with logistics. As our director said, "Eighty high school students take up a lot more space than 80 second graders." Eighty high school students can also do a lot of trail work and eat a lot of marshmallows!
This fall the sounds of children trying so hard to be quiet and listen for the calls and scamperings of animals, the sounds of children hunting for seeds, the sounds of children emptying arthropod pitfall traps and discovering BUGS!, the sounds children roasting marshmallows, the sounds of children clearing and planting a garden surrounded the nature center.
Outdoors we learn so much from listening - we learn about bird territories, squirrel habits, depth of rushing water. We gain an inner calm. It was beautiful to listen to children learning. While we want to share the skills and calmness of listening - and we will continue to do so, I do love to hear the laughter coming through the trees.