We have just finished our eight week Spring Exploration Series and this year was one to remember. For those who don’t know, this series is a program where the ERC invites science presenters into 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. After a busy, two-day schedule, the presenters see more than 450 students each week from schools around Blaine County. Speakers hail from Idaho institutions including museums and National Park Service offices. This year we had an incredible line up of presenters from all over Southern Idaho.
A big highlight for the students (me included) was the World Center for Birds of Prey. Mike Garets and Joe Fodor from the Center brought in three raptors and talked about the birds’ biology, ecology, and habitat. We learned different aspects of each raptor including the various hunting methods of owls, falcons, and hawks.
Another fun presentation was done by Becky O’Neill and Randi Dooms of the Idaho Museum of Natural History. They set up a mammoth murder crime scene and had students deduce which suspect most likely killed the mammoth. The big hint was a spear point from an atlatl which is a throwing device that was used to lengthen the range of a spear. While going through the murder suspects, students learned of some vicious ice age creatures such as the short-faced bear and saber-toothed cats.
Not all of our presentations were on creatures past and present. Alana Jensen from INL came to the Valley to teach kids about motion and Newton’s three laws. Although this may sound like a boring subject, Alana brought in countless demonstrations to show how these laws relate to real life experiences which made her presentation one of the most exciting.
Of course, this eight week program saw other great presenters involved from Idaho Power, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and the Pocatello Zoo. Something that stood out to me about this program is that it creates a win-win-win situation. Students and teachers enjoy the enriched science learning, presenters reach high numbers of students in just two days, and the ERC furthers its mission of science education among our community’s youth.
Finally, I would like to give a big thank you to the Knob Hill Inn who graciously donated rooms for a few of our presenters. We could not do this program without the great community support we get and the Knob Hill Inn is a great example of this.