Monday, July 25, 2011
TO ALL 2011 CREEK CAMPERS: Creek Connections hopes you have wonderful memories of Creek Camp. We all thoroughly enjoyed sharing the time and our amazing part of the world with you!
Please share some of your thoughts/memories in the comments... or send your comments to us and we'll post them for you. Enjoy the rest of your summer!!
Friday, July 22, 2011
Yesterday we went hellbender hunting. The second rock we picked up contained an Eastern hellbender. They told us they were slimy, but i didnt expect them to be that slimy. It got away and after Ben caught a hellbender Mark went on a rampage to find one. He said we wouldnt leave without one. Mark saw one swim between his legs, but was busy supporting the big rock. We spent like 15 minutes searching for that large critter. Mark said, "We're gonna scope until we cant scope no more". So thats what we did, scope. Finally, Mark spotted it. Staring straight at me in the open water. I stared it back, hard. We had this intense like cowboy in a field 'only room for one of us' look for like 5 minutes! Then I took one step and was just like TAKEDOWN! I grabbed that critter by the neck like it was chocolate cake! Throw that sucker in the net and the rest was history. Everyone was like, "Woo" and I was all, "That's right, told you I got this". Ben may have caught the first, but I saw the first and caught the last and the LARGEST! How you like them apples, Ben? Jeez I ate so many apples this week...alrighty well Im gonna go. Fun day...
While our creek camper groups were hunting for hellbenders, we were also competing against each other in a bio scavenger hunt. The list of items included many different animals from the week, including fish, turtles, macroinvertebrates, and snakes. The teams had many great finds, including sponges, crayfish, zebra mussels, and caddisflies. However, the illustrious Team Winner, led by incomparably awesome counselor Briana, clinched the win, after an anonymous golden-haired Ohioan found a species of turtle that had never been found in the stream before. And BOOM goes the dynamite.
The coal mining industry showed increment during 19Th century and 20Th century due to the increase of usage of trains for transportation. Especially in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the most coal mines were placed, was the most popular site for mining the coals. The workers, ironically, were not mostly Americans, but either people from Europe who were looking for jobs because of the Great Depression, which caused by the World War 1, or young children who dropped schools.
Mining seems easy, however it is not. The miners had to carry all their tools with them every time, and it is very dark inside even when they have light. Moreover, the area inside the mine is very small that a man can barely fit in. This is why the children were welcome to the mines.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Today we gathered around the canoes, lathered and relathered on the sunscreen, and headed out. Paired with great friends, Mark claimed we would all hate each other by the end of the trip due to our frustration with the canoes. The water was so deep! A TOTAL 1.6 FEET! I thinke we did prettay well if i do say so myself with all the 'conditions' we dealt with. We stopped to swim a few times and look at critters. Our canoes cruzed into the shore and the water started spraying! Everyone was armed with squirt guns! We all got soaked, even if you didnt want to. The water was dark so it was very enjoyable to swim below the water and grab peoples legs. Enough said. It was fun. We pulled our canoes to shore after a long day. I stepped our into a huge pile of mud/ quick sand and my foot sunk a foot. I almost tipped the canoe and Brian had to pulle me out. But we saw a goat, so its all good. A successful ending to a great day.
During a busy day of canoeing and exploring, Brian, our canoe master, taught us about freshwater mussels. Brian sent us out to find both alive and dead mussels. My favorite was the pocketbook mussel. It is named after its pocketbook shape. Mussels are really neat creatures.
A few days ago, we went bat watching! Our guides for the night were Terri and Miranda. Terri is one of the few in the country who build bat boxes. Most of the bats he had were called Little Brown Bats. Most people believe mice and bats are closely related but actually, the bat is closer to the lemur which means that bats are closely related to us! Terri told us that the reason he had so many bats was because he was near water. When the bats first come out at night, they go to the nearest water source. That is why they are more bats found near water.
Last night we went to the Newton Observatory which was on the Allegheny College campus. We took lots of pictures when we were walking there and it was so fun! When we got to the observatory, the owner led us up to a room with a round roof and a very large, antique telescope. He showed us how it worked and moved, and we even got to see Saturn through it! It was amazing because it did not look real. It just looked like someone put a sticker on the telescope. Most of us had never seen Saturn that close, so it was pretty exciting. Then, we went out onto the deck and watched for satellites. As it got darker, more and more stars started appearing in the sky. We were all glad it was a clear night because we could see so many stars! We also learned about constellations and star names! It was a very relaxing night to just lay down with friends and gaze at the stars!!
Today was a day filled with terracotta, plants, fish, and tomatoes. We started by heading to the Steffee and Doane Hall of Biology and Chemistry. We all crowded into the elevator and arrived on the roof! We walked down a hall and ended up in the greenhouse. The greenhouse was composed of two aquaponic systems! The first system involved terracotta beads, water, plants, and two fish tanks. Water flowed into the terracotta beads which filtered out the nutrients. The beads are made out of the same material that flower pots are, however, they are significantly lighter than they look! filtering out the nutrients allows plants to grow in the beads. After the water was filtered through the beads it went through a pipe which led to the first fish tank. The water was then taken from that fish tank, and filtered into the next fish tank. The water continues to go through this cycle continually. The second system was composed of fish, tomato and basil plants, water, and plastic bacteria collectors. Water was placed in the fish tank which contains trout. The water is then filtered through plastic bacteria collectors that look like noodles. After this the water circulates to the basil and tomato plants. We were allowed to taste the tomatoes and they were AMAZING! They didn't taste like what you expect a tomato to taste like. It was sweet, crispy, and not artificially red!!! (: (:
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
After lunch, we took a trip to visit the Linesville fish hatchery. At the hatchery we saw examples of almost every game fish species, living in a huge tank. The tank was designed with windows all throughout its sides, letting us see huge fish up close! However, that wasn't the main attraction of the hatchery. It is the main hatchery for an amazing species called the paddlefish. Its strange shape and huge paddle nose makes it look like a prehistoric creature. The hatchery is helping to reintroduce this locally-endangered species to the Allegheny and the surrounding rivers. We had a great opportunity, seeing these rare fish up close.
Actors on TV make canoeing look so hard to do. They strain and grunt, with muscles ripling and heavy sweat glistening off of their bodies. Canoeing is actually much easier than it looks. The water supports the weight of the canoe and anyone in it, and it is easy to make the canoe move with the oars. Considering the extreme heat of the day, and the fact that the canoes were made of all metal, it was cool. The temperature on the middle of the lake was cooler than the land, where several of us had the beginning of heat headaches. I hope the actual canoe trip down the creek is just as easy.
Yesterday we stopped by French creek to cool down from our 'completely comfortable' day. Everyone got out and shuffled to the creek...well everyone except Janessa and me (katie)...I asked (well more like begged) her to get her suit on with me. We got all decked out in our suits, goggles, and snorkels and headed down. We saw the instant jealousness painted on everyones faces. The water was surprisingly warm and not turbid at all! We scanded the floors filled with clams, fish, and bugs that could 'supposidely' stung like bees. We gathered a bunch of clamshells to decorate ROOM C! It was so wicked! Others walked across the shallow and caught minos with their nets, but not us. We prefered to catch our fish with our bare hands! We didnt catch any, but we tried really hard. The day grew old, so we headed home. Leaving all the awesomeness of the creek behind us...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
We finished our tests on the water chemistry tests on Woodcock Creek, upstream from the dam. We'll compare the nutrient, temperature, and pH readings from today to the readings we got downstream yesterday. Hopefully, the measurements can be used to see if there's any difference between the water chemistry above and below the dam. A difference could be used to show any environmental effect the dam has on the health
of the stream. O__o
of the stream. O__o
What is the scariest place to go owl hunting you ask? How about a cemetery, in pitch black night, with a guy named Mr.Mumme! We ventured out with our unicorn headlights in the millions of bugs and got to see a barred owl, 1 of the four popular owl's in Pennsylvania. Mr.Mumme held a CD player up that played the recording of the owl's song and he/she would call back 'who cooks for you, who cooks for yalll.' It was an amazing experience that we all enjoyed and will never forget!(:
This afternoon we were in Stainbrook Park, which is right by the Woodcock Dam. Three college students came and talked about trees near streams and how they are so important to the surrounding ecosystem. We then got to core trees, which was really entertaining. Most of us cored Easter Hemlock Trees and then counted the number of rings to determine how old it was. We could also see how good the growing season was that year by the size of the ring. It was really fun, and I wish I could have done more trees, but it's not completely good for it. We also went to see a slab of a humongous tree trunk. It was over 270 years old, and it was labeled with the years significant events such as the Declaration of Independence and when the presidents were voted into office. I didn't expect that trees could be so interesting!!
Macrosampling is the measuring of invertebrates in a stream. It is done by placing a net on the streambed and kicking up the dirt in front of it to dislodge any creatures hanging onto the rocks. We were only looking for invertebrates, so we unfortanetly had to throw the fish and crayfish back into the stream. Then we picked up the bugs and put them into a tank. Upstream did not yield as many bugs as downstream did, but there were more fish and crayfish that were larger than they were in the downstream area.
Today was a day of electricity, thrill, biological creatures, and waders. This was a day many of the campers were looking forward too! Early this morning, we headed to the Woodcock stream to go electrofishing. There to help us were two men from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. We stepped into the unique waders fitted for us and we headed to the stream. We were all anxious to grab a net and get in the water to catch stunned fish! Right before entering the water, we were given safety instructions. We were all half listening because all we cared about was getting in the water until the scariest words of the day were spoken... one of the men from the PA DEP told us that if we touched the water there was a chance we would be shocked! He also told us that the shock was not pleasant and that it felt like you were grabbing an electric fence! This made some of us weary, but not enough to kill the excitement. Soon after we headed down the creek, there were fish floating by and nets going everywhere!The buckets were filling fast and there were many different types of fish being collected. We followed the men from the PA DEP like our lives depended on it. The best feeling was when they lifted up their nets to put the fish in the buckets. It gave you a feeling of accomplishment and excitement! At the moment it seemed like it was the only thing that mattered. That was until we realized we still had to identify the fish and we got a chance to look at them up close. When the time came, we all gathered around the buckets and listened as the fish were identified and we got an up close look. We passed around the fish and waited with impatience for our turn to be passed the container! After the fish were identified and accounted for, we got a chance to reach in and grab them for ourselves. The fish were all unique and amazing! We caught big ones, small ones, colorful ones, and even camouflaged ones! Letting them go was very satisfying. We all knew that we spent a lot of time catching, identifying, and "playing" with them. But when we let them go, we knew that they were helping us with our project and they still had the chance to live and keep the fish cycle flowing! (:
Monday, July 18, 2011
Started off the week with geocaching. I had a lot of fun following a trail of GPS points across Allegheny campus. We also got to know the other campers and got oriented on campus along the way. Plus, we got free bags, headlamps, and popsicles at the end, so that definitely made the hunt worthwhile. Im thinking about trying to do some geocaching on my own when I get home. It seems like it would be a good twist on regular camping, and a good way to have fun with some friends.
At our first full day at Creek Camp, we played in a giant sandbox. However, it wasn't all tomfoolery. We learned about erosion and topography. After, we made some mountains and found dinosaurs, Native Americans, and miner figurines under the wet sand. We also faught for water from a stream and flooded each others' castles.
On our first night at Creek Camp, we were supposed to be getting to know each other. It was all going well. until Samuel came. The game was broken up as we tried to secretly read the comic on Sam's shirt. We gave up on being sneaky, and crowded around him to read his shirt, which was a warning about global warming. Someone took a picture of it.
Polar Bear: There is no TIME!!!
Penquin: Then I'll make time. The humans must be told. This concerns all of us.
Polar Bear: There is no TIME!!!
Penquin: Then I'll make time. The humans must be told. This concerns all of us.
The Dam!!! We got to got to an exclusive tour of the dam that not many people get to do. We met Joe who taught us what the dam is used for. There were four uses which included flood control, low flow augmentation, navigation and recreation. Joe taught us how to pronounce Corps correctly! We learned that they had to rise the dam 19 feet in the spring due to the flooding in the Mississippi. If you tried to jump off the platform of the the dam there is a high probability that you would fall to your death and painfully! We also learned that a man was sledding on the hill near the dam in the winter and broke his back. But turns out he was a wanted criminal, so it all worked out.
This morning, we went to Woodcock Creek to test the water quality and to catch aquatic macroinvertebrates! We went in the water in small groups with large yellow nets to catch them. We put the nets at an angle and placed rocks at the bottom to hold it in place so no organisms would pass under the net. Then, one person kicked the rocks at the bottom of the creek to make sure we could catch the organisms living underneath them. After that, we took the nets out and used tweezers to pick off the macroinvertebrates we could see on the net into a tray full of water. We then identified the organisms we saw with a dichotomous key. It was really interesting to see the biodiversity because we can't see everything living in the creek with the naked eye. I've never seen or heard of most of the things we saw! An interesting thing we found was a whirligig beetle larva. The adult beetles actually smell like fruit loops! Overall, it was really cool to be outside in the creek and observing organisms I've never seen before! I'm really excited to go to the creek again in the next few days!!
Today we scrambled into the cafe for our usual lunch feasting. But instead of sitting at 'our table' they told us to go wait in the lobby! After a sad disappointment from the absense of ice cream we went upstairs to avoid the downpour outside. They bustled us into a comference room. We ate in silence (manly because Mark wasnt around to entertain us with his 'typical' self), until a lady came in with apologies of her lateness. Turns out she was here to talk about the travel through the college search and the greatness of Allegheny college! We all screamed in excitement! (we could barely handle our excitement, but we held it together because of the 'intenseness' of this comference room). She let us fill out forms and she even let us go around and discuss our answers on our forms! After hearing about parents being difficult with letting there kids decide their college, I briefly discribed my moms interest in college visits and SAT's and she said, 'she'd get along well with my mom'. It was so much fun I didnt even want to leave! But we all need to move on sometime, so we lifted up our folders and trugged out of the room. With sadness stretched across our faces...
Despite of the splended design of construction of Allegheny College, most of the buildings were build with recycled materials. For example, the carpet on the floor, they are numerous seperated carpets, which were also made with recycled carpets. Except of those salt containers, the whole construction were very impresive via the idea of recycling.
Today when we got up, we headed to the Woodcock Creek. We were located downstream below the Woodcock Dam in Stainbrook Park! While there, we tested water quality. This required testing the pH, turbidity, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids (tds), temperature, nitrogen, and phosphorus levels. Before getting to the stream, we came together as a team and discussed what we thought the differences in the above tests would be from upstream to downstream. To ensure we were getting accurate results, we took two samples of the water and we did each test twice. We took the two samples at the same time and in roughly the same spot. We divided up into groups of two and performed the tests. Each test came with a colorful sheet that held the directions. When going through the test, we followed this sheet religiously!!! We had to be certain that we did the test to the best of our ability because the results will be used in our final project! (: (:
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Thank you to all the campers for a wonderful Session I. We hope you all learned a lot but also had a lot of fun. Remember to never give up and always pursue your passions and follow your dreams. Have a great rest of your summer and we hope that this past week broadened your love of the environment. Thanks again for coming!!
Friday, July 15, 2011
Today we went to one of the most awesome programs that creek camp offers; catching hellbender in french creek. It was so cool! Hellbenders are the largest salamander in Pennsylvania, and they are pretty high up in the list of the largest salamanders in the world. Unfortanatly, hellbenders and all of the other amphibians in the world are facing a deadly disease that is spreading quickly. This disease is called chytrid disease and is wiping out species around the world before we can even research them. We had to conduct our hellbender catching in a certain way, so that we could test them for this disease and try to stop it from spreading. Every salamander took about ten minutes to process, and while it was being processed, no one could lift up any rocks or find any salamanders. So we ended up catching about 10 salamanders and processing them. To find the salamanders we looked under extremley large rocks, but there was one rock that was massive that had two underneath. One of the other memorable hellbenders had a large wound on its head. We were told that another hellbender had gripped its head and cut that hellbender with its velcro like teeth. Everyone was able to feel the hellbenders that secrete a mucus when they are scared and were intensly slimy. However, because of chytrid disease, everyone had to spray their hands after touching the hellbender with 10% bleach. It was fun to catch all of the hellbenders, but it was a little bittersweet being one of the last things that we did and because of the chytrid disease.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Yesterday, we went to Woodcock Dam for a intro to canoeing. Most of us had been canoeing before, but for some of us this was the first time. Before we got on the water, we had a lecture about different types of life jackets, which was actually really interesting because we got to wear the life jackets. It was two people to a canoe. The person in the bow was the less experienced and smaller paddler, whereas it was the opposite for the person in the stern. Each pair had to unload and carry their canoes from the trailer to the water. Once on the water, we learned some useful strokes for manuvering. To test it out, Keith Edwards, our guide, pointed us toward a spot on the opposite side of the dam to paddle toward in a straight line. However, the few boats that did go to the opposite side couldn't hear the shouts to come back though because they were upwind. Fortunatly, everyone made it back to the right side of the dam. when we docked and put the boats back on the trailer, I had lots of fun tying down all of the boats.(I guess I was missing crew). Overall a very fun and relaxed experience for everyone!
Thursday afternoon, the students from Creek Camp were introduced to various species of reptiles and amphibians that inhabit northwestern Pennyslvania. Students were able to hold snake species such as the milksnake, cornsnake, and gaurder, as well as the American toad, boxturtle, snapping turtle, and spring peeper. They were also taught how to distinguish posionous snake species from non-posionous species.
Last night, we had the great opportunity to visit the old Newton Observatory here on campus. Even though it's used now for security, we got to go up and see the ancient telescope, which was very neat because you could see all the gears and how it functions. It even had a system of falling weights that allowed it to trace an object on its path across the night sky. Through this telescope, we were able to view the moon, and we also got an amazing view of Saturn with its rings. Out on the roof of the observatory, we were able to view three satellites as they moved across the sky, and also identified constellations such as Cassiopeia and the Swan. Getting to see such majestic, faraway objects like you could never see with the naked eye was unreal and spectacular. It was a fantastic experience!
During our canoe trip today, we investigated different watersheds along French Creek. While we were going down French Creek, we could see that erosion was highly evident and that the water levels were low. We stopped half way through the trip so that our leaders, Jim and Brian, could educate us about mussels species and their habitat, eating rituals, and population numbers. Then, all of the campers went out into the water to try and find the different types of mussels. Finding dead mussels was also interesting because you are able to see the different colors of the shell insides; they ranged from pearl white to blue-green. Some species included rabbit foot, and the kidney mussels, which both looked very similar to their names. As we continued down the creek, we were able to observe how the creek varied in its landscape, such as water levels, rocks, and the amount of trees in the surrounding landscape. Canoeing was a bunch of fun!
April Claus visited us today and took us to find salamanders. We looked in a cold water spring and in damp wooded areas. We found 13 different types of salamanders. Adam found the most diverse and we were really proud of him. Allison found the only Long Tail Salamander. And Derek was the first to catch a salamander.
After we got back and started blogging Mark looked down and found a Red Spotted Newt!! We have no idea how he got here, but it was a really neat surprise.
In the Bousson Preserve today, we met a herpetologist named April, who showed us all of the many salamanders and newts in the forest. First we went to the spring. The water there was cold enough that even with a small amount of water, there ws enough oxygen to sustain a wide array of creatures. W e found Northern Reds, Duskies, slimys, and a plethora of other salamanders. When we went into the woods, we found many similar species and a species of long-tailed newts that has never been seen in the area before. In all we had fun and it sparked an interst in herpetology. When we got back to the dorms, one of the councelors found a red spotted newt on the ground with lint on its feet, indicating that it decided to hitch a ride here!
We went on a canoe trip on french creek. after we put the boats in, we stopped on a sandbar and talked about mussles and the different spieces that live in french creek. then we looked for live mussles in the creek. after the talk about the mussles, we had a snack on the bank and then continued the trip. about half a mile later we stopped at another sandbar and looked for more mussles, swam and then got attacked with water guns. then we continued the float. one boat flipped, and that was a hassle. we finished the rest of the trip without another incedent or break. we stopped at a boat launch and had lunch and put the canoes away.
OMG...i've never seen a hellbender before today. I mean i've seen pictures, but not in real life. They are huge. I love them now, totally my fav animal. Also i've decided that I want to get a corn snake. They are beautiful! Maybe eventially my mom will let me have one. Along with our 3 dogs, 7 rabbits, ect. it would totally fit in. I can't wait untill i can sleep in my own bed....I will miss creek camp and all the wonderful people that I got to meet. It was totally worth coming. We also went canoeing in french creek, which was fun but so tyring. I'm so ready to bed! I Love Watersheds!!!!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wednesday afternoon, students from Creek Connections visited Pymatuning's spillway. After eating lunch, students began feeding the carp, geese, and ducks with loaves of bread. However, we soon after learned of the negative effects our actions possessed. The phosphorus present in the chemical composition of the bread is readily consumed by the wildlife. The phosphorus is then excreted as waste by the organisms. Unfortunately this pollutes the lake and drastically limits the diversity of life.
Today, we were introduced to a new, innovative way of growing crops. Aquaponics and hydroponics are a method based on the idea that plants can grow in pure nutrients and don't necessarily need dirt. It starts out with a group of Talapia in a tank that are grown and fed, and their excraments are collected in a tube. It is filtered out in a machine and funneled into a tub of water. tomato plants are in cups where their roots go down to touch the water and suck up food and water. I found it very intresting because it was so innovative from traditional plant growing, and because of how easy it was to set one up in a normal house. I think that this technology will really advance in several years into something that is very widespread.
Today we visited the Pitt labs at Pymatuning. We got to see the types of tests they were preforming like seeing what type of leaf litter tadpoles preferred. We also learned about eutrophication which is the overgrowth of algae on the surface of water. Lastly we hiked though poison ivy and a wasp nest looking for ponds in the woods. Sadly the wasp attack ended our tour of the Pitt labs but overall it was fun and interesting.
today, we visited the infamous pymatuming lake. everytime i go to pymatuming lake, i never want to leave. when we left, it was very hard for me to leave, because it is such a beautiful lake, that it captivates the hearts of everyone who visits this lake. i want to go again sometime soon, but i live an hour and a half away from the lake. oh well, maybe next year haha
We visited the Linesville Fish Hatchery, where they hatch and raise warm water fish of Pennsylvania. One fish they're raising and stocking to the Ohio and Allegheny River, is the Paddlefish. A species of fish that has been exterbated from Pennsylvania. This means it no longer lives naturally in the wild. We were all really excited to see them and also see how hatcheries work.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday night we visited the local cemetery with Professor Mumme in search for owls. The most common owl that we were looking for was a Barred Owl. They're a medium sized owl that makes a very unique screech. Many people say it sounds like they're saying, "Who cooks for you, Who cooks for you all." When we found a site that had perfect conditions for the Barred Owl we played a recording of their screech. We were out there for some time before we finally heard the hoot of a young (teen) Barred Owl. Their call is different from their parents, it's more of a high pitched screech. After listening to him or her for awhile we discovered that there were two adolescent owls. We listened and called to them; trying to get them to come out so we can see them, but after awhile we had to give up and go home. But we were all still very excited that we got to hear the young owls. And learn a lot about different species of owls living in the area.
On Tuesday, we learned about trees. We found out how to tell how old trees are. we took core samples of different types of trees to find out how old they are. we also climbed into a black willow tree. it is one of the biggest in the state. learning about trees was entertaining and very interesting.
mark teaching water chemistry tests
mark teaching water chemistry tests
Water chemistry today was upstream from Woodcock Dam. The area upstream was much more wooded than the site downstream from the dam, and the stream was very shallow with prominent rock beds unlike the downstream site with almost no rock beds. Many of the tests that we completed had very similar or the same results as the tests we took downstream. The averages for tds (total dissolved oxygen) were the same for both upstream and downstream.
little green monster
Much of the other tests followed the same pattern including the temperature, which was only two degrees warmer upstream than downstream. The only big thing was forgetting to do the phosphorus test, which takes at least 10 min to complete. Phosphorus naturally comes from the wearing down of rock, and it is extremly rare to find a lot in a stream. Of course, everyone was sure to dump their waste in the waste bottle, and rinse their containers like test tubes with distilled water before putting them away. Besides the chemistry tests, we also found some interesting larger critters. We caught a crayfish with eggs on its lower abdomen, and a cute little green frog. Later, the results from the water chemistry tests will be important for creating a presentation that will be shown on Friday.