Friday, June 29, 2012

Da nanananananana nananana... BATS!

Bats are really cool animals. They are even cuter up close. Normally, animals are made more adorable by drawings and stuff, but with bats it's the opposite. Drawings of bats never do them justice. The little squeaky noises they make are even cuter!! I want to get a pet bat that will sit on my head, that would be nice. I found it interesting that according to Terry people seem to have become less afraid of bats in recent years, and to be honest I have to think that that has something to do with the return of the batman movies, etc. In any case, I want some bats for my backyard. Especially the really pretty silver ones.

Canoeing in French Creek

     Yesterday we took a three hour canoe trip in French Creek. It was a great experience to be able to have a great time with friends while experiencing amazing wildlife. Although maneuvering the canoe became challenging at times, it was always enjoyable to slow down and take a look at the diverse landscape of plants and animals. We even spotted a couple bald eagles! Along the way, we stopped at rocky banks to look for and discuss freshwater muscles and invasive species. We also ended up finding a couple of mud puppies along the way! We then stopped to cool off for a squirt gun fight and a nice swim. We had a great time canoeing and I am sure we will always remember the fun times we had!

While on our canoe trip, we went searching for freshwater mussels! We scanned the banks for the 26 different types of mussels in french Creek. We kept an eye out for zebra mussels, which campers found last year. Zebra mussels are an invasive species that latch on to other mussels and often kill them. Unfortunately, we did not find any while canoeing, although we found some later when we went on our Herp Hunt.

Hellbender Wrestling

We hunted for Hellbenders and got 10 that were recorded and probably a couple that were not. They were cute and very interesting. We also found Mudpuppies and a load of crayfish.

herp intro

The herp intro was very interesting. We learned a lot about amphibians and reptiles. The best part was when we got to hold real snakes. The snakes felt very strange, but they were very cool and they did not bite. I also liked feeding the box turtle. when we gave him food, he would look at it curiously before eating it. The herp intro was very cool to me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Catching Hellbenders

At French Creek, we caught wild hellbenders, the largest species of salamander in North America.  We split into two groups for finding hellbenders.  We found them by lifting up large, flat rocks to see if there were any under the rocks.  There were a lower amount of hellbenders than expected.  Once a hellbender was located, we used nets to capture them, and we then examined them.  We learned how to determine a hellbender's sex.  Males have heads that are broader than their shoulders, and females have heads that are narrower than their shoulders.  We also noticed various scars on some of the hellbenders.  We learned how to hold the hellbenders properly, because their slimy bodies make it easy for them to escape from our clutches.  The hellbenders were then released.  After handling the slimy amphibians, we used bleach to sanitize our hands.  In total, around 20 hellbenders were caught.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Macro-invertebrates Day 2

Today we took a trip to the upstream (before the Woodcock Dam) part of Woodcock creek.The micro-invertebrates we found in this part of the creek were far different in variety and number compared to the downstream (after the Woodcock Dam) part. It was very interesting to see how a stream can be effected by a dam including the animals that live in and around it. To catch some of the micro-invertebrates in the stream we split up into groups of three. Then we held a kick net in the water and kicked up the water in front of it to loosen the dirt and rocks. This allowed the animals to swim right into the net so we could take it out of the water and observe them. We compared the animals to discuss which ones were more susceptible to pollution and how they would adapt to live in a stream. We found many different macro-invertebrates including hellgrammites, water pennies, and dragonfly nymphs.

Pitt Labs!

Today we went to the Pitt labs and saw some tadpoles. They told us how pestasides affect the ecology of a pond. We got to see dragonfly nymphs eat grey tree frog tadpoles. We saw several different cattle troughs filled with several different affects of the pestaside in water. It was cool that they got to see their hypotheses worked out. To me the highlight of this excursion would be the awesome tadpoles.

Canoe Skills like a boss

Today after lunch, we went to Woodcock Dam and pulled out our canoes.Everyone was eager to get on the life jackets or PFDs. It was very windy out and some of us had some trouble steering the canoe but thankfully no one flipped their canoe into the lake.

Lunch at Eddie's and Casey's!

Today for lunch, we went to Eddie's and Casey's! At Eddie's we got delish foot long hot dogs and  fries. After eating, we went across the parking lot to Casey's and got ice cream. It was so good! They had lots of cool flavors like Frog and Nerd Heaven. All their flavors were great, and we totally loved the ice cream. Lunch today was the best!


Today we traveled to Pymatuning state park to look at the spillway.  We watched the masses of fish try to climb over each other so that they could eat the bread that we threw into the lake.  After we fed the fish loaves of bread, we learned about how much damage the bread can do in the water.  In reality, by throwing bread into the lake we are adding nitrates and phosphates to the water.  Adding these things messes up the lake's ecosystem, and in the future this could eliminate most of the life in the lake.

Mine Drainage & The Environment

We met Miranda Crotsley ,an environmental educator, and learned about mine drainage and its affects on the environment. We played a mining game and learned how the miners mined for coal. We learned about Jennings park and an endangered rattle snake native to PA prairies.


Last night we went to the Newton Observatory on campus. The building is really cool, it has a green dome on the roof. The observatory is really old, so you had to move the dome by hand. You had to repeatedly pull a rope attached to a pulley, this would rotate the dome. The telescope and the dome are over one hundred years old! Professor Lombardi showed us the Moon, Mars, stars, satellites, and my favorite of all Saturn! all of this was through the old telescope and this new high tech telescope at the observatory! Saturn was my favorite because you could see the planet with the rings really good. you could also see one of Saturn's moons! I had a really good time at the observatory.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Creek Chem, Part Deux

    This morning, we partook in our second day of running water tests at Woodcock Creek. This time, we ran tests above the dam.Today, I ran the alkalinity test with Elizabeth Siefert. the the name suggests, this process tests the alkalinity of the water running through the creek, or in other words the water's ability to resist change in pH. This was a quick and easy test where in we simply add drops of a chemical until the waters color stops changing, and then multiply the number of drops by 17 to get your answer. Woodcock Creek averaged 42.5 mg/L. Elizabeth Siefert and I got some of the chemical on our hands, which turned them blue when we went to look for critters.


Today we headed down to Woodcock creek to go electrofishing! Three biologists came down to join us with the electrofishing equipment. First we learned about the different organizations that help to keep the streams in Pennsylvania healthy and stocked with fish. Then, using the equipment, the biologists sent electric currents through the water to stun the fish. When the fish are hit, they roll over and expose their lighter colored bellies, which makes it easier to see them. Campers followed the biologists with nets and buckets to scoop up the stunned fish.When all of our catches were gathered together, the biologists told us about the different kinds of species. Then, we released all of the fish back into the water. It was really fun!

tree coring

We cored trees by drilling into them and then pulling the sample out of the tree. We stored the samples in straws and taped both ends so that the wood from the trees stayed stored safely. We also measured each tree to see if it was big enough for someone to cut down. If the tree was at least 16 units around 4.5 ft from the ground, it was big enough to cut. I learned about four different kinds of trees and I thought it was very interesting.

Owl Watching

Last night at nine o'clock sharp we went owl watching.  It was very cold, the temperature was 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mr. Mumme took us to many different places in the cemetery.  To attract the owls, Mr. Mumme played owl calls on a CD player.  Unfortunately, we were only able to see one owl.  We tried many places but did not see any owls.  We finally saw a Screech owl when we arrived back on campus.  Overall the trip was a lot of fun and very exciting. 

French Creek

We traveled to French Creek via car, and were there from around 2:30 to around 4:00.  While we were there, we did not do any experimentation.  We were just there for fun.  While there, some people tried to find and catch fish and mussels in the creek.  A snake was also caught.  The stream had a riparian zone consisting of forest and land covered by grass.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We had a DAM Time

Today we visited the Woodcock Dam on Woodcock Creek. We walked out half-way and talked about how "cool" it would be to ski and slide down the sides of the Dam into the lake and the grass on the other side. We were all amazed at how long it was and how it works. Sahar, one of the girls counselors, was having fun playing around with her hat and acting like a nerd making the campers smile. It was windy today when we were up there and we stopped to talk about the Dam and its function. 

Geology Streamtable!

This afternoon, we went into the Alden geology building on campus and learned about stream tables. The stream table looked like a giant bathtub filled with sand and water. It represents the environment and how streams and rivers evolve over time. A hose at the top fills up a "lake" and you can let the water flow and represent erosion in streams. It was a lot of fun to make rivers and dam up the water! We built mountains and watched them collapse, saw the groundwater fill up, and played with sand! Our dam failed miserably, but we had a blast playing in our mini beach with the little cowboys and dump trucks. It was great!

Allegheny College

Today we went on a tour where we learned about the green and sustainable elements of Allegheny college.  We explored the different ways in which the college has grown to be environmentally friendly.  These ways include adding geothermal heating and cooling systems, using recycled materials, installing dual-flush toilets, and taking advantage of alternative energy sources to power the college.  Here are some photos!


Today we dug in the mud and under rocks to find different species of macroinvertebrates. Today we have caught some scuds, crawdads, and lot of other cool and epic stuff. We used a yellow cloth with two poles on the outer edge as the device to capture them. While two people held the poles the others went upstream to stir up rocks and silt. After we caught a number of different macroinvertebrates we estimated the number of each insect caught and from that we derived at the conclution of how clean the water was.


We did an activity that involved using a GPS to go to different locations.  At first, we received a strip of paper with a set of coordinates written on  it. We learned how to use the GPS, learning how to type in the coordinates we needed to go to and how to locate said coordinates.  Using the GPS systems, we walked to the location that we were supposed to go to.  At that location, we discovered a container that contained yet another set of coordinates, and we traveled there.  This cycle repeated several times.  Once we reached our final destination, we each received a drawstring bag that contained a shirt, a towel, and a head lamp.

First Night

We started off team building with a good movie, the Iron Giant, talking and just hanging out.We also did some icebreaker games, red rover, and kickball.

water Chemistry

Today we went down stream in Woodcock Creek to test different water chemistry parameters. They were temperature, pH, dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, alkalinity, and turbidity. the creek was really clear and cold. I had a lot of fun, I can't wait to go back tomorrow!