Thursday, July 10, 2014


Today, April came to talk to us about the different reptiles and amphibians that live here in Pennsylvania; especially about the different toads/frogs, snakes, turtles and salamanders. We got to hold two kinds of snakes, as well as a turtle. We could also observe a toad and many baby toads that were in a cage.

*Night Sky*

Last night, 7/09/2014, we had the chance to hear from Professor Lombardi in the planetarium and the observatory. In the planetarium he went over the more well-known constellations, including the Big and Small Dippers. He showed us the path of the sun on August 3rd (my birthday) and what the sky would look like that night. We learned that in 13,000 years, the star Vega will have replaced the position of the North Star.

From there we went to the observatory where once the clouds passed, we were able to get a clear look at the moon and its craters.

We also went to the outdoor telescope and recognized Saturn and Mars. We trained the inside telescope on the two planets and were amazed at the perfection of the two. They both looked like little stickers on the end of the lens!

Lunch at the Lake!

Today we visited Sugar Lake. We all built up a big appetite after canoeing around the lake for a while and partaking in an intense water gun battle, so we docked our canoes and headed on shore for lunch. We all had so much fun! We ate delicious subs, chips, and of course lots of chocolate! We will all remember our last full day at camp fondly.

Insects Insects Insects

We visited the organic garden at the campus today. We took meal worms and pinned them to clay. We ate cooked meal worms. The meal worms were good and tasted like sunflower seeds. Then we hid the meal worms through out the garden. We were looking for what insects we could find that would try to eat the meal worms. We picked up the insects with a tube thing that we sucked the insects into a cup. We found things such as grasshoppers, moths, and ants. Then we used a chart to identify the insects that we found. It was cool to find so many insects that were trying to eat the meal worms.


Everyone had a lot of fun on Sugar Lake canoeing in the beauty of the day. The sun was beating, the lake was shining, the fish were swimming (even though Chad couldn't catch any), and the war was churning up. A water war that is! From being sprayed by water guns, pumpers, and bucket fulls of water, to boats tipping over, everyone had a lot of fun!

I Scream for Ice Cream!

Today we were trying to go to Eddie's which was a family owned hot dog restaurant, but when we got there we discovered that it was closed! We then decided that we were going to Subway for lunch. We all had to pair up and order a foot long sub. We ate them in a park a little ways away. After lunch we went to Casey's an ice cream store. They made homemade ice cream and waffle cones that made the store smell amazing.  We were able to get great ice cream flavors like cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, cinnamon bun, and Meadville mud. After posing in front of the famous sign we all had to get in the car and leave.

The Mystical Land of Bousson

Today we went on a wild adventure through the wood of Bousson.  We found a new species of two tailed salamanders.  We got eaten by carnivorous insects.  We even got to find that we are not very balanced.

Crazy Fish Spillway/Hatchery

Creek Connections is a lot of fun. Today Tuesday after a pretty funny lunch we went to a spillway located at Pymatuning. The spillway separates the sanctuary from the actual reservoir. And there are a lot of different animal species like a seagull, Canada geese and a lot of carps. And we fed them with bread. They went crazy for having a little piece of bread. The goose also ate bread. And then we went to the hatchery where they focus on the walleye fish. A walleye fish egg looks like a little gold penny. They look so cute!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mystery Garden!

Wednesday morning we went to Carr-den, which is Carr Halls' garden. The garden was built when students wanted to actually work in a garden rather than just learning about them.We were given a map of the garden and walked around trying to identify each vegetable and fruit. We then were told what each was and checked whether we were right or not. Everything is organically grown and used by chefs on campus.

The carr-den has public sales on Wednesday's from 11 am to 2 pm at the Campus Center. Come buy some organic fruits and veggies! Try the carrots, take it from someone who's eaten one, they're delicious!


That Dam Lake Canoeing

Before going to the creek to canoe, we took the boats out to get some practice on the lake by the dam.  We got life vests, paired up, then went out onto the water to get the hang of things.  Everyone stayed afloat and more or less dry (no one tipped their canoe.)  Most of the creekers figured out how to work the oars and canoes fairly quickly, with the exception of a few people.



When we first learned about bats, the species that we learned about were the big and little brown bats. There was visual aid provided about the types of homes that they live in and where they are most comfortable. The man that introduced bats to us gave us some interesting facts such as: they are not flying rats (nowhere near close) and the mother bats usually stay in the same bat house that they give birth in and it takes a few years to adjust and get comfortable with another bat house. Also, bats usually come out when the street lights come out. We also learned that bats like the warm temperature and depending on where the sun is hitting on the bat house, that is where they stay. However, if the sun becomes too hot, the bats will move where ever it is cooler. Bats also tend to do interesting things such as yawning and stretching like humans which is something else that is interesting that we learned about them. I liked the fact that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and ignore my perception about bats and actually learn something about them and have a liking to them.

This is one of the bats that we explored while we were at Creek Camp. These bat houses can hold
the capacity of about over 50 bats and most of them are juvenile (young).

Acid Mine Drainage, oh no!

Today we had a bit of a history lesson, taught by Miranda from Jennings State Park. At first the rusty old tools on the table puzzled us, but all became clear as we began learning about one of our State's most important resources, coal. We watched one of our fellow campers dress up and do the duty of a child miner, and it was both entertaining and eye opening.

Then we played a game which taught us more about life in the mines, and some of us experienced tragic mine accidents.

As we continued our talk about Pennsylvania's mines, we finally connected all this history to environmental science. After all, this is creek camp. As it turns out, these abandoned mines are relevant today because the pollution is ruining streams across the state. We learned about Jennings State Park, which had a creek affected by this acid mine pollution. A group of people got together to try and fix the stream in the most environmentally friendly way possible, and they pioneered a technique that has become popular today. Next we did an activity to test the effectiveness of the treatment by testing water from before and after. We found that the treated water was perfectly healthy, yay!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Macro ID: Flashcards vs. Online Database

Yesterday Marti Louw, from the University of Pittsburgh, came to test the practicality and the accuracy of her new online database: There were multiple stations set up with different aquatic macroinvertebrates, each accompanied with either a set of flashcards or a tablet with the database open. We made observations about each macro, then used the resources to try to identify the bug by its order and its family. We recorded our confidence in our answers and which tool helped us identify the macro. 

Once we were all finished, Marti read us the answers and we found that when using the online database, we were much more accurate. That being said, there was an almost even split of the group; about half preferring the online database and the other half favoring the flashcards. The people that preferred the flashcards agreed that the flashcards required you to work harder for your answer and therefore, we learned and remember more. The half that preferred the database more liked the quickness and versatility of the website, along with it's larger collection of information. Everyone agreed that in modern times, the database is definitely the way to go!


Whoa! Feeling a little hyper. Maybe it could be that electric feeling. Today we went to the upstream of the French Creek and went fishing!!! The way it went, we put on these waders that can keep us from touching the water. These too man had this shock tool that paralyzes the fish so we can catch them. We caught a lot of different types of fish. We caught Rainbow trout, Small mouth bass, and others types of fish. It was really fun and i hope to do it again another day this summer.

Upstream Macro Identification

Early Tuesday morning, we went upstream of the Woodcock Creek. After doing some water chemistry, we identified the different macros by placing a net in the creek and stirring up the area in order for the macros to end up in the net. Through our pollution index we found out that the stream is very healthy with a score of 47.6.

Water Chemistry (Upstream)

Today we walked in the French Creek upstream from the dam. Our goal was to collect samples of water and observe specimen from that particular area of creek before the water had the opportunity to be passed through the dam. From our searching, all areas of the creek were within extremely healthy parameters!

The creek of French

Today we went to French Creek.  We had a picnic with sandwiches and played an intense game of kickball.  We later went down to the creek itself and talked about fresh water mussels, and we skipped a few rocks.  We learned a little more about the creek itself like why it is called French Creek.  There were several French forts around and in the Ohio river valley , and that is how the name French Creek came to be.

Team Building

                                                                   Team Building

At Creek Camp, we always work together as a team. For instance, some of the games that we played such as Ninja, Red Light Green Light, mad Gab and Whip Around. By being engaged in these activities helped us get to know each other better. There were also times where we held "dorm" type parties and played games such as UNO and it helped us to not only get to know each other, but to have fun while we spent the week with each other. I had a great experience participating in these activities with everyone which is what made my time at Creek Camp memorable.

A few Creek Campers and a camp counselor playing Ninja together for the first time.

\(-.-)/ Owl Prowl \(^.^)/

We had a wonderful time exploring many different parts of Meadville in our search for the many species of owl that live and breed here. Starting our exploration near the center of Meadville looking for the screech owls and ending with our failed attempt to find great horned and barred owls in the cemetery. We caught some amazing sights of the juvenile screech owls after luring them out with the vocalization played on the radio, snapping pics, and having a great time.

Funday Monday Stream Table

At Creek Connections we have fun while we learn. So we had our own controlled stream. And recognized most of the parts of a stream. While we did that we discussed what the stream does to the land, why the trees around a stream are so good for a stream, etc. And then we created our own dam. Which was a lot of fun because we had little men and houses. And then let the dam flow to see what it could do the environment.

Macro Sized Fun!

To examine the biodiversity in the creek, we looked at some macroinvertebrates.  We kicked up the rocks and soil in the creek to catch some critters in our nets. After taking the nets carefully back to the table, we picked the macros out of the net and placed them into trays to determine the species of the invertebrates.

Crazy Chemical Collaborations

On Monday morning we went downstream on Woodcock creek. Through testing the temperature, pH, dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphorus, alkalinity, and turbidity of the water, we were able to determine that the creek was healthy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

GPS Scavenger Hunt

We were introduced to Allegheny College's campus, and our home for the next week, via a geocaching extravaganza. The campers were split into groups and paired up with a counselor, tour guide, and a GPS. Then we were off, following the coordinates to a hidden treasure box... which just had more coordinates to follow and more boxes to find. But never fear, we had a great time learning about the campus and the whole college experience and getting to know our fellow campers. Eventually, we finally got the goodies we were promised as the scavenger hunt came to an end. Everyone received an Allegheny bag filled with useful items and a sugar rush from freeze pops. After a rough rounds of the cup song and lots of chit chat, we headed back to the dorms for even more team bonding. 


After lunch today we got the opportunity to speak with Lony and Spencer from admissions. We were able to ask questions to better understand the process of choosing and being accepted into colleges. One of the main questions was what are colleges looking for in the students they accept. We now know that colleges don't just look at grades and extracurricular activities but another very important aspect is the essay that goes in with your application. This essay is one of few chances that the colleges will have to truly see your personality. So don't use a generic essay that students everywhere will use. The point is to make sure that you stand out. Overall I feel that I have a much better idea of what and how to go about getting into colleges.

The Dam Visit

Today we visited the Woodcock Dam. This dam was built to stop flooding from Woodcock Creek. It was completed in 1973. The gates are controlled by The US Army Corps of Engineers in Pittsburgh. It is about a mile long. We are doing a research project to test the chemical and biological health of Woodcock Creek upstream and downstream of the dam.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Last night, we had an excellent presentation by April Claus all about herps (otherwise known as reptiles and amphibians). She taught us all about our native species and how to identify them in the wild. We also got to see some live specimens! Some of the species she brought included a Rat Snake, two Corn Snakes, a Musk Turtle, a Garter Snake, a Milk Snake, a Spotted Salamander, a Spring Peeper, and an American Toad!

After that fantastic presentation, April Claus led us on a very successful hunt for frogs, toads, and salamanders.  Almost immediately, we found American Toads no bigger than nickels and heard Green Frogs and Bullfrogs.  We also had a great find: a Gray Tree Frog!

walking to a stream, we began a search for salamanders that had everyone scrambling through mud and water for a variety of salamanders, including Northern and Mountain Dusky, Spotted Salamanders, Slimy Salamanders, and a lot more!

We finished our hike with a Spring Peeper and a few more salamanders and exited the woods while listening to a chorus of Gray Tree Frogs.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

PA Fish and Boat Commission Hatchery

Today we traveled to the PA  Fish & Boat Commission fish hatchery in  Linesville.
The hatchery was a big facility with huge tanks of various types of fish, for example there were  walleye,  brown  trout,  bluegill and three species of catfish.  Although  many species can be found in these tanks, only walleye, muskellunge, channel catfish and several other species are bred. In early spring, fish are trapnetted in the 2,500 acre PA Fish & Boat Commission sanctuary that flows into Pymatuning reservoir. The fish are bred by mixing the eggs from female specimens and the sperm from male specimens.  Both fish frye and fingerlings are then stocked after being raised in holding tanks.

The Night Sky

On Wednesday night, the Creek Campers went to Allegheny's planetarium to have Dr. Lombardi give us a presentation on the night sky. He first presented us with a slide show that showed us how to see the constellations and the different galaxies. After the slide show, Dr. Lombardi turned on the over head planetarium to have us try and find the constellations on our own. He also explained that A.M. means ante (before) meridian and that P.M. means post meridian. The meridian is the great circle of the celestial sphere that passes through its poles and the observer's highest point. Dr. Lombardi did a great job, and the planetarium was a very cool experience!


Canoe Trip on Sugar Lake

Today we where supposed to go canoeing on the French River, but due to high water and fast water we went to Sugar Lake. When we got there we waited for fishing boats to go in the water then we got are life jackets, ores, and canoes. Then we where off in the water. we went around the whole lake. Towards the the end of the trip on the lake, we all had a big water fight! After that we got back to the van and started jumping off a dock into the water. We where all tired in the car ride back.