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Loons on Squam Lake

Resources to Keep You Connected to Nature

Enjoy nature at home with these online learning experiences brought to you by the Science Center’s Naturalists. These will be updated regularly and include:


New Hampshire Neature

Episode 1: Signs of Spring

Episode 2: Mud Madness

Episode 3: Silence

Episode 4: Troubles with Voles

Episode 5: Salamanders and Wood Frogs

Episode 6: The Great Spring Flower Search

Nature Journal Pages

Get your students and children outside by engaging them in nature journaling. These journal pages include directions so that parents can easily do the activities with younger children and older children can do them on their own. The only materials needed are the journal page and something to write with. You can complete one journal page or complete them all and compile them into your own nature journal.

Mystery Photo Series

We post a mystery photo each Tuesday and ask you to tell us what you think the picture shows. On Wednesdays we tell you what the picture is and a little bit about that animal.

Week of May 5

Mystery Photo May 5

Mystery Photo answer:The fur pictured belongs to one of the most unique New Hampshire animals: the opossum. The opossum has a pouch where babies are fed and develop, making it North Americas only marsupial. They will eat a great variety of fruits, vegetables, carrion, and insects using their mouth full of fifty teeth, which is more than any other North American mammal. They are also great climbers thanks to their opposable thumbs and furless prehensile tail. Because of all these fascinating adaptations, opossums have survived and roamed since the dinosaurs!

Week of April 28

Mystery Photo April 28

Mystery Photo answer:The photos show a feather from the wing of a Turkey Vulture! An essential part of natures’ clean-up crew, Turkey Vultures eat almost exclusively carrion (already dead things.) To find this carrion, Turkey Vultures will soar through the air with their large wings and, unlike most other birds, use their strong sense of smell to find carrion. Their black feathers are great at absorbing UV rays from the sun to help thermoregulate their bodies. Keep an eye out for Turkey Vultures perched on trees or telephone poles with their wings spread out catching some rays!

Week of April 21

Mystery Photo April 21

Mystery Photo answer:The photo shows a Broad-winged Hawk. These hawks are one of New Hampshire's most adept migratory birds. They leave for their 4,400 mile journey to South America in September, flying nearly 70 miles per day for 2 months, returning in late April. To save energy, they take advantage of natural "elevators" called thermals, or large columns of warm air. Keep an eye out this week for large groups of birds flying in circles. It is likely a kettle (or group) of Broad-wings riding these thermals on their way back from South America!

Week of April 14

Mystery Photo April 14

Mystery Photo answer: The photo shows the top (carapace) and bottom (plastron) of a wood turtle shell. The shell almost looks like it was carved of wood. Now that spring is here, you can spot wood turtles basking on logs absorbing heat from the sun. They spend their winter in the mud and muck of shallow streams, where the water does not freeze. In the spring and summer, they will feed on a variety of plants, and small invertebrates.

Week of April 7

Mystery Photo April 7

Mystery Photo answer: The photo shows the pelt of a woodchuck. Now is the perfect time of year to spot woodchucks, also called groundhogs or whistle pigs! In spring these rodents come out of their elaborate burrows to find food and a mate after three or four long months of hibernation. During hibernation woodchucks’ hearts will beat 15 times per minute, and they will only breathe once every 5-6 minutes.

Week of March 30

Mystery Photo March 30
Mystery Photo March 30

Mystery Photo answer: The photo show the feathers on the wing of a Great Horned Owl. The fringes on the feather’s edge are key identifiers. These fringes make those feathers “fluted” which allow air to pass by the wing making extremely quiet flight. All owls have quiet flight, which enables them to be great nighttime hunters. The Great Horned Owl sets itself apart with its strength. An adult Great Horned Owl has a grip strength on average ten times as strong as a person!

50 Nature Activities for Kids

These activities come from the Science Center's book 50 Nature Activities for Kids by Dave Erler. See details activities and view the full book using the button below.

Life Under Logs (see page 62)

Seeing wildlife up close is always an exciting experience. Too often though, with children in tow, the chance of catching more than a fleeting glimpse of larger wildlife is rare. One almost certain place to find smaller critters is under fallen logs. A host of invertebrates like millipedes, centipedes, sow bugs, spiders, beetles, and small vertebrates like red-backed salamanders or red efts find shelter under fallen branches and tree trunks. A small glass container and a hand lens can enhance the experience. It's fun to capture a few residents and observe them up close for a few minutes.

There are a couple of guidelines to looking under logs.

  • 1 Always try to place the log back the way you found it, even it you didn't find anyone home when you looked.
  • 2 After a few minutes of observing, release the captured critters where you found them. Release them next to the log rather than lifting the log and then inadvertently crushig the critters when you set the log back in place.

I never tire of looking under logs. The anticipation is a bit like opening a present to see what's inside.

Bark Rubbings (see page 8)

Bark Rubbings are a fun way to learn and record how various types of trees have different textures and patterns. All you need is plain paper and unwrapped crayons. Hold the paper against a tree. Use the long, flat side of the crayon to rub against the paper. You can make your finished product into a colorful art display or identify and label the bark rubbings to make your own guide to tree bark. Making bark rubbings is a great activity for any season of the year.

Sucking in a Bird (see page 100)

You are out on a walk. Out of the corner of your eye you spot a little bird flitting around in a thicket of shrubs. You can't see it but are curious to know what it is. Your options:

  • 1 Wait patiently hoping that it might pop out.
  • 2 Go crashing into the shrubs on the slight chance you may flush it out.
  • 3 Forget about it and continue your walk.
  • 4 Suck it out.

What do I mean by sucking it out?

It means to put your lips to the back of your hand and make a sucking sound. If you remain still and repeat the sucking sound every few seconds it might arouse the curiosity of the bird, drawing it in so you can get a good look. A similar technique is to make a shushing sound with your mouth and lips. The premise is the sounds resemble an animal in distress and the bird responds by trying to see what is the cause.

A couple of things you might want to note. It doesn't always work if the bird has been "sucked in" before by a number of birders. It's also not a good idea to try the sucking technique if the back of your hand is covered with mosquito repellent as you may find yourself doing a lot of grimacing and wiping your lips and tongue off in total disgust.

Bird Nesting Materials (see page 18)

Spring is the season of renewal. Birds sing to attract a mate and defend the territory around their nest. The nest that a bird makes protects, cushions, insulates, and holds the eggs together during incubation. A fun experiment you can try is to provide nesting materials to see what the birds in your yard might use to construct their nests.

Record the types of materials you put out and observe what the birds in your yard choose. The best time to conduct this experiment is mid-April through May.

Materials

  • mesh produce bag, suet cage, or a square of hardware cloth to hold materials
  • dead grass, feathers, human or animal hair
  • moss
  • dried weeds
  • twigs
  • strips of bark
  • roots
  • cotton fluff

Yarn, thread, and string are NOT recommended as the birds may get tangled in them.

Directions:

Weave the materials through the mesh of your holder. Attach the holder to a shrub, tree branch, or tree trunk where you can easily observe it.

Activities from Blue Heron School

"Oobleck"

Color Sorting

Bird Beaks

Animal Classes

Mother's Day Craft

If you have something specific you would like to learn about please let us know. Feel free to connect with us on our social channels or email us at

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