Monday was focused on super smellers. One of the most skilled sniffers we have in our state is the Black Bear. Black Bears can smell 700x better than humans! We challenged our own senses of smell when we played a game testing campers’ ability to find food as well as a bear can. “Food” items were hidden around our outside space, and campers had to find it and collect it to see if they found enough food to survive as a bear. Did you know that black bears eat 11-18lb of food… EVERY DAY!
Down at the River, we learned about the super smelling Crawdad. Crawdads rely on their sense of smell to find carrion- or dead animals- that sink to our Rivers’ bottoms. It is important to be able to smell their food, as seeing their food among the dark water can be tricky!
On Tuesday, we learned about bees and rainbow trout- two animals that possess super senses of sight! Bees, like many insects and spiders, have compound eyes. These eyes allow bees to see in different ways than humans do, and they are especially better at seeing fast movements compared to humans. Bees also can see UV light, We made some awesome compound masks to test our ability to use compound eyes, before heading outside for a game where campers needed to find flowers using glow sticks and UV light!
At the River, we learned about how fish like rainbow trout return to their birth waters year after year to spawn. Scientists have learned that rainbow trout have tiny amounts of magnetite in their cells, which help them navigate, or “see” the path back to their Rivers of birth.
Wednesday was all about super listeners- or animals that have super senses of hearing. We began our day brainstorming the many animals of Denver and Colorado that are great listeners. One charismatic critter we thought of was the fox. Foxes have a superior sense of hearing, and can even hunt small rodents underground through over a foot of snow! We thought it would be fun if we could listen better, like a fox, so we constructed some fox ears to boost our own hearing. To test the boost, we played a game outside where campers needed to listen- with their eyes closed- for the sounds of clapping. Teachers thought this would be a big challenge- but it was nothing to our super observant campers!
Before heading down to the River, campers learned a bit about eardrums, and did an experiment with a model eardrum and rice to learn about sound waves. We related sound waves and water, and learned that sound travels slower through water which is why it is hard for humans to hear underwater. Luckily, our heads were above water for critter crawl, so we were all able to hear about the cool critters we were catching!
On Thursdays, campers and teachers got their flex on as we learned about the super strength of Colorado animals. The first activity compared the super strength of two very different sized critters- the dung beetle and the bison. Both animals possess super strength in their own right… it’s all about how strong they are compared to their size! Campers first transformed into bison, and tested their super strength by pushing sleeping bags through our fields with just a stick. This mimics the way that bison plow through deep snow with ease to uncover food in the winter months.
After becoming big bison, campers then went small! We learned about dung beetles, who are small but mighty, with the ability to lift 1,100x their body weight! That would be like an adult lifting 25 tractor trailer trucks! As dung beetles, campers were challenged to roll “dung” (hula-hoops) across a field with just a stick. We learned we maybe don’t have the same strength as a bison or dung beetle, but they sure do have a lot of fun!
Friday is always a fun day at camp. The super sense we learned about was super touch. We focused on water striders, which is an animal that can walk on water! We created some water striders from wire, and tested their ability to walk on water. Water striders have this amazing ability because they are able to evenly distribute their weight using their long legs onto the surface of water to suspend them on top.
At the River, we learned about caddisflies, who have the ability to spin webs and cases that keep them stuck to rocks at the River’s bottom. We constructed some caddisflies of our own, and made cases for them using clay and rocks! We then got to test our water striders and look for both them and caddisflies during critter crawl.
While both teachers and campers had to make adjustments this summer for camp, it was a joy for all to spend time together and learn together. We look forward to more events and camps, and we will see you again by the River soon!