Would you believe us if we told you that nature has superpowers? At SPREE’s Spring Break Camp, we learned all about the super senses of many Colorado animals- some animals in our state have superior sight, hearing or touch than us humans. This week we explored them all!
On Monday, the sense we focused on was smell. We kicked off the day with some name games to learn our fellow campers. After designing our name tags, and learning each other’s names, we finished out the morning by making our own scratch and sniff stickers to experience some smells like our super smelling animal friends. The second activity of the day was critter crawl. We learned that crawdads dedicate 40% of their brain to their sense of smell. Interesting because crawdads are scavengers and so are hoping to smell rotting flesh like dead fish at the bottom of our River. Though their eating habits are weird, we love crawdads and went out on our critter crawl to catch a few!
Tuesday’s super sense was vision or super sight. It was a pretty cold day, it was even snowing. So why not learn about an animal that can see heat? We started the day by learning about snakes. What’s special about snakes’ sense of sight? They can “see” heat because of an organ called the pit organ. This organ senses heat for snakes, which is especially useful for predatory snakes trying to seek out a tasty meal. We created secret messages in honor of snakes using invisible ink that is only revealed by heat!
For critter crawl, we learned about fish navigation. Some fish, like trout, have a magnetite in their cells (a magnetic rock). This magnetite, which is magnetic, helps fish align themselves directionally north, and helps them to find their way when swimming through waterways. At the river, we used gold pans to collect magnetite from the bottom of the river and add to SPREE’s museum collection.
Thursday was field day! Field day is a fun day at SPREE camp because we spend most of the day outside playing games. We were investigating super strength and super stamina through two Colorado animals- the bison and dung beetle. Both of these animals, though very different in size, both demonstrate superior strength and stamina over other Colorado animals. To challenge campers, we played two field day relay games. The first, campers had to use a stick to roll “dung” (hula-hoop) across a field. In the other, campers transformed into bison and had to push a ball across a field with their bison “humps” to simulate bison pushing snow when looking for food deep in winter.
We wrapped up the week with critter crawl. Did you know that there is a macroinvertebrate that can walk on water?! Water striders are specially adapted to be able to walk on the surface of water without breaking water tension! We made some wire water striders before heading down to the river to look for some ourselves. Although it is technically spring, it seems still a little too chilly for water striders to be out. We will keep our eyes out for them as our river warms up!
We had such a great time with our campers this week for Spring Break Camp. We can’t wait until the next time we get to see everyone again down at the South Platte River!