Summer Camp Volunteering – week 2

The theme for last week’s Howard Count Conservancy’s summer camps was ‘Fantastic Beasts.’ I spent a morning at Mt. Pleasant and the next morning at Belmont. At Mt. Pleasant there were three groups of campers….45 minutes for each. I used the dinosaur and mammal track rock found at NASA Goddard (saw it back when I was in the HOLLIE program) to initiate the conversation about extinct animals and fossils. There were some fossil shells from Calvert Cliffs and some of the campers had been there to explore themselves. I had on my ammonite shaped earrings too.

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Then for some action: Two pans of water, a measuring tape and white board. A person put one foot into each pan (shoes on) and then stepped out and walked normally. The measurement team (usually two campers) measured heal print to heal print to determine the walking stride length. We measured the walking stride of the tallest and shortest in each group (and then everyone else because everyone wanted to know their stride length…or game it and take extra-long steps!). In the oldest group of campers, we measured the running stride (heel first and on toes). It was a great activity to further explore what information can be gleaned from tracks.

We transitioned into evidence of animals living today with some whelk shells and egg cases found on a beach. Some campers were surprised that the whelks were animals that still live in the ocean along the east coast of the US.

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One of the junior counselors had participated in a dinosaur dig in Montana…and shared some pictures for her adventure with the campers.

It was a busy 45 minutes!

At Belmont, there were two groups of campers making Zentangle® tiles. I introduced the session using the NASA Goddard rock, the welk shells and my ammonite earrings….and then showed them patterns for beasts. The first group (younger) made octopus/jelly fish and tracks. The second group experimented with an ammonite type pattern, tracks and shells. The theropod tracks were the most popular. Many made some big therapod tracks and then some small ones (moms with babies). A variation from one camper: a therapod track….then a blank area where the therapod flew….then more tracks. One camper made mammal tracks. Both groups enjoyed adding colors after they made their patterns with the black Sharpie ultrafine pens.


The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 4, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Exploring the Parks: White Sands National Monument – Another place I want to return to and spend a bit more time. I’ve been once when we were on the way from Dallas to Tucson. I posted about it back in 2013. We stayed long enough to have a picnic, walk along the boardwalk trail, and photograph cliff swallows at the visitor center.

New Analysis of Depression-Era Fossil Hunt Shows Texas Coast Was Once a 'Serengeti' | Smart News | Smithsonian – Research on collections made by the Works Progress Administration and mostly just stored since the 1940s….Other states than Texas probably have research projects on these collections as well.

IYPT 2019 Elements 020: Calcium: Teeth, bones and cheese | Compound Interest – Another article in the International Year of the Periodic Table series. Did you know that the human body contains about 1 kilogram of calcium?

Image of the Day: High Contrast | The Scientist Magazine® - The milkweed bug! The milkweed is just beginning to come up so I haven’t seen any of these bugs yet this year…but they’ll come out soon enough. I’ll try to remember some of this article next time I see the bug with a group of field trip hikers!

12 Famous Flower Paintings, from Monet to Mondrian – A little eye candy. Notice that there are insects with the flowers in the Ambrosius Bosschaert painting.

An invasive, thorny tree is taking over Africa – can it be stopped? – It’s not just the US that has problems with invasive plants and animals brought from elsewhere in the world. The Mesquite tree that is problematic in Africa came from South America.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the week: April and Waterbirds – Catching up a little on the series…two this week and there are still some left for the next gleanings collection.

‘Exquisitely Preserved’ Skin Impressions Found in Dinosaur Footprints | Smart News | Smithsonian – The prints are from a small theropod. Not only do they show the impression left by skin…they also indicate the dinosaur was in Korea earlier than previously thought (10-20 million years earlier).

Electric Cars Could Be as Affordable as Conventional Vehicles in Just Three Years - Yale E360 – EV technologies are developing rapidly. In 2015, batteries made up 57% of the EV total cost; today it’s down to 33% and by 2025 the projection is 2025. I know that I have enjoyed my plug-in-hybrid and that my next car will probably be an EV.

Clean Tech Jobs Lead Employment Statistics in Many US States | CleanTechnica – The map is worth the look. Solar panel installer or wind turbine service technician is the fastest growing type of job in 11 states!

3 Free eBooks – August 2018

So many great books available all the time…and free. Reading used to be a much more expensive activity!

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Brongniart, Adolphe. Histoire des végétaux fossiles, ou, Recherches botaniques et géologiques sur les végétaux renfermés dans les diverses couches du globe. A Paris et a Amsterdam: Chez G. Dufour et Ed. d’Ocagne. 1828. Available from Internet Archive here. This book includes many illustrations of plant fossils – imprints on rocks. It’s written in French – but the illustrations are the reason it’s worth a look. It was probably one of the first paleobotany books ever written. The author produced the book in his late 20s…must have had access to a sizable collection.

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Karageorghis, Vassos. Ancient Art from Cyprus - The Cesnola Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2000. Available from Internet Archive here. This is a more recent book (I am glad that many copyright holders that have out-of-print books are making them available this way). The color illustrations are wonderful. I particularly like utilitarian objects.

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Aruz, Joan and Wallenfels, Ronald (editors). Art of the first cities: the third millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 2003. Available from Internet Archive here. Another relatively recent book. Would you have guessed the necklace was from the 3rd millennium BC?

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 2, 2017

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Free Technology for Teachers: Resources to Learn About Outer Space – Good resources – for more than teaches!

When They Said They Wanted to Rethink Agriculture, They Meant It – Cool Green Science – Developing ways to feed more people with less water and without expanding the area we already use for agriculture….crop redistribution to maximize food production with rainfall rather than irrigation may be part of the solution.

Image of the Day: The Last Sloth | The Scientist Magazine® - Taking a closer look at the Caribbean Islands where then end of the ice age and the arrival of humans were 1,000s of years apart. There were two waves of extinction induced by human arrival: the first about 5,000 years ago when humans first arrived (ground sloth extinction) and the second around 1492 when Columbus arrived (smaller animals extinction).

Ah-Choo! 11 Fun Facts About Sneezing | Berkeley Wellness – No – your heart does not stop!

Large decrease in age-related macular degeneration in baby boomers compared to previous generations -- ScienceDaily – Positive news…but it was a small study and the participants were mostly non-Hispanic white individuals…and there is no information about why the decrease happened. Hope it holds for my family. My grandmother was blind by the time she died in her 90s…from macular degeneration.

New Science Shows Nature’s Potential to Fight Climate Change – Cool Green Science – Finding natural solutions to fight climate change. Reforestation has the highest potential!

Midwifery care at hospitals is associated with fewer medical interventions -- ScienceDaily – enhancing perinatal car and lowering costs for low-risk pregnancies…what’s not to like!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #115 and #116 – Birds and more birds!

Making it easier to recycle plastics: Emerging technologies could greatly reduce plastic waste -- ScienceDaily – Only 9% of plastics are recycled in the US…not good.

How did Ammonite fossils form? – The chemistry of ammonite fossil formation

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 23, 2017

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Celebrate Cassini’s Historic Voyage in Eight Incredible Images | Smart News | Smithsonian – Cassini has crashed into Saturn’s atmosphere (intentionally) and there have been quite a few retrospective articles about its long mission. I liked this one…so am including in the gleanings for this week.

Eighteenth century nautical charts reveal coral loss -- ScienceDaily – The study compared the coral documented in the Florida Keys in nautical charts from the 1770s to satellite data. More than half the coral reef has disappeared completely. Nearer to land, the loss is closer to 90%.

What We Still Don’t Know about the Health Benefits of Nature – THE DIRT – I noticed this article first because the picture under the heading is of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas (I visited there several years ago and enjoyed it) but thin the article was worth looking at too. It defines some priorities for research to understand the health benefits of nature better although most people already agree that is it beneficial…but how exactly does it happen. Some doctors are already prescribing time in the park!

North American Ash on Brink of Extinction | The Scientist Magazine® - In Maryland many of the Ash Trees are already dead or dying. Very sad.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #105 – National Geographic Society – There’s an Eastern Bluebird toward the middle of this collection….perched a little differently than I usually see them.

A Monumental Road Trip in Northern Arizona - National Parks Traveler – I’ve been to most of these places…..and enjoyed them all.

BBC - Future - How we’re creating ‘super plants’ to help humanity – The article highlights 4 ideas: cross-breeding super plants, using plants as medicine, bananas on steroids, and fire-fighting plants.

Learn How to Create Zentangle Art, a Meditative Form of Drawing – This article is about doing Zentangles (drawing patterns) rather than buying an adult coloring book. I started doing doodles and graduated to Zentangles and never was tempted by the ‘coloring book’ craze.

Ruins of a Roman City Found Off the Coast of Tunisia | Smart News | Smithsonian – The area of ancient Neapolis is off the coast of Tunisia. It was destroyed by a tsunami in 365 AD.

Why are fossilized hairs so rare? -- ScienceDaily – Evidently, fossilized hair is 5 times rarer than feathers.  Chemistry? Environmental conditions? The research includes statistical analysis of where hair and feathers have been found in the fossil record and make some predictions about where and how to look for them going forward.