Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dino Tracks!

As much as I have TONS of work to do around here to get ready for our holiday parties I decided what we really needed was to get out of the house. We decided on a field trip to the Ecotarium. 



 They just opened up a new dinosaur exhibit and the boys were very excited to go check it out. We went right down to the bottom floor to check out the dinosaur exhibit. It was pretty neat. They had a huge photograph of the floor at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill that the kids could walk on and compare their feet to the dinosaur prints.  Alec learned that scientists believe that 2- footed dinosaurs ran more like a big bird (think of an Ostrich) than a lizard.  They learned how dinosaur tracks look underwater vs in mud and got to make a bookmark of dinosaur tracks to take home.
   
First the boys measured and compared dinosaur tracks using a chart to see how fast different dinosaurs are thought to have traveled. 
There was a small treadmill so the kids could see if they could run as fast as a dinosaur. 
Making dinosaur bookmarks
    

They learned the term "fulcrum" when trying out this moving dinosaur puzzle



Sitting on the bench causes vibrations and you hear a thunderous roar like dinosaurs are really coming!

Evan compares his hand print to a real dinosaur fossil



Once we were done with the Dinosaur exhibit the kids were happy to walk around and check out all the other exhibits again.  We finished off the bottom floor by looking at all the animals. 

Checking out the fish tank and finding all the sea stars, snails, spiny sea urchins, etc.

Using a microscope-- how scientific!
We stopped for lunch and then the boys checked out the middle floor.  Alec and Ian tried their hand at playing chess, shuffleboard, 9 Men's Morris, etc.  We checked out the train, saw the parrot, and sent lots of coins spiraling down the black hole.  We went up to the first floor and the boys bought stuffed animals (using their own Christmas money).  They then "drove" up Mt. Washington, we made mountains and talked about plate tech tonics.  They got to see what a hurricane feels like in a simulator and played around with fog.

Evan and Ian in the hurricane simulator

The boys favorite part of the day: Alec (Finally!) picked out a bald eagle, Ian choose a raccoon and Evan wanted a baby otter to go with his big otter he already has. 
By that time it was time for the animal encounter of the day.  I know the staff is getting to recognize the boys and the lady just beamed when Alec and Evan once again started asking questions before she even opened a single box. 

Evan told her he knew it was a bird since he saw that same red box she was using to transport the animal at the Birds Of Prey talk they did over the summer.  I was impressed-- I didn't remember that! 

It was a small screech owl and we re-learned a lot of information about owls, hawks and other birds of prey.  Owls have softer and fluffier wings so they can fly silently at night.  Hawks have smooth feathers with sharp edges to help them fly fast.  We learned many owl calls and sounds.  We talked about the diet of owls and they got a real close look at the face and features of the female screech owl as she came around and let them inspect the animal close up.  



After the demonstration we finished up the inside of the building and headed outdoors to see the Barn owl, vultures, pheasants, great horned owl and Socks the fox. It was cold and windy but the boys were happy to be out and running around. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. If I had thought to pack my own winter coat and mittens they would've played on the playground for quite some time. But I got cold so we walked up to the building and looked at the Red tailed hawk, the porcupine and the ferrets. 




We walked through the building and the boys got to see what it feels like to live inside a terrarium.  They also tried rock hopping to avoid stepping on the flower.  I swear no matter how many times we come we see something just a bit different.  We stopped to see the bald eagles on our way to visit the ferrets and then we headed home.  I think we saw, read, and figured out all we could for one day. 

Here's Alec showing his stuffed bald eagle the real bald eagles. 

I asked the boys on the ride home to think of a few things they learned today.  
  • The boys immediately remembered that during the bird show talk we heard that smaller birds like crows will gang up on larger birds of prey like hawks and fly at them cawing away.  It's called mobbing and we were told sometimes it's a great way to find hawks and great horned owls in our area.  We'll have to keep an ear out for mobbing and see if we can find where the noise is oriented and then look there for a bird of pray.  
  • The boys also told me they learned that dinosaurs moved more like birds than lizards.  
  • Ian, who did not attend the bird of prey show with his brothers, learned that females are larger than males when it comes to all birds of prey.  
  • Alec was watching the woman handle the bird of prey and was practicing on his stuffed bird with his glove as we drove home.  
  • He was surprised to hear that birds of prey will scavenge in the winter and not always catch their own live food.  He's been reading a lot of  books about scavengers and now he's realizing that sometimes animals can't be neatly divided into scavengers and not scavengers.  
It was a great day filled with tons of learning and I know we'll be going back again.  Hopefully, we'll get to sneak in a planetarium show next time too!


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