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Missed Class Schedule, Updates, and Rocks,

Gems and Minerals Block 2 Pre-Class


Thank you for your patience during furlough. This will be a bit longer post than usual so please bear with me. We need to address the missed classes, some changes, and pre-class materials for Block 2: Rocks, Gems, and Minerals class.

For those that missed the final class in the Ecosystems on the Edge Block of classes

We will be offering two make-up dates for the class, on Thursday, October 31st and Friday, November 1st at the normal times (9-10 am for 5-7 yr. olds on both dates, 10:30am-Noon both dates, and 1:30-3 pm on Thursday only).

You may sign up online at: www.SignUpGenius.com/go/10C0D4DACAB2CA7FA7-make. If you have questions contact me McDonaldK@si.edu.

If you cannot make either of these dates please e-mail me. We are still receiving guidance about how refunds or credits will be issued. If you wish you may donate the program cost to SERC Education, otherwise I will update you when I receive more information. Please let me know your choice when you e-mail.

Film Class Make Up:

For those in the film class we will meet at our next regularly scheduled date/time. However I will be adding one additional date, January 16th to our schedule, and we will push everything back one date.

NOTE: Because of feedback from students and parents I will be offering, in the next class, to allow students to break up into smaller groups of 2 students. Students may remain in their larger groups, or if distance and time dictates break up into smaller units. However, this may mean more work for each student. Please consider this carefully with your students before arriving in class. We will discuss this as a class and decide on final groupings. If students do break into smaller groups they may keep their original topic, or re-submit a pre-production proposal. This must be approved by me before continuing!

Homework for next class:

HOMEWORK FOR OCTOBER 24TH: Turn in final Pitch for documentary with the following for your pitch:

  • Topic
  • Goal of documentary
  • Summary paragraph
  • 3 sections of arc
  • Highlight for story boarding and have a rough draft of your story board ready to turn in.

You are going to have to communicate with your film crew to accomplish this homework. Please be sure to have some means to communicate with them, either digital, phone, or in person meeting lined up.

READ: Chapter 7 in “Shut up and Shoot” about interviewing.

Student Citizen Science Data/Math Opportunity with Bluebird Population Data:

I have an opportunity for one or two students that are proficient in Excel, to do some mathematics and modeling using real life data. We’ve collected bluebird nesting data for the last 6 years (2008-present). We would like to graph this data and do some visualization of population trends. If your student is working in Excel or might be interested in adding this to their curriculum please let me know. It can be done at home. Probably would be best suited for ages 13+. Please e-mail me with question (McDonaldK@si.edu).

Rocks, Gems, and Minerals Block: Class 1 (Rocks) Pre-Class Materials

For those of you new to the SERC Home school experience, below are materials to help prepare you for our classes. If you are registered for the Rocks, Gems, and Minerals block of classes please have your student complete the following vocabulary and visit the following websites before class on 10/24.

Please be sure to join the SERC Home School blog http://www.serc.si.edu  to receive regular updates about classes, including pre-class materials and weather updates.




  • Rock cycle
  • Volcano
  • Magma
  • Plate tectonics
  • Igneous rock
  • Metamorphic rock
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Erosion
  • Weathering


All Ages:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Xv1DoqkARQ Watch this video (23:05) on Rocks by Bill Nye (my favorite!). You may wish to try the Epsom salt exercise in the video at home. It takes about 24 hours to set.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg_jKJFbA2A&list=PLDEQMJ4WTcWohAvf48MWaGaIjOoK8FQLE here’s a quick video (8:36) about the three different types of rock. You should watch this before trying the rock hound quiz.

http://www.fi.edu/fellows/fellow1/oct98/create/index.html explore the three links to discover how the three types of rocks are formed.

http://www.fi.edu/fellows/fellow1/oct98/expert/index.html study the rocks (in red) and then take the “Rock Hound Quiz” at the bottom of the page to see if you can tell which is igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv4M4wror58 a catchy rock cycle song to Lady Gaga’s “Made this Way”

Ages 5-7

If you wish to supplement or replace the Bill Nye episode you may wish to watch Part 1 and 2 of the Magic School Bus on Rocks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqvsYxVFNlE

http://www.magicalchildhood.com/activities/rockcycle_ns.htm Here is a coloring page that might be helpful for younger students.

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American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF)

at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Friday, September 20th, 7-9:30 pm


Schmidt Center (a second showing will be at McDaniel College Hill Hall Room 108 on September 27th)

Featured Films Will Be:

Cape Spin! An American Power Struggle, (both locations), last year’s runner up for both the ACFF Green Fire Award and Audience Choice Award. This film is the surreal, fascinating, tragicomic tale of the battle over one of America’s largest clean energy project, 130 wind turbines in fabled Nantucket Sound. Cape Spin! tells the incredible tale of how America’s first proposed offshore wind farm triggered a schism in this idyllic coastal region, pitting neighbor against neighbor and environmentalist against environmentalist. (86 minutes) Menhaden: The Most Important Fish in the Bay, (SERC only), a runner-up for Best Student Film, explores the far-reaching impact of menhaden through the eyes of the men who love this stinky, oily fish for what it contributes to their livelihood, to their heritage, and to the health of Chesapeake Bay. (27 minutes) The Last Iceman of Chimborazo, (McDaniel only), by Gabriela Lozada Pozo, last year’s winner of the ACFF Best Student Film Award. This short documentary is a portrait of Baltazar Ushca, a 68-year-old Kichua Indian who lives in a small Ecuadorian village next to the volcano Chimborazo. Deep in the volcano is hidden an ingredient that people attribute healing and sacred powers. Baltazar is the last man on earth who knows how to find it. (12 minutes) Ecosystems on the Edge, (SERC only), an exploration of the coastal zone narrated by SERC ecologists. 70 percent of the world’s people live on the coasts. Even more rely on them for food and protection. But our shorelines are threatened—by pollution, invasive species and climate change. Now they are hanging on the edge of either disaster, or recovery. This is the first of a 15-part video series available online (7 minutes)

About ACFF

The American Conservation Film Festival is an annual event held in Shepherdstown, WV, a vibrant arts community 70 miles west of Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. ACFF features films from a diverse group of conservation filmmakers from around the world. This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization addresses conservation through the lens of film, providing a platform for education and dialogue about more sustainable ways to live.  By presenting outstanding conservation films ACFF programming promotes solutions to pressing conservation issues, respect for world’s natural and cultural heritage and passion for conserving our resources.  Since 2003, the Festival has screened some 300 films to 29,000 audience members, and has inspired countless individuals and organizations to help make the transformation toward better ways to live, work, and play. More information can be found at www.conservationfilm.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates. CAN YOU HELP WITH A DONATION OF CLASSROOM SUPPLIES? As a public education center SERC runs through some serious school supplies. Can you help with a donation? Here are a few things we need:

  • No 2. Pencils
  • Ink Pens
  • Erasers
  • Permanent Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Rulers
  • Meter Sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Duct tape
  • Goo Gone (orange)
  • Ink Pads (all colors)
  • Laminating pouches (8 1/2 x 11)
  • Bird Seed and Suet Cakes
  • Kid’s Puzzles, games, dinosaurs, puppets etc. for our children’s play area
  • Children’s sweat pants, adjustable pants, universal shirts (for kids that go into the water or have accidents)

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To register for the SERC home school Fall/Winter 2013-14 classes please click the following link:

http://si.doubleknot.com/event/space-available/serc-home-school-classes-fall-winter-2013-14/25937 m

NOTE: WHEN REGISTERING, USE THE DAYS AND TIMES LISTED IN THE TITLE OF EACH CLASS, NOT THE COLUMN THAT SAYS “SCHEDULE” (see below). The days listed in the final registration column of “schedule” are a range of days due to how I had to enter the data online. IGNORE this if it says Wednesday-Sunday (the class listed will be the day listed in the title). Times in the time column are correct.

Class RegistrationClick on each green plus sign to add a class.

PARENTS: If you are registering for the parent’s class you must register yourself as a “participant” so that you can sign up for the class.

participant registraiton

If you have difficulty registering please be patient. Because of the high volume of those registering the software may be slow.

If you have immediate concerns call (443) 482.2388 or e-mail McDonaldK@si.edu.

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I wanted to provide everyone from the Wildlife Biology, Block 1, notes from the first class. Parents, please go over these and review them with your students. You can find them here: Wildlife Biology Class 1 Worksheet (teacher version). Many students in the first class weren’t able to take notes, so it would help to have these in their notebooks. PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING NOTEBOOKS AND PENCILS TO EACH CLASS!

In Class we also sorted different types of mammals into basic orders. Please be sure that students are familiar with names of the following orders:

  • Flying Mammals (Order Chiroptera): Bats
  • Hare-Shaped Mammals (Order Lagamorpha): Rabbits and Hares
  • Insect-Eating Mammals (Order Insectivora): Shrews and Moles
  • Even-Toed Hoofed Mammals (Order Artiodactyla): Deer and Wild Pigs
  • Flesh Eating Mammals (Order Carnivora): Bears, foxes, raccoons, weasels, etc.
  • Pouched Mammals (Order Marsupialia): Opossums
  • Gnawing Mammals (Order Rodentia): All rodents, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, etc.

Homework for June 13th or 14th Wildlife Biology Block 1 Class 2:

Both: http://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/pepperedmoth.html peppered moth simulation information and game, also read chapters 5 and 10 in the Van book. Younger students answer questions 1 and 2 in both chapters and complete the biome coloring worksheet http://biologycorner.com/worksheets/biome_map.html.

Older kids: complete the above and the deer worksheet Second Deer graphic activity Deer Predation and Starvation Activity


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Color and Light: 5 to 7 year Olds

Here are the preclass materials for the Color and Light class next week.


Visible Light

Ultra Violet Light

Infrared Light









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Kids Unplugged: SERC Field Science (and Fun) Course, Ages 7-9 yrs. 

July 29th-August 2nd (9 am-4 pm)

Children ages 7-9 years of age are encouraged to unplug from technology and TV for this week-long outdoor exploration of science and nature at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. We’ll explore in the woods, marshes, mud, creeks, ponds, forests, and fields of the SERC for science, learning, and fun. We’ll start each day with a question or theme, from the microscopic world to the macroscopic forest. Activities will include hiking, mucking about in ponds, using microscopes, making tree forts, playing games, creating nature crafts, and using the scientific method to solve problems. We’ll also meet SERC scientists and learn about their research in hands-on activities ranging from near-shore sampling with nets to identification of invertebrates.

Day 1: Water and Watersheds

Day 2: The Microscopic World

Day 3: Into the Forest, SERC Science in the Woods!

Day 4: Animals and Gross Things

Day 5: Fish and Invertebrates Olympics

Classes are limited to 12 students (minimum 6 required for the course). Cost is $375 for the entire week, from 9 am-4 pm, with before and after care available. To register contact Jane Holly at Hollyj@si.edu.


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If you are registered for the Wildlife Biology Block 1 classes you should have received this information as an e-mail, but just in case I’m posting it here:

As you know the classes are quickly approaching, starting June 6th.  Please click here for the Student Worksheet for Wildlife Biology Class 1This worksheet must be done BEFORE coming to class. For the older kids this means not starting the night before! The reading is a bit long and will require some thought to answer the questions.

FOR PARENTS OF THE 13-16 YR. OLD KIDS: I have a packet of reading materials that they need to read before the first class (sorry, can’t send it to you via e-mail, it’s too large). You may pick this up in the Reed Education Center during operating hours (not on the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, SERC is closed) from 9 am-4:30 pm Monday-Saturday. I will place a stack under the large deer in the main hall.


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