Virtual Summer Camp

Welcome to Our Virtual Summer Camp !

 

At the start of the summer of 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were approached by the WAMY Community Action Center to build a virtual summer camp for 3rd to 5th graders in northwest North Carolina.

This was a challenging endeavor, not only did we have very little time to plan and build each exercise, but we also had to design activities for children who did not have access to the Internet. From the streams of the North Carolina Mountains to the jungles of Belize, we built exercises the allowed students to explore their backyard, but also see some of the wonders of the world. It was a lot of work. However, the rewards were immense, we learned a lot, and had a great time building the resources you see below.

We are leaving all of the resources here on the site as free resources for science education. We have already begun work on what the next-generation summer camp will look like in case we need to repeat this next year. If your school system is interested in working with us, please contact us for more information!

Click here to learn more about why we built the virtual summer camp.

 


Welcome to the Virtual Summer Camp!

We decided to build a virtual summer camp and take you on an EdVenture! So what can you expect to see? First, We chose a beautiful stream ecosystem on the property of Cove Creek School in Vilas NC as our setting. There, we set up both trail cameras and bird cameras to capture the local wildlife. Each week we will have a series of science and technology activities to get you into your backyard to explore the wonders of nature!

We will be sharing pictures and videos with you through this site and our social media pages. Coming in a few weeks will be a special virtual field trip to the jungles and coral reefs of Belize!

We have designed these materials for the 3rd to 5th grade level, but we really think that all ages will enjoy the chance to get outside and explore nature using these resources!

Our goal is to bring the beauty and nature of the North Carolina mountains to students who can not attend summer camp this summer. We are providing these resources for free, but if you like what you see, consider donating to the WAMY Community Action Center to help support our partner’s mission.

All of the outdoor and backyard activities should be done under the supervision of an adult.

Take a Virtual Tour of Our Summer Camp in the Mountains of North Carolina!

Weekly Activities:

Week 1: Welcome and BioBlitz:  VirtualSummerCamp_Week1

Week 2: Backyard Birding:VirtualSummerCamp_Week2

Week 3: Backyard Science & The Scientific Method:VirtualSummerCamp_Week3

Week 4: Stream Ecology: VirtualSummerCamp_Week4

Week 5: Backyard Wildlife: VirtualSummerCamp_Week5

Week 6: The Jungles of Belize:VirtualSummerCamp_Week6

Week 7: Technology Week- Solar Energy: VirtualSummerCamp_Week7

Have a wonderful summer – and let’s start our EdVenture!


Week 1: BioBlitz!

What is a BioBlitz?

Biologists use the term bioblitz to refer to a survey of everything that is living in a given study area. For us this summer, that is going to be our backyards!

For our bioblitz, we are going to guide you through activities where you look specifically for insects, or creatures under rocks, of different types of flower or fungi.

What you can do for now is to go into your backyard, sit quietly for a few moments, and notice what you can already see. What types of trees, birds, and bugs are in your backyard? You don’t have to know their names, just write down what you see in, or better yet, draw a picture. Some of the most famous biologists in history were also great artists!

 

Additional Websites:

  • eMammal : Upload photos of any mammals that you encounter on your bioblitz.
  • iNaturalist: Record the biodiversity in your yard.

Activities:

Handouts:

 


Week 2: BACKYARD BIRDING

What Birds Can You Find in Your Backyard?

To answer this question we have adapted existing doorbell monitoring technology (Blink) to experience the wonders of our bird friends! That’s right… we have BIRDCAMS!!

Our motion-activated cameras have the ability to take short videos of any bird that comes to our feeders, and sometimes, some uninvited guests! What will we find? Well over the next few weeks we will see, but we promise it will be fun.

So what are we going to do with these images? Well, first of all, share the beauty of these birds with you! But also, we will be using them to build some fun photos, videos, and home activities that you can do on a rainy day.

But, more importantly, here is what we want you to do. Don’t just look at our pictures, go out into your own backyard, find a quiet place to sit. Watch and listen for the sounds of our bird friends! What do you see? What do you hear?

The fun of summer camp is experiencing nature, let’s do that together.

Additional Resources:

 

 

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Check out some of the birds we’ve seen in our backyards!


Week 3: Backyard Science & The Scientific Method

Let’s Ask Some Questions!

Science is the study of the natural world based on facts and learning through observation and experimentation. We can’t just assume we know what is happening – we need to think things through and most importantly, we need data to make a decision.
Since we have been focusing on things in our backyards and familiar surroundings, this week we will take a casual observation of some items growing in an herb garden, make a hypothesis and conduct an experiment to test our observation. Follow along to see what we discover and learn how to conduct an experiment of your own!

 

 

 

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Week 4: STREAM ECOLOGY

What Lives in Our Streams?

Did you know that may of the insect species we see in our backyards spent time as young larvae in the streams? Or that our streams contain snails and crayfish, along with lots of species of fish?

To help you better understand what lives in our streams, we have invited a stream ecologist to come to talk with us not only about what we may find, but how you can use this information to determine how healthy your stream is!

Checkout the short videos, handouts,  and activities to get you exploring the small streams of our mountain home!

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Week 5:  BACKYARD WILDLIFE !

What Lives in our Forests?

We have all experienced the peacefulness of taking a walk in the forest. The wind in the trees, the smell of the leaves – all of these things are things that we fondly remember from our journeys.

But what about the things we did not see? Sometimes we may catch a hint of a bird, or a squirrel, but often we leave our journey wondering what else did we not see?

As part of our summer camp, we are going to answer that question. Using trail cameras, we are going to explore what wildlife is present along a mountain stream in the North Carolina mountains. Our cameras take a burst of two photos, both day and night, every time something enters into the field of view.

When you check out the photos below, also take a look at the date and time in the lower right. When is this animal active and why do you think that it is active at this time? By exploring what the camera is showing us, we can learn more about the animals we may not normally see.

So, what will we see? Well…. let’s explore this together!

 

 

 

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Additional Websites:

Coming later today…. sites where you can get involved in citizen science projects using your photos!

Check out some of the pictures from the trail cameras below!


Week 6:  Jungles of Belize!

In the Jungle!

We have been spending all of our time so far in the mountains of North Carolina, but now it is time for us to take our field trip to Belize!

Each year we take student and adult groups to Belize to experience the wonders of the coral reefs, rainforests, Mayan ruins and Belizian culture. Belize is an amazing little country, whose people are eager to have you experience the richness of their communities. Since this year we can’t bring you there in person, we will be taking a virtual tour.

This week we are also lucky to have a few virtual experiences hosted by the Belize Zoo, one of our international partners. Both of these events will be on FaceBook, so check them out if you can

Also, our friends at the Belize Raptor Center have some amazing videos of their work on raptor rehabilitation and conservation.

So, what will we see? Well…. let’s explore this together!

Links to Our Articles and More Pictures of Belize.

 

 

 

Activities:

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Check out some of the pictures from the trail cameras below!


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last updated: Sept 11, 2020