It's time now for our Sunday Science, taking you back to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. This week, Cat Viglienzoni talks to senior naturalist Kerri Ziemann about how the nature center is using hands-on art projects to get young children interested in science.
Reporter: "So tell me a little bit about the family art and nature series. What is the goal for that series? What do you hope people will take away from it when they come here?"
Ziemann: "We've been doing the family art and nature series since 2007, and it's a winter program that's offered for our community members or anybody that happens to drop by, and the goal is for families to engage together to think about nature through the art lens, do an art project, as well as have a little fun, meet a live animal, get out of the cold and come on into the museum."
Reporter: "So why do art and nature go so well together?"
Ziemann: "I think they go well together. The art offers the creativity and the nature offers endless topics to explore. So for instance, one of the programs we'll do will feature reptiles, and instead of just seeing the snake and hearing about the turtles, they can actually make a snake to take home, look at the patterns on the live snake, and then make one of their own. So it's a nice combination."
Reporter: "And for kids especially, what does that do to take something visual and combine it with something more tactile?"
Ziemann: "It really works one, with their observation skills. So getting them to slow down, stop, and look. And then to be able to replicate it. And it's just fun. And we have fun with preschoolers through older elementary kids."
Reporter: "I bet. And a few of the highlights from past events or ones you have coming up, what do you have on the docket?"
Ziemann: "Well one of our favorite events is our annual Otter Birthday, and this year it's March 30. And this is a day to celebrate springtime. That's when baby otters are born. And we have four otters here at the Wild Center. And we have a huge birthday celebration with cake for the otters, cake for the people, games, crafts, facepainting -- what more could you ask for?"
Reporter: "So otter cake -- what is that made of?"
Ziemann: "Otter cake -- our animal care staff has a great time with this. Typically it's large, round frozen blocks of ice, with all kinds of goodies inside. And by that I mean frozen fish, vegetables, fruits, anything that smells good and the otters will just tear into."
Reporter: "Now I didn't really think of otters as really eating fruits and vegetables -- does that actually inspire kids to eat their fruits and vegetables?"
Ziemann: "No, actually, the fruits and vegetables for an otter diet are supplementary, and they're part of our enrichment program to give otters something different and new. Their primary source of food is fish. So maybe it inspires them to eat fish -- I don't know."
The Art & Nature series is every Sunday until that otter birthday party on March 30. This Sunday, kids can explore how plants and animals of the Adirondacks are connected and meet a live raptor. They can also make a set of Nature Dominoes to take home. For more information and schedules, visit http://www.wildcenter.org/events/family-art-nature
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