Naturalists at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Treehouse are raising and launching monarch butterflies. In the Andorra meadow a short distance above the Trreehouse, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staffers Christina Moresi and Maris Harmon harvest milk weed leaves on which monarch butterflies have laid their small white eggs. They bring the leaves down to the Treehouse where the eggs hatch into caterpillars. They demand an abundant supply of milkweed leaves to munch on and grow. Moresi has filmed the whole metamorphosis. The grown caterpillars will climb to the top of a screen mesh and spin into milky green colored pupae. As the pupae mature, their casings become translucent and the butterflies' distinctive orange markings become visible. Finally the encapsulated butterflies emerge out of the bottom and pump blood to stretch out their new wings.
The naturalists place a small round tag on each newborn's wing and register it in an online database so if it is found in Mexico or en route, it can be identified. Moresi (right in photo) explains that the butterflies which lay their eggs in the Andorra are the fourth generation of butterflies migrating from hibernation in Mexico. Before they are released, the young monarchs are fed a rich diet of nectar and become flight worthy in a tall netted enclosure. The Center announces when they are about to release a group of monarchs. They are bound for Mexico, an extraordinary 2000 mile journey.
(Interviewer's Note: Conservationists have been actively engaged in combating a severe long term decline in the population of the monarch butterfly, a beautiful and important pollinator, that has been attributed to habitat loss from logging and pesticide use)
Clockwise from top left. Teens from Wordsworth Academy, a special needs school assist children in making recycled bottle planters. An activist with Sea Shepherd talks about the group's efforts to save endangered porpoises and whales. From the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, a horseshoe crab. FEMA is ready to assist in disasters, this representative from the flood mitigation unit assures. Evergreen Lane farm sets up aquaponics systems. Photo on web here.
Elijah Fletcher ran away from the George Junior Republic residential school north of Pittsburgh last July because he was missing home and even missing trouble. That memorable adventure in a swamp being attacked by mosquitos ended with his return to the school. On June 3rd he was beaming at his high school graduation with his proud Dad by his side, about to begin his first job, and with a handsome college scholarship in hand. After earning a degree in psychology and sociologist, he plans to give back through work helping youth find a better life than stealing and drugs. Watch video here.
A Penn Environment representative demonstrates how planting trees will cool the earth and counter global warming using a lamp, a model house and tree and a temperature reading gun. Video and interview here.
Architecture students from Philadelphia University demonstrate the model they've desgined of a turbine that would sit in the ocean off of Santa Monica California that would not only generate energy from wave action but would allow people to walk through the apparatus. The walkway is composed of segments which compensate for undulations and thus would grant visitors a level walking experience while connecting directly with the source of their [electric] power. The designers, entering their model in a competition, describe their invention as "habitable generative art." Watch video and interview here.
Speech pathology students from Salus University offer samples of thickened juice to educate the public how thickened liquids can help people with swallowing problems inadvertently breathe liquids into their lungs. Watch video and interview here.
Quaker Action activist Chris Baker Evens urge the PECO [Exelon] electric utility to agree to buy back energy from residents of North Philadelphia who install renewable, solar energy panels on their rooftops. At a booth across the way at the Philadelphia Science Festival, PECO representatives advise the public how to save on their energy bills. Watch video and interview here.
Alison and Robin of Philadelphia's Resource Exchange demonstrate and explain how scraps of clothing and many other things you might be inclined to trash can be used to make art or recycled for other purposes. Watch video interview here.
Students in an advanced American Sign Language (ASL) class offered by the Deaf-Hearing Communication Center based in Swarthmore, PA took turns acting out and signing the short and apparently humorous scenarios they chanced to pick out of a paper bag held by their teacher. Chestnut Hill branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Watch video here.
A generous school parent purchased a 3D printer for James Hilburt's math classes at the J. S. Jenks Middle School in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia and Hilburt is getting the students excited about designing their own projects by printing out 3-d stackable cups, a rubik's cube-like 3d puzzle, a complete chess set and small replicas of the Disney Castle and the Eiffel Tower. To help the students understand design and construction, Hilburt is first having them build a bridge with Popsicle sticks. For the 3d printer projects, Hilburt downloads digital templates onto his computer and loads them into the printer; a rapidly moving arm lays down layer after layer of threadlike strands of melted plastic through a small nozzle head to build the creations from the ground up, taking nearly a day for the more complicated ones. Watch video here.
Dental hygienist Kara Hershey assiduously removes tartar from your correspondent's teeth while more than holding up her end of the conversation and guardedly discloses her ideas for inventions that she thinks could revolutionize dental care!
Your correspondent volunteered in the kitchen for two weeks this summer at the Audubon Society's nature camps on Hog Island, some skipping stones length off of Bremen, Maine in Muscongus Bay and shares some highlights - and wisecracks - with you!
--With many thanks to those on the other side of your correspondent's lens!
On Hog Island, Maine , raptor biologist Rob Bierregaard and a guest expert demonstrate how a juvenile osprey is measured, blood-sampled and banded for scientific study purposes. Just minutes before, they had climbed a ladder to snatch and secret the chick away and worked quickly so as to reduce stress to it and return it as soon as possible to its likely fretting parents. Watch video here.
Biology professor Jerry Skinner holds a black capped chickadee in a photographer's grip as he discusses how to identify species of chickadees and the art and science of banding birds. Watch video here.
On a boat trip, to Harbor Island, Skinner demonstrates how to sample plankton using a net trailing the boat. Watch video here. [Sorry for wind noise.]
Snow Goose III Captain Bill Chapman and First Mate Meghan Kennedy bring up cages with lobsters and talk about lobsters and lobstering in Muscongus Bay
Built in Bath, Maine in 1902 to carry coal. this three thousand ton 273 foot long 5 masted schooner was refitted to become a nightclub in 1929, gutted in 1938 to become- unsuccessfully- storage for lobsters. The Cora was then scuttled near the shore to serve as a breakwater. According to an older gentleman at a nearby dock, attempts to remove the ship by burning failed and break away debris poses a threat to sea-goers. Watch video here.
EDUCATORS WEEK EVENING POTPOURRI
The Audubon Society's Sue Shubel trains a powerful microscope on a small bunch of barnacles and describes how they open up to use their filaments to feed on plankton. Watch video here.
By keeping the moon on one side of them as they fly, moths are able to navigate and fly straight-ish. But they also keep a nearby artificial light at night to the same side and end up going around in circles. Moth student extraordinaire Paul shares his recently acquired knowledge of moths indigenous to Hog Island. He appears to be on his on his way to becoming acquainted with nearly all the 160,000 known species and has a growing collection. By identifying moths temporarily captured on a lit up vertical white sheet, he was able to deduce what flora were nearby because some moths in their caterpillar stage feed only on the leaves of one plant or tree species. Watch video here.
And last but not least, a glimpse of what life was really like from a kitchen volunteer's view and the volunteers put on some plays:
The Story of the Ladlebird inspired by the newly commissioned play about Mabel Loomis Todd and