- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

EdVentures@Ijams homeschoolers learn about mammals

EdVentures@Ijams homeschoolers met last Friday to learn about the furry creatures that live at the nature center, from shrews to otters.

Yes, mammals were our topic. We explored mole holes, met an opossum, found oodles of gray squirrels and one chipmunk but no foxes, beavers, coyotes or minks because they are all nocturnal and we are diurnal. We even looked at different types of skulls, albeit no lions and tigers and bears, oh my. We learned about the arrangement and type of the teeth--called dentition--can determine if the animal was a carnivore or herbivore or if it was some kind of rodent.

Ijams Homeschool Academy
is divided into three age groups and taught by Christie Collins, Ashlind Bray and Stephen Lyn.

Next month's exploration will be yard birds.

And even though the school year has started, we still have room for a few more junior explorers at a discounted price. Call Lauren: 577-4717, ext. 135.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ijams reaches out to Gibbs with spider truisms

Spiders are so misunderstood. Last Thursday, Ijams educators did an outreach program, "The Truth about Spiders" for the kindergarten kids at Gibbs Elementary School. And believe us, their teachers had prepared them beforehand.

Eight legs. Yep. Eight eyes. Yep. Two body parts. Yep. Plus that spiders are predators that eat lots and lots and lots of insects, so they are really good to have around.

We took Rosie, our Chilean rose hair tarantula and we found a lovely garden spider, a.k.a. writing spider outside sitting in her orb web, so the young spider-ologists got to examine her closely.

Ijams has been doing outreach nature programs to local schools since the 1970s.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ijams Homeschool Academy meets for invertebrates

Yesterday, Ijams Homeschool Academy met for the second time for the 2017-18 school year.

Our topic was invertebrates, namely the arthropods, i.e. insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes and isopodes...well, you know...roly-polies. Our field work was taught at three separate locations around the nature center with Ashlind, Christie and Stephen Lyn hosting different age groups.

Ijams have been connecting kids to nature since the summer of 1923. And it was a perfect day to think about bugs whether they had 6 legs, 8 legs or 734 legs.

Have you ever let a millipede (they are vegetarians, you know) crawl across your hand? It tickles!

For information about Ijams Homeschool Academy call Lauren at 577-4717, ext. 135. It is not too late to join in on the fun.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

TN Naturalists@Ijams explore the world of fungi, lichen

Last week the TN Naturalists@Ijams class of 2017 explored the mysterious world of mycology i.e. fungus. 

Often overlooked because they are too weird or complex to know, fungi have an important role in the environment. They are decomposers.  Wherever you find them, you find something dead being broken down into its constituent nutrients to be recycled by the living.

Ijams volunteer naturalist Nick Stahlman led the field trip and raised our M.A.Q. (Mushroom Awareness Quotient). And everywhere we looked we found fungi and lichen.

Visible mushrooms are the above ground fruiting bodies of the much larger fungi that lives below the surface in a network of root-like filaments called hyphae that make up the mycelium that can be enormous

Some above ground "shrooms" are remarkably ephemeral. Their maturation ends with the mushroom's gills dispersing spores.

If you are into nature, you are into Ijams. 

The statewide TN Naturalist@Ijams program we teach is 40 hours of classes, 40 hours of volunteering. Interested in next year? Call Lauren about the 2018 class at 577-4717, ext. 135.

- Supplied photos by naturalist and commercial photographer Kristy Keel-Blackmon

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bug hunters of all sizes came to Family Adventure Sunday

During this week's Family Adventure Sunday, three things of note were discovered on our Big Bug Safari with kids and their parents: the finger-size hairy brown caterpillar of an imperial moth, a velvet ant---actually a wingless wasp that farmers call cow killers---and several soldier beetles on all the blooming white frostweed.

Thanks Beverly Tomov for helping ID the catch.