A Walk in the Park Nature Encounters with the 2nd graders of Howard Roosa at Wesselman’s Woods
Wesselman’s Nature Preserve The nature preserve is located on the East side of Evansville and contains a building with inside nature encounters and a nature walk for outside nature encounters. Along with the 2nd graders of Howard Roosa enrolled in the Parks and Recreation Summer Program, I went to Wesselman’s to the Nature Preserve and on a walk on the trails in the woods. We saw many different types of plants and insects on our walk, but we did not see a lot of animals. However, when we were in the Nature Preserve, we did see several animals through the viewing windows.
Some of the Kids
Questions Many of the children questioned the lack of animals on our walk. Why were there more animals visible from inside the building? Did the temperature or time of day affect our experience and encounters on the walk? Did the noise level of the children affect it? Is there some sort of environmental factor, such as drought or parasites, that went into the equation? What were some of the plants we saw? Are they native to Indiana and this area?
Inside and Outside This Chart shows the difference between the animals and insects that we saw from inside the Nature Center and outside on the trails.
Animals We Saw
Different types of birds
An owl named Luna
Blue birds, cardinals, and more!
(Lots and lots of insects, especially mosquitoes)
Plants We Saw
Many Trees that we did not know the names of
Some type of orange-colored fungus that was growing on the dead trees
(Many trees had died and fallen across the path. To keep the paths clear, these trees had been cut in half, and we were able to see all of the rings on the inside. The kids were very impressed by this)
Some native plants of Indiana that we came across were: White Oak Trees Wild Grapes Gold Tulip Poplar Dandelions Ocean Blue Phacelia (only found in Wesselman’s) Honeysuckle
Why noise could have been an issue On our nature walks on the forest paths, we came across few animals. We saw a few birds, but they were quick to fly away, and we never got very close. While reading a textbook, I came across an idea called “fright distance”. It is defined as how close a predator, or human, can get to an animal, especially birds, before they are frightened away. Noise can increase the fright distance. This means that the distance away that a predator must be before the animal flees is greater, so the predator can not get as close to it. From: Exploring Science and Mathematics in a Child’s World.
Other Interesting Information: Here are some interesting facts on some of the native birds of Indiana that we saw at Wesselman’s: The Eastern Bluebird It is the cousin of the American Robin. It eats insects and fruit. It is a year-round resident of southern Indiana only. (This is the only area that it does not migrate from and remains here during the winter). Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker It is a type of woodpecker. It is the only Indiana woodpecker that has a red chin patch (most only have red on the tops of their heads.) It eats sap and insects (despite it’s name, it licks the sap and doesn’t suck) American Kestrel Wesselman’s houses an injured bird of this species. Unlike most small birds of this area, it eats insects, small mammals, birds and reptiles.
Indicators Used: 4.1.2- Recognize and describe that results of scientific investigations are seldom exactly the same. If differences occur, such as large variation in the measurement of plant growth, propose reasons for why these differences exist, using recorded information about investigations 4.2.4- Use numerical data to describe and compare objects and events. 4.2.5- Write descriptions of investigations, using observations and other evidence as support for explanations. 4.2.6- Support statements with facts found in print and electronic media, identify the sources used, and expect others to do the same. 4.4.3- Observe and describe that organisms interact with one another in various ways, such as providing food, pollination, and seed dispersal.
References: Davis, G. A. (2009). Exploring Science and Mathematics in a Child’s World. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. McPherson, A. J. (2007). Wild Food Plants of Indiana and Adjacent States.Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Stonewood Design Group Inc,. (2009). White Oak Trees. Retrieved athttp://www.stonewooddesigngroup.com/articles/white-oak-tree. Tekiela, S. (2000). Birds of Indiana: Field Guide. Cambridge, Minnesota: Adventure Publications. Wesselman;s Woods Nature Preserve. (2008). In Wesselman’sNature Society. Retrieved at http://www.wesselmannaturesociety.org/woods/index.php.