Turtle Tagging

Last week, a volunteer group from Burlington Christian Academy worked with our horticulture team to clean up the bioremediation cell adjacent to our parking lot. (BTW, bioremediation cell is a scientific way of describing a landscaped area containing plants that remove heavy metals from parking lot runoff so these toxic chemicals don’t enter our water supply.) During this work, they stumbled upon – almost literally – a partially-hidden box turtle!

The GSC participates in the Box Turtle Connection, a long-term study of eastern box turtles to understand more about their status, trends, and threats, as well as to develop strategies for long-term conservation of the species. Any box turtles found on or around GSC grounds are added to the database.

We collected morphometric (which is a science-y way of saying size and shape)  measurements such as weight, length, and width, and we record sex and age.

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Using a turtle ID code matrix, we made small indentations on the turtle’s marginal and peripheral carapace scutes. In other words, we filed small triangles into the outer-most part of the turtle’s shell in a particular pattern that is specific to that individual. This acts as an identifier should we find this turtle again someday.

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Finally, a small radio transmitter was affixed to this turtle’s shell so we can track its movements. The tag was adhered to the shell in a location that won’t impact the turtle’s mobility or ability to move through vegetation. Once the adhesive dried, the turtle was returned the same location it was found.

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Box turtles hibernate over winter, so we will not attempt to radio-track the turtle until the weather warms next year. Using radio telemetry, we’ll be able to track the movements of the turtle. By knowing the GPS coordinates of the turtle’s movements we can better understand the territory this turtle has and how far it travels in the warmer months. All of this information adds to our collective knowledge of the eastern box turtle!

Why is this research important?

While eastern box turtles can be found across North Carolina, populations are declining from habitat fragmentation and road-related mortality – as well as from being collected as a pet. They are a long-lived animal (more than 25 years), so they take years to reach sexual maturity. Therefore, it takes a long time for them to recover from population declines. Collecting and interpreting data about these animals now can help us protect them in the future!

What should you do if you find a box turtle?

If you find a box turtle attempting to cross a road, never take it home! Instead, merely help it cross because it will continue to try and return to its birthplace. Box turtles have a homing instinct, similar to birds, so they return to the same location year over year to build nests.

This time of year box turtles are looking for hibernation spaces. In late fall or over winter – although it is uncommon – you may see one bed down in brush or plant debris. If you find a box turtle in cold weather, be sure to leave it be. Animals that hibernate drastically reduce their metabolism to survive the winter when food sources cannot easily be found. Arousing them from hibernation is dangerous because they won’t be able to replenish the energy it takes to come out of hibernation!

Conservation Creation: Sensational Spiders

Halloween is right around the corner – which means we’re beginning to see lots of spooky decorations around town! These decorations often include an animal that strikes fear in the heart of many: the spider.

Spiders are commonly listed as one of the things people fear most in the United States. However, these animals play an important role in our ecosystems and do more for us than people may realize. But, before we get to that, what exactly is a spider?

Spiders are arachnids, meaning that they have 2 body segments and 8 legs. In the United States alone, we have more than 3,000 spider species present – which is only a fraction of the over 40,000 species found worldwide. Even with all of these different spider species present, very few are actually dangerous to humans. In North Carolina, the black widow and brown recluse are the only spiders with a venom that is able to harm a human. However, these spiders are small and prefer cool, damp places, so meeting one of them is unlikely.

Spiders and other arachnids have a diet that consists almost entirely of insects. In fact, spiders consume an estimated 400 million tons (or 800 billion pounds) of insects every year!

In addition to spiders eliminating unwanted insect pests from our daily lives, they have also contributed to science and technology in other fascinating ways. For example, did you know that spiders’ webs inspired the creation of mosquito nets? Before mosquito nets, many people would actually bring web weaving spiders (called orb weavers) into their children’s rooms to catch mosquitos and prevent malaria.

Speaking of spider webs, spider silk is the strongest known material in the world. A strand of spider silk is up to 5 times as strong as a string of steel the same size! For this reason, spider silk is often used in research to develop materials like Kevlar and other synthetic materials.

To learn more about these amazing arachnids and help create a community web, remember to join our educators in Jeansboro Junction at the Greensboro Science Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30am and 2:30pm throughout the month of October.

 

Now that you have a new found love of spiders…

We’re sure you would like more of them around your home! We’re here to help you with that, with a DIY spider activity that will be perfect for your Halloween decorations!

What you will need:

  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • straws (or pipe cleaners)
  • scissors
  • paint
  • googly eyes
  • a paint brush

Step 1: Cut a toilet paper tube in half and glue it to the center of a whole toilet paper tube. Allow for the glue to dry.

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Step 2: Cut 4 straws in half so that you have 8. Using a little glue on the inside of the full toilet paper tube, adhere these to create the legs of your spider. (If you are comfortable, hot glue will speed up this process)

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Step 3: Paint your spider. For an added challenge, take pictures of spiders you find in your yard or other natural areas and try to paint your spiders to look like them!

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Step 4: Attach googly eyes (or paint eyes) on your spider. Spiders can have anywhere from 2-8 eyes so add any number that you like!

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Step 5: Allow for all of the paint and glue to dry before decorating your home with these upcycled arachnids. Happy Halloween!

Greensboro Science Center Announces Fall Science Cafes

This fall, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is hosting two science cafes in its Science Advancement through Innovative Learning (SAIL) STEM Center. On Thursday, October 3, Dr. Katharine Holder will present Trouble in Paradise: Today’s Coral Reef Conundrum, and on Sunday, November 3, Jill Heinerth will present The Science of Cave Diving. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the talks begin at 6:30 p.m. Science cafes are free to attend.

Trouble in Paradise: Today’s Coral Reef Conundrum
Thursday, October 3, 2019; 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Science Cafe: Trouble in Paradise

Dr. Katharine Holder will present this Science Café designed to help guests understand what exactly coral is, why it is important, what threats this delicate and essential ecosystem are facing, and what can be done to protect this valuable resource.

Dr. Katharine Holder is originally from the mountains of North Carolina. She attended North Carolina State University for her undergraduate degree and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree. She currently practices small animal medicine in Chapel Hill, NC. Dr. Holder also has a special interest in the marine world. After vet school, she got a masters degree from George Mason University studying marine conservation. She enjoys SCUBA diving and teaching people about the beautiful world of coral reefs.

The Science of Cave Diving
Sunday, November 3, 2019; 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Science Cafe: The Science of Cave Diving

This Science Café features Jill Heinerth, a veteran of over thirty years of filming, photography and exploration on projects in submerged caves around the world with National Geographic, NOAA, various educational institutions and television networks worldwide.

A sport once tagged as the domain of adrenaline junkies, cave divers have become an important asset to scientists exploring global climate change, archaeology, water issues, and unique biology. Underwater explorer, Jill Heinerth will share stories from expeditions to faraway caves around the world from Egypt to Antarctica and Bermuda to the Bahamas. She’ll offer a fast-paced multimedia show about tiny venomous creatures and ancient lofty stalagmites that tell the story of earth before man.

New Project Announcement: Kiwanisaurus Tree House Adventure

The Kiwanis Club of Greensboro and Nat Greene Kiwanis have partnered with the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) to build a one-of-a-kind science exploration playground in the trees. The Kiwanisaurus Tree House Adventure will blend specialized tree houses, interactive adventure bridges and tree-themed play elements with dinosaurs and other science storylines to encourage new perspectives about life and adventure from a birds-eye view.

Thanks to The Kiwanis Club of Greensboro and Nat Greene Kiwanis, guests of all ages – including children younger than 8 (who don’t meet the age requirement for SKYWILD, the GSC’s aerial adventure course) – will now have a new, elevated adventure park to explore. In addition, a significant portion of this new playground will be ADA-accessible. The Hagan Family and the Cummings Family have also generously sponsored individual treehouses that will serve as fun, educational outposts for children of all ages to experience.

Kiwanisaurus Tree House Adventure will be constructed between the GSC’s existing Animal Discovery Zoo and the soon-to-be-built Revolution Ridge zoo expansion.

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With gibbons to your back and red pandas to your front, this signature playground will place kids and families at the center of it all as the GSC continues to expand and diversify meaningful and memorable experiences for all guests.

Construction is set to begin this fall and will take approximately four months to complete. GSC staff will add dinosaurs, educational graphics and storylines over the winter in preparation for a Spring 2020 grand opening.

Glenn Dobrogosz, CEO of the GSC, says, “Kiwanis International is at the forefront of building playgrounds across America. Our local friends with Kiwanis have been amazing to work with. We are so thankful that two of our local clubs want to keep this tradition alive right here in Greensboro. Also, the beauty of this tree house design is that it can grow and expand and maybe someday create an incredible bridge between our current and future zoo.”

Conservation Creation: Red Panda-monium, featuring DIY Seed Bombs!

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Red pandas are undeniably one of the world’s cutest animals. With bright red fur, striking facial features and a big fluffy tail, these animals have quickly become popular throughout the internet and in the hearts of our guests. However, these traits serve a larger purpose than to pull at our heartstrings! Red pandas are native to Southeast Asia, particularly in the temperate forests near the Himalayan Mountains. In these areas, temperatures remain cool and that large fluffy tail is used almost like a blanket to keep these small animals warm. In addition to providing warmth, that beautiful thick red fur helps these animals camouflage themselves within the red lichens that grow in their natural habitat.

Believe it or not, the red panda is the original panda. Red pandas were discovered around 50 years before the black and white giant pandas that we typically think of. These animals have caused quite a headache for scientists over the years as they’ve tried to figure out the relationship between red pandas and giant pandas.

Currently, red pandas are classified in their own unique family called Ailuridae. However different these animals may seem, they do share some commonality. For one, both the red panda and the giant panda love to eat bamboo! These animals are also both greatly affected by habitat loss. Here at the Greensboro Science Center we support the Red Panda Network, an organization dedicated to preserving these animals. You can also help red pandas by donating to the Red Panda Network here (https://www.redpandanetwork.org) and by continuing to visit the Greensboro Science Center and other AZA accredited zoos and aquariums!

Remember to join us during the month of September on Tuesdays and Thurdsays at 10:30am and 2:30pm at our red panda habitat to participate in our Conservation Creation activity as well as on September 14thfor Red Panda Day!

While red pandas live thousands of miles away from us, there are things we can do for animals effected by habitat loss right here in North Carolina! Some of these animals include our local pollinators such as bees and butterflies. As we move in to the cooler months of fall, we can begin planting flowers and other plants to help out these animals. To get started, we have a cool DIY activity for you to do at home that will be fun for you and beneficial to our local pollinators: Seed Bombs!

DIY Seed Bombs

What you will need: Air-dry clay, potting soil or compost, water, seeds, a large mixing bowl, a measuring cup of any size

To choose seeds that will be the most beneficial to your area, visit this website: https://www.ourstate.com/tips-bee-friendly-garden-north-carolina/

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Seed bomb ingredients

Step 1: Take 1 part clay, 1 part water, and 2 parts potting soil or compost and combine them in your mixing bowl.

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Combine 1 part clay, 1 part water, and 2 parts potting soil or compost

Step 2: Use your hands (or a large spoon) to mix the ingredients together, adding water as necessary. Your final mixture should be similar to Play-Doh in consistency.

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Mix ingredients, adding water as necessary, until the mixture has a Play-Doh-like consistency

Step 3: Add your seeds of choice to the mixture and mix thoroughly.

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Add seeds

Step 4: Form the mixture into balls or another fun shape of your choosing.

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Form the mixture into balls

Step 5: Allow 2-3 days for your seed bombs to dry and then toss them wherever you would like your seed bombs to grow! Seed bombs don’t require care or attention so they can be placed wherever you would like to see your flowers. Visit them often in the Fall and Spring to see if you have any insect visitors!

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Completed seed bombs!

New Exhibition Reveals Inside Story about Toys

Toys-LogoIf your parents never let you break open your Etch A Sketch® to find out how it works, or if you’ve been wondering how to stop your toddler’s push toy from making such an infernal racket, you’ll love Toys: The Inside Story. Greensboro Science Center (GSC) guests can experience this temporary new exhibit beginning Thursday, September 26, 2019. GSC members are invited to preview the exhibit on Wednesday, September 25 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Toys includes 12 different hands-on stations illustrating the simple mechanisms commonly found in toys and lets guests create their own toy-like combinations of gears, pulleys, linkages, cams, and circuits.

Jack Gets Out of His Box gives guests a close-up view of the cam combination that frees our hero “Jack,” while elsewhere we unmask the amazing collection of switches, cams and motors that make Elmo® dance and Mr. Machine® run.

Many of the exhibit elements are free-form and open-ended: Gears at Play illustrates the effects of gear ratios as visitors figure out how to spin ballerinas and a carousel, while the Jeepers Peepers challenge at the pulley table may take a little experimentation to solve.

The Toys exhibition was developed by the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vt., with funding from a National Science Foundation grant awarded to seven museums nationwide, all seven of which comprise TEAMS (Traveling Exhibits at Museums of Science).

To accompany the exhibit, the GSC’s popular maze will return with a toy theme. Activities in the Toy Maze will include a virtual ball pit, fascinating facts about toys throughout time and hands-on stations that inspire play for all ages.

Toys: The Inside Story and the Toy Maze will be open Thursday, September 26, 2019 through Sunday, January 5, 2020. Admission to both exhibits is free with general admission or membership. General admission is $14.50 for adults ages 14 – 64, $13.50 for children ages 3 – 13, and $13.50 for seniors ages 65+. Children 2 and under are free.

Red Panda Day Celebration: September 14

red-panda-day-2019On Saturday, September 14, 2019, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) is celebrating International Red Panda Day with a variety of crafts, games, education stations, and activities. The celebration will take place at the red panda exhibit in the GSC’s zoo from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

During the event, GSC guests will be invited to become Red Panda Rangers – individuals recognized by the Red Panda Networkas those who help spread the word about red pandas. To become a Red Panda Ranger, guests can pick up a passport and travel to stations representing countries in Asia where red pandas are found, complete activities and earn stamps. Participants who complete the passport will be given a small token of appreciation as they are deputized as official Red Panda Rangers.

Red panda paintings, created by the GSC’s red pandas, Tai and Usha, will be available for purchase. Proceeds will be donated to the Red Panda Network. Guests can also support the Red Panda Network by dropping loose change into a red panda bank.

In addition, guests will have the opportunity to symbolically adopt a red panda. Donations made through the GSC’s Adopt An Animal program provide critical support for animal care, education programs and wildlife conservation at the GSC. Adoptions can be made during the event, in the TriceraShop gift shop or online at www.greensboroscience.org/give.

International Red Panda Day activities (excluding donation opportunities) are free with general admission or GSC membership. General admission is $14.50 for adults ages 14 – 64, $13.50 for children ages 3 – 13, and $13.50 for seniors ages 65+. Children 2 and under are free.