Another fantastic Summer Science Camp has come and gone, and once again we had an excellent group of kids! This camp was held at Abiquiu Lake, thanks to our partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Campers came in from Santa Fe, Española, and Abiquiu to explore the habitats of Abiquiu Lake and learn some place-based science. This week was particularly hot, and we were fortunate to have the lake as a place to cool off!
We had a fantastic week of camp. Why can’t we do this every week? Thanks to The Pantry Restaurant for their generous sponsorship of this camp. We wouldn’t be able to do this without our sponsors!
We do have one more science camp taking place this summer at Heron Lake State Park near Tierra Amarilla, and this camp still has a few openings! If you know a child in the area who would like to participate, send them our way.
Last week was NMWC’s first Summer Science Camp of the year! This camp was generously sponsored by Owl Peak Farm in La Madera and brought in campers from La Madera, El Rito, Ojo Caliente, and Española. Students met at Bode’s General Store each morning, and we headed up to Abiquiu Lake for a day of fun in the sun!
On Monday after our hike, we learned about buoyancy.
On Tuesday we expanded our knowledge of buoyancy by building model boats.
Building model boats and learning why they float helps us understand why our canoes float.
On Wednesday we headed up into the Santa Fe National Forest to explore a slightly different ecosystem and learn about where our water comes from.
On our mountain adventure we learned some basic survival skills and used our newfound knowledge of knots to build emergency shelters from ponchos.
On Thursday we headed back to Abiquiu Lake for a canoeing excursion and a picnic lunch on an island.
After this big day of exploring and playing in the lake, we headed to our group shelter for our Thursday night camp out. The campers put their tents up all by themselves (for the most part).
Right after we put up our tents, a dark line of clouds approached.
Fortunately, the storm missed us, and the campers were happy spending a little time playing chess before dinner.
On Friday we headed back to the lake for a half day of swimming and playing in the water before it was time to go home.
We had an absolutely fantastic week with these great kids, and I think everybody learned a lot about science and about New Mexico’s precious water resources. We can’t wait for our next camp!
Once again our fantastic partners with the US Army Corps of Engineers at Abiquiu Lake were on hand with loaner life jackets.
Our students demonstrated that they know how to launch their own boats and began to paddle!
Due to the weather (and very high waves thanks to high winds), we decided to hang out close to the ramp. Lake temperatures are still very cold!
We caught our students showing off a bit this time as they became more familiar with their boats. We saw many kayak races and even some students paddling backwards!
After paddling all around our cove many times, our students worked up an appetite. We headed for our group shelter to roast some hot dogs!
Our students’ families joined us for this celebration of the hard work our students have put in this year.
At the end of the day, our students carried their kayaks up from the lake, loaded them on their vehicles, and headed off.
Before our students left, we conducted a little interview in which we asked the students how they enjoyed building their kayaks and what they felt they learned. Along with the comments about students enjoying the work with power tools and exploring the lake, we heard this:
“[My favorite part of building kayaks was] working with each other as a team and getting to know each other better.”
“[I learned that] you don’t have to buy everything. You can make your own.”
“[Building kayaks has] built my self confidence because I was able to know that I built something and it worked well.”
Keep an eye out for our students paddling around local lakes this summer! We’ve gotten them hooked on having fun on the water!
Our year-long endeavor to build kayaks from scratch passed a big milestone last Friday: our first test float! We headed up to Abiquiu Reservoir with our boats. Our partners at the US Army Corps of Engineers let us borrow some of their loaner life jackets (If you’re ever up at Abiquiu, check it out! You can borrow a life jacket for free!).
As soon as the students arrived, the wind picked up. With overcast skies and water temperatures in the 40s, we were all really motivated to stay dry.
Our students couldn’t believe that the day had arrived. We found out that none of them actually expected the kayaks to float! Fortunately, they were wrong.
We were lucky to have a few sets of parents show up to watch this initial boat launch. They watched from shore as our students got comfortable paddling around in a sheltered cove.
Our kayaks turned out beautifully, and they performed well on this test float. We’re really looking forward to our next class when (we hope) the weather will be better so that we can explore the lake ecosystem using human power!
Due to unusually high flows on the Rio Chama below Abiquiu Dam through the end of 2015 and a very chilly start to 2016, our 4th-6th grade Española River Classroom hasn’t been able to search the river for benthic macroinvertebrates. That all changed last week, and we had quite a bit of exploring to do!
Our first task was pretty exciting. We met with USACE Ranger Austin to hear about some of USACE’s future plans for the area below Abiquiu Dam. Part of our goal is to collect data that can be used in evaluating the ecosystem for this project.
After this exciting discussion (during which our students showed off their knowledge of the Rio Chama), we put on waders and headed across the river to seek out more signs of life. This time we wanted to explore a little farther, so we carried shoes and left our waders by the river.
This time we found some additional signs of life, like several bird nests and some new scat. We also went into a little more detail in discussing plants in the area and the cryptobiotic crust we found in a few places.
After fully exploring the far bank of the Rio Chama, we headed back across the river for lunch and to collect and catalog benthic macroinvertebrates.
We found a good number of benthic macroinvertebrates (of which a good proportion happened to be midges), and we collected some great data to share with our friends at USACE. It was a gorgeous day on the river, and we can’t wait to get back out there!
Last Wednesday was a gorgeous day, and we were finally able to get out on the Rio Chama below Abiquiu Dam with our 4th-6th grade River Classroom students from Española. We’ve struggled to get out on the river because until January 1, flows were much too high to be wading. Since January 1 it seems like every Wednesday has been bitterly cold. Wednesday was just right!
We started off by talking about wader safety for the kids that haven’t had waders on before.
Soon we were heading out to wade across the Rio Chama.
Our goal was to explore an area across the river where we would like to build a wetland. We were looking for signs of animal life.
We found several paths created by animals, and we followed those to see what tracks we could find.
We also learned about plants.
Soon it was time to head back across the river for lunch and measuring water quality.
Our students also got to learn a little about fish that live in the river from USACE Ranger Nathaniel.
It was another gorgeous day outside with our River Classroom students!
Last Saturday we hosted our 2016 Eagle Watch at Abiquiu Lake! This event is held every year in conjunction with our partners the US Army Corps of Engineers. Every year citizen scientists from northern New Mexico come together to count the number of bald eagles on the lake. Data from mid-winter eagle watches all over the country are combined to get an idea of how our national bird is faring.
After a brief talk on bald eagles in New Mexico, some threats to these birds, and comparisons between juveniles, sub-adults, and adult eagles, participants headed outside to get a look at at least one eagle. Maxwell is a mature bald eagle housed at NMWC. Unfortunately due to his injuries, he’s not releasable.
After learning all about bald eagles, participants broke up into groups. Two groups went out on USACE boats to count eagles from the lake, and several groups went to fixed points on the land. All groups had radio communication and the lake was divided into sectors so that we made sure not to double-count any eagles.
Spotting eagles was a little more difficult this year, thanks to more snow than usual. We ended up spotting 10 eagles, although 2 of those were golden eagles (one adult and one juvenile). Of the 8 bald eagles spotted, only one was a sub-adult. This number is much fewer than last year, but it’s important data that will help us determine how bald eagles are doing as a species.
This event is always held on either the first or second Saturday of January. Join us next year!