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Showing posts with label Action Lab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Action Lab. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Faces at ECHO

Summer is always a lot of fun here at ECHO and there is always something new!  This year we have the new Action Lab exhibit space with activities for teens and adults, we have the new Lakeside Hall where we’ll be offering special programming and, of course, we have our newest traveling exhibit Bigger than T-Rex – all about the largest dinosaurs that roamed the earth!  Helping us make sure that everything is fun and engaging are some new faces working with out guests here at ECHO. We wanted to introduce you to this great group of folks who be sharing their enthusiasm and experience with ECHO guests every day. Please come on down this summer and welcome them to the greater-ECHO community.

Diantha Driscoll
Hi my name is Diantha Driscoll and I am recent graduate of UVM's Secondary Education program. I previously volunteered here at ECHO in the education department and now am very excited to be a part of the summer education team! We have had a great start to the summer so far - we even got to sail on Lake Champlain! My favorite thing about this summer so far has been interacting with guests (young and old!) out on the floor. I am looking forward to working with the education team to deliver demos and create activities for Wacky Wednesdays - a day in which a totally crazy, fun activity is planned to engage the brain, move the body, and create contraptions!

Cassidy Francik
Hi! My name is Cassidy Francik and I recently graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in animal science.  Before joining the awesome ECHO intern team, I had a chance to explore the world, particularly the world of science!  I have experience in various animal hospitals, zoos, and laboratories and even in the African savannah.  Within one week I was quickly captivated by ECHO’s growing adult education curriculum displayed in the “Action Lab”, which exemplifies the type of learning I love: experiential.  This hands-on lab for teens and adults has easily captured my attention, and I cannot wait to build upon my own experiences with future guests.  Given my background and past adventures, I have been mainly behind the scenes, but this summer will provide me with an opportunity to get out in front of the public and advocate for what I am most passionate about: nature near and far from us!  I cannot wait to meet and greet neighbors of the Burlington community and visitors from around the world.

Clair Gallagher
Hi my name is Claire Gallagher and I am a summer educational intern here at ECHO. I am a recent graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in elementary education. So far we have learned how to interact with guests through questioning and conversation in order to make visitors feel welcome and appreciated at the science center. My favorite thing so far has been working with the sea tank and observing the animal creatures.  I am excited to learn how to promote sustainability and stewardship of the lake.

Rachel Miller
Hi folks, Rachel Miller here. Asked to describe myself, I would say I am a very happy "life-long learner". I received my BA in Liberal Arts with high honors from Johnson State College in 2001. I come to ECHO with strong administrative and customer service skills and an endless curiosity to learn about the natural world around me. I have also learned many things from living and traveling abroad, and my experience as a professional singer and Arts producer. Although I have only been at ECHO for a week, I've got a favorite experience to share: there is a snapping turtle that is so phenomenal that he captures my attention every time I pass his tank, and I must give him a daily morning and evening greeting when I pass him by!  My goal for joining ECHO is to use my knowledge and communication skills to help educate both children and adults about the very exciting world of ECHO and the Champlain Basin.

Connor Gallagher
Hello everyone! My name is Connor Gallagher and I am a Summer Education Intern here at ECHO.  When I am not working at ECHO, I teach marine science to students on Catalina Island in California.  I love all outdoor activities, but my favorites involve water, especially SCUBA diving.  The best part about my job at ECHO is working with all of our awesome guests at the sea tank.  Everyone asks the best questions and pushes me to be a better educator and more curious scientist.  I look forward to our events on Wacky Wednesdays when our staff and guests can be wild and fun in the name of science and Lake Champlain.

Welcome to all our new educators and let's have a GREAT summer down here at ECHO on the Burlington waterfront!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Action Lab Opens May 18th!

Action Lab Opens May 18th!

ECHO's exciting, new offering for teens and adults - The Action Lab - officially opens on Saturday, May 18th. This new permanent exhibit focuses on how we can all participate in scientific research. Anchored by the Citizen Science bench, visitors can hone their observation skills that can be used out into the world. Different projects will be featured on this bench that you, our members and visitors, can contribute to. The interactivity of the state of the art Virtual Watershed Table will engage you for hours as you learn how water connects landscapes of all shapes.

In ECHO’s Action Lab you’re able to 
virtually visit attractions all around Lake Champlain with our new Spin Browser. Hop aboard the Melosira and join the adventure by pulling away from ECHO Aquarium and zipping under the Champlain Bridge, exploring Fort Ticonderoga and diving into the depth of the lake to visit the shipwreck of the General Buttler.

In addition to multiple engaging exhibit components, we are pleased to announce new educator-led programs are also being developed for this space. Guests will be able to learn how to identify various aquatic macroinvertebrates - which will help us identify how clean our streams and ponds are. Scientists talk about genetics and the role of DNA in our lives - but have you ever seen DNA? You’ll get the chance with the DNA Extraction program that will run periodically in the Action Lab. We’re working to create more and more teen and adult-oriented programming so everyone can learn something new when they visit ECHO.

Join us as we celebrate this long-awaited exhibit which includes special equipment, interactive programs, citizen science projects, and much more, all for our older guests. As a special thank you to our members, we are offering a citizen scientist gift for the first 150 members to visit the lab during the opening weekend.  Make sure you get here early!  

Friday, March 22, 2013

ECHO Partners with Vermont Atlas of Life

ECHO has joined one of the most ambitious conservation projects Vermont has ever seen: an online inventory of every living thing in the state. The new Vermont Atlas of Life is collecting sightings from citizen naturalists and professional biologists and presenting them in the form of maps, photos, and even social networking. From mushrooms to maples, moose to microorganisms, everything counts.

“What’s amazing about the nature of Vermont is how little we know about it,” says Kent McFarland, conservation biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE), which launched the project on January 1. “We can’t recognize all the risks to biodiversity in this state without a better understanding of what’s here and where it lives.”

ECHO will be featuring the Vermont Atlas of Life in the new Action Lab opening this spring. Each season the Citizen Science station in the lab will highlight a project that nature enthusiasts cam participate in to help scientists gather much needed data. For the opening of the Action Lab, ECHO is delighted to showcase a Vermont-based project.

Anyone can participate in the atlas online through iNaturalist, an online platform designed for data gathering projects like the Vermont Atlas of Life. Although the atlas may never actually identify every last species, the atlas will grow into the most complete accounting of life in Vermont.

Bumblebees respond to changing land use practices and other human-induced pressures. 
Yet we know little about the bumblebees of Vermont. Credit: K.P. McFarland
Ultimately the project will generate research-grade data to help citizens and scientists discover, track and conserve Vermont’s biodiversity. If a destructive invasive insect appears in Vermont, for example, the atlas can accept reports from anyone around the state and allow researchers to track movement of the pest. Biologists monitoring the effects of climate change use the atlas data to generate real-time distributions of rare plants and animals and how they may be declining or advancing.

Participants can submit sightings to the project with a smartphone application as well, which McFarland says will encourage more young people to observe nature. “We’re bringing the virtual world to the natural world,” he says.

VCE already manages a popular online bird inventory project called Vermont eBird and has recently helped to launched a similar butterfly project called eButterfly. The new atlas project extends this kind of citizen discovery to everything from common plants to obscure lichens, from microscopic animals called “waterbears” to agricultural pests. It is among the first attempts to document each and every plant, animal and otherwise in an entire state.

“This may seem to be an odd analogy, but we should be like big, national box-store chain with an inventory of every product in the warehouse,” says McFarland. “In fact, since we’ve launched the atlas, we’ve already discovered new locations for an endangered plant and a rare dragonfly.”

Many naturalists have noted that Pine Grosbeaks from the north have
arrived in Vermont this winter.
Credit: Bryan Pfeiffer, Wings Photography

At the Vermont Atlas Life web site participants can to enter the name of species they discover, its location and an optional photograph. The project also allows experts to corroborate or correct the on-line reports or even to identify a participant’s photo of an unidentified species.

“We often hear about biologists studying the incredible biodiversity found living on a single tree in some far-flung tropical forest,” said McFarland, “but rarely do we investigate the complete diversity here at home. Now we will.”

In the months following its launch, the atlas soon attracted support from an array of Vermont conservation organizations, including: the North Branch Nature Center, Keeping Track, Four Winds Institute, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Vital Communities, Northern Woodlands magazine and the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum.

“Over the next few years, we’re hoping everyone teams up to help discover, map and conserve our natural heritage in Vermont,” exclaimed McFarland.