It’s Made from Elephant WHAT??

September 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm Leave a comment

City ScientistsWith school now officially back in session, the Museum’s fall programs are starting back up, and a good portion of my time is devoted to preparing for the new year of City Scientists. City Scientists is a joint effort of Fernbank Museum and Atlanta Public Schools to offer after-school programs to Title 1 APS Elementary Schools. 3rd-5th graders spend two weeks learning about different aspects of science through games, activities, and our live animal ambassadors. The program concludes with a visit to Fernbank Museum, snacks under the dinosaurs, and a few surprises. City Scientists is fully funded by grants, so there is no cost to the schools—all they have to provide for us are the (hopefully) eager students.

The program is popular, and we often times get repeat students, so it’s important to rotate the topics that we teach. One new topic that I’m attempting this year is conservation:

“Can anyone tell me what ‘conservation’ is? … No? … Jasmine, didn’t you tell me that conservation is your favorite science topic? … Oh, but you don’t know what it is? … Okay…”

Oh well, plenty of blank canvases to work with! Two hours later, the students had learned all about “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” They could tell you what conservation means, what we can conserve, and why we need to conserve. A recycling relay race taught the students that so much more can be recycled than they originally thought. Bookmarks made of elephant scat showed them that so much more can be reused than you might ever want! An activity about saving water and electricity around the house helped to bring the topic to a more familiar place—a place of, “Hey, I can do that!”

We ended the day by making beads out of old magazines- beads which will go on their ‘necklaces of knowledge’ at the end of the program. I thought I had just about gotten through to them when:

“Ms. Becky, where is the trash can? … Paper … Why shouldn’t I throw it away? … Oh, yeah, I guess that can be recycled!”

So close. I packed up for the day and headed back to the museum. Upon arriving the next day, I started unloading the boxes of supplies while waiting for the students. As they were coming into the class room, one boy approached me:

“Ms. Becky, I unplugged my cell phone charger last night—did you?”

With a tear in my eye, I had the single thought… “There’s hope!”

Becky Facer, Environmental Education Specialist

Editor’s note: Did you know? You can help support programs like City Scientists by making a contribution to Fernbank’s Annual Fund. Visit for details.


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Anticipation Ch Ch Ch Changes!

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At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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