Family Science

Autumn at the Academy

by rockprogram on Nov. 9th, 2011 No Comments
Trees in Golden Gate Park in the Japanese Tea Garden
Trees in Golden Gate Park

As I look out the window at Golden Gate Park, right now I see a whole lot of green. Not very many trees seem to be losing their leaves. Autumn in San Francisco is quite different from other parts of the country. Our Mediterranean climate and fall-winter rainy season means many plants actually start growing or continue growing when the rains start back up. But we don’t let a lack of leaf-less trees get us down. Here are some recommendations for fun fall activities for the whole family.


Now at the Academy

Sharktober Extended!

Sharktober is now extended until November 20th. See our earlier post for full details of the shark-tastic fun that still awaits you. Dun dun. Dun dun. Plus if you’re not yet ready to say goodbye to Halloween, stop by the Naturalist Center to do their Creepy Crawly Scavenger Hunt. You’ll explore the naturalist center trying to find specimens to draw that are creepy or crawly, and you get a prize when you finish!


Take Autumn Further at Home

Corn Jewels

Dried corn on the cob can be found at almost any grocery store right now. Most people use it whole, as a decoration. But even more fun for little fingers is turning it into corn jewels. Half the fun is picking the kernals off the cob and watching a pile of jewels build up. First off, act like scientists and see if you can find any differences between the kernals. Sort them according to the differences that you find. Then you can use these to make jewelry, a collage or put them in a jar to make a pretty shaker.

Tree Discovery

Since the weather is so nice these days, why not start a tree journal? Go out once a month, maybe the 2nd Saturday, and draw your favorite tree together. Note any wildlife you find in or on the tree, plus any flowers, cones, fruits, or changes in leaf color. If you like counting, pick a low branch and count the parts: number of leaves or twigs that you can see. Make sure to write the counts on your sheet of paper. Plus include the date, what the weather’s been like, maybe even the way the tree smells.

While you’re outside, why not pick up some leaves? You might like to read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert together while you sit under a tree. When you get home, you can make a fantastic leaf-person, maybe even a whole family! Here are some great ideas to take your learning even further.

We’re Proud of Our Diversion Rate

Diversion Rate? It’s the amount of trash that you divert from landfills by composting or recycling. In September we managed a whopping 75% diversion rate here at the Academy and we are super proud of ourselves. When we re-opened 3 years ago, our diversion rate was 30%. Why not try to calculate your family’s diversion rate for a month? The formula is:

[(recycling volume+compost volume)/(total volume)]x100%

I even know a teacher who has a tax on any rubbish her class sends to the landfill. She said she’s had amazing success with her students ingenuity at reusing and recycling. Perhaps there is a reward system you could put in place with your family if they reduce their diversion rate? Here’s an interesting story about kids and diversion rates from Orange, Massachusetts.


Coming This Month at the Academy

Tis the Season starts November 22nd

We’ll give you further details closer to the date, but we’re excited about it. Some of your favorites from last year will be returning, including the reindeer and the snow in the piazza. And we’ll have new exhibits too. Have you ever wondered about the birds in the song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Now you can learn more. Plus find out about the spices that are such an integral part of making pumpkin pie taste so good. The Early Explorers Cove will have self-guided activities on their theme table that relate to our exhibits for our youngest explorers.

image credit: ayelienne

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