Tag Archives: education

ELC Progress: Insulation, Design, and Thawing Grounds

February has brought more progress to the Environmental Learning Center job site, which has been humming with activity amid the storms and gray skies of winter. With just about three months to go until the grand opening, there is lots happening both inside and out.

The most noticeable progress has been on the outside of the building, with the installation of a beautiful combination of cedar and aluminum siding. Our staff loves the “rustic red” color against the beauty of the wood.

The Chapman Construction/Design crew had some natural challenges to face when we went through a thaw. Got to admire their creativity in finding pathways across the mud!

Indoors, the major milestone of the month was the completion of the insulation. In addition to all the rigid foam that lines the walls, ceiling, and foundation, pounds and pounds of cellulose insulation (made from recycled newspaper) was blown into the ceiling and wall cavities. It took about a week to get all the gaps filled up, but now we’re confident that this building will be our most energy efficient ever!

Evaluating whether the machines have blown in the right amount of cellulose is an interesting business. Too much insulation and the walls might bow from the weight; too little and there would be gaps where cold air could seep through. It turns out that the best method is fairly low tech: Bob the site supervisor built a one-cubic-foot box and filled it with insulation to the specified weight. First you pat the box to get a feel for (literally) how much the right amount should compress…

…then you pat the walls or ceilings to judge whether they match the box. It may seem like an inexact science, but apparently our sense of touch is good enough to be fairly accurate in this case! Mass Audubon’s Capital Projects Manager Stu thinks they got it just right.

Once the insulation was complete, it is time for the walls. Sheetrock is starting to appear along the hallways and rooms, further defining the spaces where so much great educational ideas will take shape.

In parallel, the behind-the-scenes plumbing and electrical work has been finishing up, ready to be walled in but still appreciated for its tidy and functional construction.

Finally, our design team has been busy making decisions on a weekly basis on the colors, textures, and finishes that will give the space the right ambiance. We’ve settled on a very natural color palette that reflects both the landscape of Drumlin Farm and our farm-y roots, with some practical aspects like an entrance mat that kind of matches the dirt that we know will be on our boots from our time in the pastures and fields.

Look for more updates coming soon. If you would like to learn more about the project, or get involved yourself, we invite you to learn more at massaudubon.org/environmental-learning-center.

 

Best,

Renata Pomponi

Sanctuary Director

Drumlin Farm Friday to Friday: September 9–23

Fall is fast approaching. We’re already noticing some leaves turning, and baby snapping turtles are making their way to our ponds. With the end of summer comes the start of school, and the urge to get outdoors and enjoy the cooler air and brilliant fall hues.

Here’s how you can soak up the new season:

Wednesday, September 14

Parents Outdoors! | Adult+Backpack Baby | 9:30 am
Get outside with your child and connect with other like-minded parents. We will walk and talk and learn about the world we live in and how truly fascinating it is.

Thursday, September 15

Fall Hawk Migration: Lecture| Adult | 7 pm
Hawks provide a number of identification challenges. Luckily, we can use general shape and behavior to categorize types of hawks. Field trip to follow on Saturday, September 17.

Friday, September 16

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Kimchi at Home | Ages 12+ | 7 pm
Learn how Asian communities preserve their food using salt, garlic, and spices, sample our Drumlin Farm kimchi, and take home your own fermented project to carry you through the winter months.

Saturday, September 17

Fall Hawk Migration: Field Trip | Adult | 8 am
We’ll travel to the hawk watch on 2290-ft Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Thursday lecture recommended.

Teen Birders: Hawk Watch Birding Weekend | Teens | 9 am
We’ll head to Mt. Watatic in New Hampshire for a hike and hawk watch, then head to Wildwood for a canoe trip, birding, dinner, and smore’s. On Sunday, we’ll drive to Pack Monadnock for a hawk watch with New Hampshire Audubon.

Naturalist Walk | Adult | 1 pm
These excursions will focus on observing, exploring, and appreciating the world around us. Email tpinney@massaudubon.org to be added to the mailing list and receive details on each walk!

Sunday, September 18

Sunday Morning Birds at Drumlin | Adult | 8 am
Drumlin Farm has a great variety of habitats and gets a mix of migrants and residents every fall. These walks are ideal for beginning birders.

Thursday, September 22

Thursday Morning Bird Walk | Adult | 7:30 am
Join us as we explore Drumlin Farm and other local hotspots in search of fall migrants.

Friday, September 23

Apple Honey Harvest | Family | 3:30 pm
Visit the bees and taste delicious honey-and-apple combinations! We’ll share stories and songs, then finish the afternoon with apple crafts.

Teen Night at Drumlin Farm | Teen | 7 pm
Explore Drumlin Farm’s trails by moonlight, stargaze at the top of the drumlin, and listen for owls and night creatures. Learn about natural history, play games, listen to music, and bring a snack to share by the fireside.

For all of our upcoming programs, visit massaudubon.org/drumlinprograms.

Our Farm Fields are Living Classrooms

Post by Drumlin Farm Food and Farm Educator Emma Scudder

If you’ve ever ventured down to Boyce Field, home of Drumlin’s crops operation, then you know the beauty of the place. As far as the eye can see are rows and rows of vegetable plants. (Maybe I’m biased as a farm educator, but to me there is no better sight!) However, beyond affording a beautiful view, Boyce Field serves the equally important but lesser known role of classroom for our many visitors, students, and campers.

As an outdoor learning space, Boyce Field is a dynamic place where our school programplanting participants experience hands-on learning that’s connected to classroom curriculum and science standards. When schools sign up for field trips, teachers often give us information about the concepts they are studying, where they are in their unit, and the main curriculum connections they hope to make. With this information, we’re able to assign students a chore that’s not only tied to classroom learning but is also meaningful work.

weedoutThis past May, students learned about plant lifecycles while helping to de-bud first-year strawberry plants. (In order to encourage healthy growth in newly panted strawberries, we don’t harvest fruit; instead we remove their blossoms so they will not produce fruit.) Before we began, we reviewed the phases of the plant life cycle and how pulling flowers off of the young plants allows them invest their energy into growing strong roots and leaves, so that next year we can harvest delicious fruit from healthy, hearty crops. Students were able to observe strawberry plants that were in their second season, which were noticeably fuller and heavy with strawberries, and make the connection that the work they did will have a long-term positive impact on the plants and our farm.

Of course the learning doesn’t stop at the end of the school year: In the summer, campers have potatobeetlethe opportunity to delve into the crops operation at the busiest and most exciting time of the season. Recently, one group of campers, whose session focused on sustainable farming, spent an afternoon learning about and practicing sustainable pest control, picking Colorado potato beetles off of potato plants. As we went, campers were asked to think about how the practices we use at Drumlin are different from some other farms, where chemical pesticides are sprayed, and the environmental impacts of both methods. The afternoon flew by as campers explored issues related to our food system.

An added bonus: All this learning happens to be a big help to our crops operation! So far this season, program participants have contributed 65 hours of meaningful work, all while engaging in scientific learning in ways they never could have in an indoor classroom.