Thursday, May 26, 2011

Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

If a summer nature journal sounds good to you but the terrarium is not your thing, how about a bird feeder made from a 2-liter soda bottle? You can recycle and help your feathered friends at the same time!

Gather your materials - and an adult for the cutting part! - and you're good to go.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Nature Journals

A summer nature journal is the perfect way to sharpen your observation skills while keeping your writing sharp. The only thing you need is a journal and a project. How about micro terrarium? They're easy to make and fun to observe.

All you need is a small container, some small plants like clover from the yard or a micro variety of a plant from the local nursery. You can even grow herbs if you'd like. Next you'll need a small container that's attractive and easy to seal. The last thing you'll need is gravel, sand, and soil for your plants.

Not sure how to get it all together? Here's a video from that will take you through it step-by-step.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Snapping Turtle Science

According to the CritterZone, the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is the largest type of freshwater turtle in the United States. They have an upper shell that is not large enough for them to withdraw inside completely. They have large nails on all four feet and a "long, fleshy tail, with an alligator-like crest."

Their powerful jaws have sharp edges. They move so quickly when they attack that it's difficult to trace the motion - as I can attest to from having startled the turtle I saw this week. A snapping turtle of the size in my photos and adventure could easily remove my little finger.

Evidently, they come out of the water to mate. I hope to see some babies in the near future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Video: Snapping Turtle Strolling

I was nearly home today when I saw this big old snapping turtle making its way into the street. I believe the least we can do is make sure these creatures make it safely so I stopped to make sure he made it across. While I was at it I made a video and snapped a few pictures. I also startled the poor guy.

Despite all that, he made it safe and sound to a comfortable spot. Maybe he's out to mate? Maybe we'll see some baby snappers making their way into the pond in a few months?

I'll let you know!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Amazing Day at Air & Space

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. John Anderson, Curator of Aerodynamics at the National Air & Space Museum. Dr. Anderson was kind enough to give me a walk-through on the workings of the balances used by the Wright brothers in their wind tunnel. He was thorough and patient in his explanation, stopping along the way to answer related questions I had for my book for Springer Verlag. When we were done, we went to view the airfoils on display and satisfy our mutual curiosity on one point.

It was an amazing meeting and I appreciated the time he took to go through the misinterpretations on the Wrights' part that led to their conclusion that Lilienthal's data was inaccurate. Dr. Anderson went through each mis-step and accounted for the 30% discrepancy in lift they experienced.

It's not often that one has the opportunity to sit down and discuss a topic with the person who has written so extensively on the subject. It's certainly a meeting I will never forget.