Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Ecology Lab at RMSC

Second Saturdays are the perfect time to get out to the Roper Mountain Science Center, located right here in Greenville! On the second Saturday of select months, the learning spaces throughout the science center are open to the public, offering visitors an opportunity to enjoy experiences similar to those which engage students during the weekday lessons held in the center’s classrooms and labs. The Living History Farm, the Planetarium & Observatory, the Symmes Hall of Science... In addition to special activities geared towards that Saturday’s topic, there are also plenty of resident animals to meet and exhibits to explore - and if you’re a RMSC member, it’s free!

Red Eared Slider

Our favorite summer stop on Second Saturdays is Harrison Hall of Natural Sciences, and during the recent Blueberry Festival we spent some time exploring the Ecology Lab. Located right next door to the Marine Lab, the Ecology Lab showcases South Carolina habitats from the mountains to the sea. Oriented like a classroom, the center of the room is filled with long tables and chairs; on the Second Saturdays these are often filled with crafts and activities. The Butterfly Adventure was in its final day, and so thousands of butterflies had been created at one station to form an enormous hanging work of art that fluttered in a corner.

Four large “Living Habitats” line the far wall: a Mountain Trout Stream, a Beaver/Turtle Pond, a Cypress Swamp (with alligator), and a Salt Marsh. Murals, faux rock work, and aquariums with live animals & plants showcase these habitats, while a fifth terrarium with carnivorous plants highlights our Carolina Bay habitat.

Along one end of the lab is a mural of a forest, and a large window overlooking the pollinator garden which is often buzzing with the resident bees. A bench faces the window, offering a quiet place for observation.This is also where the live indoor honeybee hive is located; this brand new hive was installed in June of this year as an Eagle Scout project, replacing an older display without the convenient feeding station of the new one. The full pollen sacs on legs of bees returning from their foraging were clearly visible, and we watched in fascination as they performed the waggle dance, the figure-eights that instruct the rest of the hive where to find a food source. 

Meanwhile the other end of the lab has the Invertebrate Zoo, which displays native and tropical invertebrates. On Second Saturdays there is usually a volunteer, or two, who are more than willing to help answer any questions visitors may have; in our case it was concerning large snakes of the Upstate…

With the ‘don’t touch’ policy many science museums enforce with their exhibits, it is wonderful to see the hands-on approach that Roper Mountain takes with the Ecology Lab. In addition to the ‘touchable’ aspect of the Living Habitats (small doors to open to find answers to questions, and models of various animals) the Lab has an “In Touch with Nature Table” that allows kids (and adults!) to hold real artifacts; a snake skin, turtle shells, pieces of coral and seashells were scattered amongst beaver-gnawed branches, pine cones and various other objects found in the great outdoors.

Soon enough the kids had their fill and we headed outdoors to see what was new in the butterfly garden. The Living History farm also beckoned, but it was good to know that on such a scorching hot day we could always return to the cool labs of the Harrison Hall of Natural Science. For more information on the Second Saturday events at Roper Mountain Science Center (the next ones are scheduled in October and November) please visit the RMSC website, which will also have admissions info and hours. Remember, if you’re a member not only do you get free admission to Second Saturdays and Starry Nights, but you also gain admission to over 300 science centers and museums worldwide – for membership info click here and join the RMSC community today!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...