Monday, October 21, 2013

Nature Experienceship - Wild Edibles with Tom Smith

Wild Edibles Nature Experienceship - October 19, 2013

The Wild Edibles Nature Experienceship with Tom Smith was an absolute flavorful blast. We ate so many plants and fruits on campus. The group who take advantage on this wonderful opportunity consisted of 38 brave souls. Each willing to eat whatever Mr. Smith said was edible. We also learned from Mr. Smith, "Just because something is edible does not mean it's palatable." To put it simply, it can still be yucky even though you can eat it. We ate leaves from pretty pansies to oregon grapes, and even yew berries. We learned that everything is toxic when it comes to the yew berry plant except the yew berry fruit itself. Just make sure you spit out the seed after enjoying the delicious and sticky tiny red fruit. After wandering on campus for a few hours discovering all of the cool vegetation we could safely consume, we returned to the kitchen in the Joseph Fielding Smith Building kitchen in the basement and prepared the many things we collected to eat. Along with some already prepared foods by Mrs. Smith, we made and devoured the incredible food we found on campus. It was a great time for all. Make sure you "Like" the Bean Museum Facebook page and frequently check the Bean Website for upcoming activities at the Museum. 

Michael, museum educator

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nature Experienceship - Aspen Forests with Sam St. Clair

There’s no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than in Utah’s beautiful mountains, especially at this time of year! Dr. Sam St. Clair hosted the Aspens Nature Experienceship last weekend, and if you weren’t there… you missed out! The drive up Alpine Loop was absolutely breathtaking. The fall colors are just incredible! Dr. St. Clair helped us expand our appreciation of these stunning forests with some amazing facts about aspen trees. Aspen trees are actually considered the largest living organism, because a grove of aspen trees is actually just one tree! Who knew? The reason why aspens have white trunks is because their trunks are covered in a white powder to act as a sunscreen for the tree. The shorter aspens have very bitter tasting leaves, so that elk and deer won’t eat them. But as you get higher up the tree, the leaves are less bitter tasting, because the animals can’t reach that high. (Smart move, aspen trees) We even talked about how forest fires aren’t all bad... in fact, they’re necessary to maintain the health of a forest over time! (But what about Smokey?! I guess bears can’t be trusted after all…) We then moved up the trail to talk about some evergreen trees that live in parasitic relationship with the aspens. The trunks grow right next to each other, practically intertwined with each other, and the evergreen steals the nutrients from the aspen. Since conifers have such soft trunks, bugs can often burrow into the trunks and feed off of the tree. To protect themselves, conifers have developed little pockets of sap that will explode and kill the bug if it tries to burrow in! Next time you see a soft-trunked evergreen tree, try pressing on one of the bubbles on the trunk and you can squirt your friends with sap! This Nature Experienceship was an amazing adventure, and everyone hung on to Dr. St. Clair’s every word. He is so passionate about what he does, you can’t help but feel the same way too! Join us next time on a Nature Experienceship, and see for yourself! 

Hailey, Museum Educator

This picture represents the parasitic relationship between the evergreen and the aspen. 

In this picture with Dr. St. Clair, you can see how a tree trunk that is bent over has sent up a branch vertically to get more sunlight.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nature Experienceship - Insects with Shawn Clark

We had a great time during our insect adventure with Dr. Shawn Clark on Saturday, September 28, 2013.  We visited the area around Mill Race Creek, which is full of vegetation such as phragmites and bulrush.  In this amazing ecosystem we were able to go out and catch insects on our own, using nets provided by Dr. Clark.  After catching the insects, Dr. Clark identified several of the insects found and many of our patrons were able to start their own collections.  This trip was a lot of fun as we were able to go into the ecosystem itself, charging through the thick reeds, sweeping back and forth to capture new interesting insects.  Dr. Clark's love of insects was shared by many present, bringing lots of fun to the trip.  This is a great way to learn more about our small friends who help keep this world running and we hope you will be able to join us again in the winter and even start your own insect collection!

Heather Lee, museum educator