Wonder – Explore – Discover
The Highlands Center, a Prescott nature center, is a hub for lifelong learning, designed to invite discovery of the wonders of nature.
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13 hours ago
Highlands Center ‘Fresh Air Moment’: What’s the Word on Worms?
“Worms are the intestines of the Earth” – Aristotle
The basic building blocks of soil are rocks, broken down over time into ever smaller pieces. But in order to be built into soil, it needs the builders. Enter the earthworm!
EVERYBODY knows earthworms. Most of us have known them since childhood. Earthworms dramatically alter soil structure, water movement, nutrient dynamics, and plant growth. But what they REALLY do best is incorporate large amounts of organic matter and microorganisms into the soil.
How you ask? Many people think earthworms eat dirt. This is true….. but not for all of them. Turns out that earthworms that live closer to the surface eat more organic material. The earthworms that live deeper in the ground are the ones eating the dirt. All of the worms get their nutrition from the microorganisms that live in and on both of these materials. As stuff passes through their intestines, it picks up more microorganisms. And then?....
They poop it out! Many more microorganisms are present in their feces or ‘casts’ than in the organic matter that they consume. Earthworms generate tons of casts per acre each year, dramatically altering soil structure.
This process facilitates the cycling of nutrients and their conversion into forms more readily taken up by plants.
Check out this cool video of worms doing their thing! www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw677lYLGiI ... See MoreSee Less
My Australian tree frog would eat those.
1 day ago
Today’s “Breath of Fresh Air” features the moon, and how to track the phases of the moon for the month of April. Have you ever wondered why the moon has phases?
The moon has phases as it orbits earth, causing the position we see illuminated to change from phase to phase. At the new moon phase, the moon is so close to the sun in the sky that the side facing earth is not illuminated at all. After the new moon, the sunlit portion of the moon is increasing, but it is still less than half, so it is called a waxing crescent. Then after the first quarter, the sunlit portion is still increasing, and it is more than half so it is called a waxing gibbous. Then the moon will be fully illuminated, thus being a full moon. After the full moon has occurred, the light cast on the moon will begin to continually decrease, forming a waning gibbous. The third quarter of the moon will then occur and will wane until the moon is completely gone, and new moon will be visible in the night sky.
For month of April, a member of the Highlands Center’s education team will be tracking the moon with a calendar that they made. To track the moon phases just like the Highlands Center, print a calendar or make your own. Once a week, a member of the education team will be sharing the calendar as they track the phases of the moon. This activity is a really fun way to understand the moon's phases and can be done right from your porch, balcony, or just the front steps. Enjoy and do not forget to take look at the moon every night! ... See MoreSee Less
Jeanette Castro something fun for the kids to do every night
Stacie Danny Kopa
Butt where's the Waxing mOOn????
2 days ago
Challenge: Who can spot the first water strider of the warmer seasons in the Central Highlands?
Check out today's Fresh Air Moment to see one of the reasons why these macroinvertebrates are so special. www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-Eto3Y17SI ... See MoreSee Less
Spring bird migration is underway! We'd love to see photos of the birds you have been able to spot. Please share your images with us in the comment section below! ... See MoreSee Less
For me birds are hard to capture in a photograph. I love these pictures. ♥️
Are you able to identify this bird, Carol?
Fresh Air Moment: What is the scoop on soil?
There are 3 main components to think about with soil: texture, structure, and color.
The grains and particles that makeup soil are categorized into three groups by size: sand, silt, and clay. Sand particles are the largest and clay particles the smallest. Most soils are a combination of the three. The percentages of sand, silt, and clay are what give soil its texture.
Soil structure is the arrangement of soil particles into small clumps, called ‘peds’… or dirt clods. Peds have various shapes depending on their ingredients and the conditions under which the peds formed. Getting wet and drying out, freezing and thawing, even people walking on or farming the soil affects the shapes of peds.
Color can tell us about the soil’s mineral content. For example, soils high in iron are deep orange-brown to yellowish-brown. Those with lots of organic material are dark brown or black - in fact, organic matter masks all other coloring agents.
At home, you can grab a plate and a magnifying glass and go outside in your yard. Put some soil on the plate and take a look at it closely. Note the texture and color. Gritty means lots of sand, smooth mean more clay. Add a little water to it and see what changes. Compare it to commercially prepared potting soil. What is the same/different? Why do you think potting soil has the texture, structure, and color that it does?
William Blake said that you could '..see the world in a grain of sand..' There is certainly a lot to see in one small handful of soil.
Photo credit: LSU Ag Center ... See MoreSee Less
6 days ago
Do you ever find yourself wondering if a tree could give advice, what kind of advice would it give to you? Well here are some words of wisdom written by author Ilan Shamir. Take a moment and enjoy this breath of fresh air from our education team here at the Highlands Center.
Advice from a Tree
Written by Ilan Shamir
Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of your own true nature
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons for each yields its own abundance
The energy and birth of spring
The growth and contentment of summer
The wisdom to let go like leaves in the fall
To rest and quiet renewal of winter
Feel the wind and the sun and delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from good things in life
Simple pleasures: earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view
The picture below features a Ponderosa Pine, next time you come to the Highlands Center, be sure to look up at one, give it a hug, and inhale the sweet smell of the bark. ... See MoreSee Less
"We know more about the celestial bodies overhead than we do the soil underfoot" - Leonardi Da Vinci
"Dirt don't hurt!" - Jessie, Education Coordinator for HCNH
It is so easy to forget that right underfoot is a whole world, complete with neighborhoods, methods of communication, transportation routes, weather, and an endless variety of inhabitants, with overlapping communities.
Make a list of all you know about soil and be ready to add more facts, as Fresh Air Moments continue! ... See MoreSee Less
Photos from U.S. Forest Service - Prescott National Forest's post ... See MoreSee Less
Today's Fresh Air Moment builds on another amazing property of water. Check the comment section for more about the science of ice, as well as some funny pictures. www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPfxTkDAUxo ... See MoreSee Less
Outstanding presentation Sarah! I learned of the power of frost wedging when studying geology in college eons ago.
The dog Capuchin ate the snowman's head.
Fresh Air Moment: The World of a Critter. For today's Fresh Air Moment we recommend an imaginative minute of mindfulness. Take a short hike, find a small place to sit and stare at the landscape, or look out your window. Observe any animals, geological features, habitats, shelter, water and food sources nearby. Imagine you are in that area as a Collared Peccary, snake, rabbit, ant - any animal you can think of! Remember to open up your senses. Collared Peccaries have poor eyesight, so smell the environment. Snakes can feel vibrations, so place your hands on the ground. Jackrabbits have great hearing, close your eyes and listen. How does that change your perspective of the area? What was insignificant that is now exciting, scary, large, or fascinating?
Post your images or interpretations of this image below! I see a squirrel's playground or an ant's extreme challenge. What do you see? ... See MoreSee Less
If you enjoyed this activity check out Forest Bathing with Jackie Kuang at the Highlands Center this Summer!
A Breath of Fresh Air Moment from the education staff here at the Highlands Center: Have you ever wondered how water travels through leaves? Let’s find out with these easy steps:
• Step 1 - Take a short walk outside, and pick three to five leaves from different trees. Try your best to collect leaves of different shapes and sizes.
• Step 2 - Bring your leaves inside. Take one or two leaves and snip off the bottom of each stem.
• Step 3 - Take those leaves and place each one in a glass with water. The glass should be filled about 2/3 of the way up.
• Step 4 - Take red, blue, or orange food coloring, and add it to the glass of water. The darker the water the better chance you have at seeing the changes in the leaves.
• Step 5 - Time to observe: place your glass on your kitchen counter or an area where it will not be moved. Each day, record any changes you see. If you happen to have a magnifying glass, take a close look at the veins of the leaf, and record what you see.
• Step 6 - For the next couple of days continue to record your observations on what is happening to your leaf.
*** An observation to look for with your leaf: the food coloring moving slowly through the leaf.
How is this happening? The colored water is moving through the xylem tubes of the leaf. The xylem tubes of plants transport water and minerals up from the roots through the entire plant.
Feel free to share pictures of your leaves in the comment section below. ... See MoreSee Less
Great experiment.... give it a try and take pictures. Share
Fun fact! Some giant redwoods have "better" water pressure than some sky scrapers.
A Fresh Air Moment for the First Day of Spring
With some snow and mud present, now is a great time to see what has been visiting just outside your home or along one of your favorite trails. Just look for tracks!
Tracks are the footprints animals leave behind and they are best seen in mud, sand and snow. You can most likely determine the animal by asking these questions-
Are there claw marks? How many toes are there?
What is the size? How close are the paw prints to each other (if there are multiple)?
Look around outside and take photos of the tracks you find and post them in the comments below! Here is a photo of a track found at the Highlands Center after a rainy day. Who do you think made it? ... See MoreSee Less
The Highlands Center for Natural History
Prescott Nature Center
In our classroom without walls you will discover Ponderosa Pine covered mountains, deeply shaded riparian habitats, chaparral and woodland, remarkable geologic formations, and amazing vistas, in addition to all manner of forest inhabitants. With educational programming, hiking trails, and a botanic garden, our Prescott nature center has activities for all ages.
1375 S. Walker Road, Prescott, AZ 86303
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