Monday, December 19, 2011

"Not A Creature Was Stirring..."

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

"Not A Creature Was Stirring..."

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even--- a squirrel, a snake, a spider, a grasshopper. Well, as we all know, the peace of Christmas can often be disturbed in unexpected ways.

Take the movie “Christmas Vacation.” Can anyone forget the scene when the squirrel jumps out of the Christmas tree and into Chevy Chase’s living room? Later in the movie a cat chews on an electrical wire and sets itself and the tree on fire. Is it slapstick comedy or reality?

One Christmas afternoon years ago, I was sipping my tea and enjoying a tranquil moment in my living room, when I was startled by something flying through the air. Before I could move, I was again surprised by a fluttering sound and a second object shooting from the Christmas tree. To my amazement, there were two grasshoppers staring at me from the carpet. The warmth of the house had convinced them that it was time to emerge from their home.

My sister had a similar experience when she got up one morning, after having decorated her tree, and found spiders crawling around the bottom of the tree. Every morning, she found the same invasion of the spiders going on. The tree was full of spider eggs. I still laugh at the thought of her jumping around the tree in her pajamas killing the spiders but refusing to take the tree down until Christmas night.

A family in Zebulon, NC recently discovered a corn snake in their newly erected artificial tree which had been stored in the garage. Their six year old discovered the foot long visitor when she was turning on the tree. Although the non-venomous snake won the hearts of the children, the mother wanted nothing to do with him. “Tinsel” as the kids named him now lives in the woods near their house.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the tree is real or fake, creatures will inhabit it. A little precaution is in order when bringing the tree into your house, although rarely would these accidental visitors be harmful to you or your home.

A vigorous shaking will likely loosen any inhabitants. Then inspect it visually for egg casings, etc. Aerosol inspect sprays are flammable and should not be sprayed on the Christmas tree. Most trees are free of invaders or the ones that are there are unnoticeable.

Pine bark adelgids are harmless and sedentary and do not leave the tree. Aphids are sometimes found, but they are usually host specific and will not feed on your houseplants. Sometimes certain bark beetles bore into the trunk of a tree, but they are not a threat because the wood in a home is too dry to attract them. Other creature such as mites, praying mantis, scale insects and spiders are other harmless insects which might be found on your tree.

Here’s hoping all of your holiday guests come with invitations!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Kitchen is a Perfect Laboratory

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

The Kitchen is a Perfect Laboratory

When my daughter called me and had some questions about how to boil an egg, I thought I had failed in an important area of mothering. Then my other daughter came to visit us in October and requested that I cook our traditional Christmas meal so that she could observe and take detailed notes. Her in-laws were coming for the Thanksgiving feast, and she was terrified.

Of course, I had taken for granted that they had been observing my performance in the kitchen and had learned everything they needed to know over the years. In reflection, I realized that my lessons in the kitchen should have been more deliberate. In many homes, holiday traditions begin in the kitchen. It is a perfect place to teach children from two to twenty about the art and science of cooking.

Just a few of the science topics that can be explored include chemistry, measurement, nutrition, and changing solids into liquids. Other skills include sequencing, safety, reading, working together, and organizing. The history of foods, family stories about recipes, social skills, and sharing with others are also important subjects that can be taught.

Safety is a vital topic to teach children and should include how to keep all of the surfaces sanitary as well as how to use the various culinary tools. Other things like using sturdy stools when reaching for things, cooking on the back burners, plugging in appliances, and turning the pot handles to the back of the stove are important techniques to teach. Just being careful in the kitchen should be emphasized.

So many math skills can be reinforced and taught while cooking. Measuring dry and liquid ingredients, doubling quantities, timing the process, and even shopping for the food provide invaluable opportunities to teach important math skills.

Making candy and using sugar and salt is the time to discuss crystals and how they change in the cooking process. The chemical reactions of baking powder and yeast are demonstrated in making bread. When working with eggs, the proteins change as they are beaten and mixed. Pickling is an ancient technique designed to reduce spoilage using vinegar, which kills bacteria or salt brine, thereby increasing fermentation, which promotes good bacteria.

Seasonings are an interesting study about cultures around the world and how they change the way food is experienced. The way the human nose and taste buds work together to provide the enjoyment of food is a fascinating topic.

So much of who we are and how we became what we are can be traced through our history of food. Most families’ food traditions are a blend several cultures. Gathering around the table is a way of connecting with each other. The sharing and brotherhood that is expressed during a meal can be experienced in few other places. While you are doing your holiday cooking, invite a child to explore the science of it with you.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Predictions are Risky Business

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Predictions are Risky Business

Since time began predicting the weather has probably been a favorite pastime for humans. I can even imagine a caveman peering out his cave door and looking up to the sky and trying to estimate if it would be a good day for a hunt. Maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but weather predictions must have been among the first scientific observations.

Over time, these predictions became weather proverbs or sayings which were passed from one generation to another until they became accepted as fact. Many of those sayings that we hear today actually came from the area near the Mediterranean Sea and were even recorded in the Old Testament. Some proverbs often repeated in the Midwest actually originated in Germany and Sweden. Even Shakespeare wrote “If feet swell, the change will be to the south, and the same thing is the sign of a hurricane.” Wait a minute, Shakespeare?

The problem with depending on proverb is that they are not always wrong, but they are also not always right in all times and in all places. Many of them are not based on any kind of scientific fact and are founded instead on strange relationships---wolves and crops, sky colors and bad results, holy days and weather, cats and dogs and cattle, spiders and smoke, crickets and frogs, or rheumatism and rain.

But all of this concern about scientific accuracy does not detract from the fact that they are fun to consider and repeat. Many of them actually do have some basis in scientific principles.

Take the often repeated, “red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning,” which has to do with dust particles made more visible by the approaching high pressure. Others with scientific basis are “clear moon, frost soon” and “halo around the sun or moon, rain or snow soon.” Another intriguing saying is “a sunny shower won’t last an hour” and everyone knows that when that happens that “the devil is beating his wife.”

During this time of year, we look for signs that might tell us about the severity of the winter. I’ve heard people remark on the fact that the juniper, holly and other trees with berries are full this year indicating that the winter will be harsh. The fur coats of certain animals and the thickness of their tails supposedly indicates low temperatures for the season.

The indicators from the animals are some of the most fascinating. “If the bull leads the cows to pasture, expect rain; if the cows precede the bull, the weather will be uncertain.” “Cats scratch a post before wind; wash their faces before rain; and sit with backs to the fire before snow.” “Pigs gather leaves and straw before a storm.” “The louder the frog, the more the rain,” must lead to the descriptive phrase, “frog strangler.”

Whatever their origin and accuracy, these proverbs are part of the culture.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Invasion of the Fruit Fly

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Invasion of the Fruit Fly

It’s the little things that matter in life sometimes. I can’t solve the problems of the world, but I do expect to control who lives in my house. For the past two years, I’ve had a pest problem. It’s not the two-legged or four-legged variety. It’s the common fruit fly, scientifically known as drosophila melanogaster.

In my quest for knowledge about my enemy, I found both plants and animals on the North Carolina list of invasive things. The familiar kudzu, cocklebur, horseweed, and even mint, were among the plants needing control. Beaver, alligators, fire ants, and starlings are on the list of animals in our area that are of recent concern.

In fact, fruit flies might not be invasive, but they are obnoxious to most people who find them in their homes. One hundred years ago people who were innocent of the concept of a fly even having a life cycle, thought that they just “spontaneously generated” if they left a piece of meat lying around. It wasn’t until the 17th century that an Italian doctor experimented and found out the truth.

The little creatures prefer ripe fruit which contains the ingredients needed for their diet. Once they are established in your house, they can survive on a variety of nutrients like sludge in the sink drain, a sour mop, damp flour, or food fermenting in crevices. They can then patiently wait for you to bring more fruit into the house so that they can continue their productive life cycle.

So how do you rid yourself of the pests and hope that they live happily ever after somewhere else? The internet offers many home remedies, and you can even buy fruit fly traps at hardware and home and garden stores. As an experiment, we set up two types of traps at our house using apple cider vinegar, dish washing detergent, and different types of covers. Both versions did an excellent job of trapping the vermin. Then they landed in the mixture and died.

Scientists have used the fruit flies for years as substitutes for humans in genetic research. They are useful because they reproduce so quickly that many generations can be studied in a short time. Their genome has been completely mapped, and they have been used in the study of human diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

They have also been used to study how space travel affects genes. It is thought that the gravitational forces that animals are exposed to in space travel may cause genes to express themselves by commanding cells to make different proteins. Ultimately, this activity might cause changes in many cells in the body. The history of the use of fruit flies by scientists is fascinating.

The moral to my story could be that we need to be careful how we judge things. What is a pest to you might be the key to finding solutions for life in the future. Who knew?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Falling Leaves

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Falling Leaves

In 1982, Dr. Leo Buscalgia published one of my favorite books, THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF. I’ve read it countless times and always find new revelations for living. In this simply written allegory about the balance between life and death, Dr. Love, as he was sometimes called, touched hearts in a magnificent way.

On the surface, it is a book about the life cycle of a leaf from its early days as a bud to its falling to the ground. It is a splendid tale of the circle of life and its purpose. Freddie and his wise friend Daniel discuss the meaning of life, and thus, explain the life cycle in a simple, loving way.

The book appears to be a children’s book, but the subtitle tells the truth—“A Story of Life for All Ages.” [Below - You can see a couple of beautiful videos that were created of this book.]

Scientists have studied the process of seasonal changes for many years. There are three factors that affect what happens in the fall. The length of night, the weather, and pigments in the leaves work together to create the change. The most unvarying of the factors is the slow lengthening of the night. Other factors including food supply, rainfall, and temperature have greater variation.

All of the factors come together to trigger biochemical processes in the leaf. Three types of pigment, chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanin are responsible for the exact colors each species produces. Even the timing of the color changes varies for different species.

Temperature and moisture are the main influences on the brilliance of the colors that are developed each year. Warm, sunny fall days with cool nights produce the most vibrant autumn colors. A summer drought or a late spring can delay the coloring.

As the veins that carry fluids to the leaves close off, it eventually leads to the separation of the leaves from the tree and they fall. Gradually the leaves decompose and add nutrients to the soil around the tree. They also become food for many soil organisms that are essential for the health of the ecosystem.

Many areas of the country are famous for their breathtaking display of fall color, and the mountains of North Carolina and its Blue Ridge Parkway are among the most visited. If you want to see this year’s predictions about the peak of the color in areas of the state, search

Children enjoy fall activities that involve leaf collecting. Try to gather as many different species as possible. Press the leaves between newspapers and weight them down with books. When they dry, they can be used for making greeting cards or imaginative pictures. Leaf prints using stamp pads and rubbings with a crayon are fun for kids to make. Activities like these encourage kids to appreciate the natural world that surrounds them.

Leo Buscaglia's The Fall of Freddie the Leaf (Videos 1 to 4):

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When You Grow Up

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

When You Grow Up

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Maybe you’re like me, and you’re still working on it. Can you remember what you said when people asked you that question when you were a kid?

It is a more difficult thing to decide now than it used to be. When I was growing up, the choices were extremely limited for a woman. I remember thinking that I wanted to be a teacher, a nurse, or a ballerina. Once in a while, I thought about being a lawyer or a journalist. Now, the world is completely open for women. Young girls look at the world as being totally open to them.

I always tell my children that they never know what they are preparing for in life. When they have had experiences that they questioned, I assured them that there would be some part of it that they would take away that would later be useful. It’s been interesting to observe their development as adults from that perspective, and they have learned to understand what I mean.

Along those same lines, I believe that the primary job of parents is to open doors for their children. Exposing them to life experiences including other cultures and religions, being away from home, the arts, and in depth studies of many subjects through camps and other activities are just a few ways to broaden their horizons.

Sometimes children’s play is their real work. Activities and ideas that they are exposed to as children later become the magnets that pull them into adult interests. The more concepts they are exposed to, the bigger their world becomes and the more choices they will have.

Career education was one of the things schools used to focus on beginning in middle schools. When students chose a career to research, they usually picked one that they thought would pay the highest salary. Often when they explored the education requirements, the daily activities, and the hours required, they were surprised at what they found and quickly changed their minds.

One of the objectives of Port Discover’s mission is to provide kids with opportunities through play that will cause them to think about future careers. Role play with costumes and occupational gear is a part of the new “Getting Off the Ground” exhibit sponsored by Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation and the “Kinetic Kids” exhibit sponsored by the Albemarle Hospital Foundation. Children never get tired of pretending, and the more props and equipment they have, the more realistic the activity becomes.

These two entrepreneurial organizations are investing in the future by providing opportunities for children to imagine themselves as pilots, engineers, meteorologists, aviation technicians, designers, inventors, doctors, nurses, therapists, and pharmacists. We are grateful for the opportunity and resources needed to provide these experiences. Who knows what doors will be opened for these children through their explorations and play?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Mother of Invention

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

The Mother of Invention

In today’s world, necessity and profit might be called the mother and father of invention. If you want to get rich, find a need and invent something to fill it. The road from hatching the idea to the final product is a long and sometimes painful one filled with failure and setbacks.

Thomas Edison, one of America’s most prolific inventors, was issued 1,093 patents. As a child, he was thought to be not suited for formal schooling, so his mother home schooled him. He said of her, “My mother was the making of me. She was so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” He grew-up to be a scientific genius who was admired worldwide.

North Carolina is well known for its inventions. Such products as Pepsi, the Gatling gun, Vicks Vapor Rub, the UPC or barcode, M-1 carbine, Krispy Kreme donuts, putt putt golf, the control-alt-delete function, a machine for carding and spinning cotton, and many more had their start in NC. A high pressure water device which made the debarking of logs more efficient for the lumber industry was created in Elizabeth City. Nannie Hunter of Elizabeth City was not satisfied with the smell of soap and was granted a patent for her improvement of the manufacturing of soap.

Every year local students enter science fairs at their schools and some projects are chosen to be taken to the regional and state science fairs. While going through the process, kids learn the scientific method and basic principles of science as well as hone their research skills. It is this same process that can lead to invention and discovery.

Port Discover does outreach programs in schools that request them, works with homeschool groups, and guides students who come to the center about how to do a science fair project. Along with science, the kids learn organization and planning skills.

When I taught in middle school, I was one of the advisers of the Science Olympiad team. Each year we would travel to East Carolina University to compete in events designed to test the students’ scientific knowledge, their ability to solve problems, and to invent and build things. Trial and error were a big part of the learning process in many of the events.

One of the highlights of the day was always the egg drop. The kids were provided materials from which they would have to create protection for a raw egg that would be dropped from the top of a stairway. The kids practiced at home before they entered the competition and tested their ideas about what might work. Everyone joined in on the excitement and cheered.

The value of failure is an important part of the learning process. Thomas Edison found the filament that would work in a light bulb after close to 10,000 attempts. Perseverance counts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

People To The Rescue!

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

People To The Rescue

Anyone who has a pet knows that there is a special communication between people and animals. Just ask about someone’s pet, and you will hear stories about unspoken communication. Animals know much more than we give them credit for.

Recently, when our area was shocked by a tornado, an earthquake, and a hurricane people observed that animals in all kinds of environments reacted to the impending events in unusual ways. Many wildlife biologists agree that animals can sense when air pressure drops or vibration occurs.

Even at Port Discover, we saw what may have been animal reactions the day before Irene’s arrival. Our resident corn snake, “Cornelia” slithered out of the educator’s lap and tightly wrapped herself under the chair bottom. The Cope’s Gray tree frog went AWOL for a day and was found not far from his home.

Biologist at the National Zoo in Washington, DC reported that lemurs, orangutans, and a gorilla were restless and made noises before the earthquake that shook the east coast. Reports were that snakes began writhing and flamingos huddled together.

Animals have good cause to express fear when faced with disaster because often they are defenseless and abandoned. During the tornado in Joplin, MO 160 people were killed and the SPCA took in 1,300 lost or abandoned cats and dogs. Only 300 were returned to their owners. An adopt-a-thon held after the storm drew 5,700 people from 24 states that wanted to rescue the homeless pets.

The ASPCA recently reported that in a survey they learned that 42% of pet owners claimed that they would not evacuate if their pets could not go with them. After Irene more than a dozen animals were taken to the Norfolk SPCA from shelters in NC that were overflowing.

As the clean-up began after Irene, more than 100 baby gray squirrels that had been knocked out of their nests were found. My grandchildren in Wilmington were given two baby squirrels to care for by their neighbor who is a veterinarian. He has coached them through the rehabilitation process. After being fed formula for a couple of weeks, they are now dining on cranberries and cheerios. They will eventually be released in an area where they can successfully get back to the life that Mother Nature intended.

Wildlife that is rescued by people should be released into an area away from the neighborhood where they were nurtured because they might continue to expect food from the humans that cared for them. Squirrels have been known to become aggressive in such situations.

There is much to be considered when rescuing wildlife, and it is much more complex than simply feeding them. You can become a certified wildlife rescuer if you sign-up and complete training. Websites such as and have information about how to pursue that goal.

Mohandas Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” People to the rescue!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Take Time To Teach

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Take Time To Teach

Have you ever looked at your kids and thought, “Where has the time gone? They are growing-up so fast.” Then you have that “I’ve lost something” feeling in the pit of your stomach. Don’t worry, you’ve always got time.

I read the interview in the Daily Advance last week about home schooling, and I thought to myself, “Everybody should be ‘home schooling’ their kids.” Subjects like responsibility, organizational skills, critical thinking, time management, self-sufficiency, independence, and other so called ‘soft skills’ can best be taught at home. How many parents take time to teach?

In today’s world where budget-cuts have affected so many educational extras like field trips, arts programs, and science lab experiences, just to name a few, parents will have to step up to the plate and get in the education game themselves. No longer can schools of any kind be expected to do everything they used to do.

That’s not necessarily a bad situation, and parents should view it as an opportunity to interact with their children on a valuable level. There are so many experiences in the home and in daily life that provide the perfect teachable moment that all good teachers seek. A parent is the child’s first teacher.

One of my favorite Christmas books is THE PRECIOUS PRESENT which says that the best gift you can give is to be present in the moment. As I watch visitors to Port Discover, I delight in seeing the parents and grandparents that truly connect with their kids while explaining something to them in an exhibit. They aren’t talking on their cell phone, texting, or making their grocery list. They are fully engaged with the child, and the experience is made more valuable for both of them.

Our area has a wealth of resources to assist families with the enrichment of kids’ education. Parents are accessing the Museum of the Albemarle, Arts of the Albemarle, Port Discover, the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center and Park, the public library, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, church groups and other organizations which supplement children’s education.

Life presents so many opportunities to teach kids. Our threatened visit from hurricane Irene provided the perfect time to teach emergency preparedness and the science of weather. Many sites ( and on the internet featured information for kids about earthquakes.

Books like 100 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KID... and others present suggestions from “sail over your house in a hot air balloon” to “be on the lookout for a double rainbow.” As you do these things, help your child study the science background of the event.

Modeling the behavior you want your child to develop is the most important thing you can do. I once read that kid’s seeing their parents read to themselves is just as important as their being read to by their parents. Supporting your child’s education comes in many forms which all require your participation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Bucket List

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Summer Bucket List

Some of my neighbors are moving south, to South America in fact, and I’m going to miss them. The twenty- two avian acrobats who live in the house in my front yard are flying to spend the winter in warmer lands.

After many years of trying, we finally were able to attract a colony of purple martins. They made our summer delightful with their music, family life, and soaring antics. We spent hours watching them and trying to figure out what they were doing and why.

Now the martins are leaving, and that is one more sign of the season’s changing. Soon the humming birds will be gone too. It reminds us all of our summer bucket lists which need to be completed. Have you checked yours lately?

If you have not been to the new Jennette’s Pier at the beach, you are in for a real treat. For a donation, you can walk out on the pier and feel like you are in the lap of the natural world. Leaning over the railing and watching the fish, jelly fish, skates, sting rays and other ocean life in their habitat is a glorious experience.

Other activities not to be missed, if it has been a while since you’ve enjoyed them, are going to the Wright Brothers Memorial and attending the Lost Colony Drama. Climb up to the memorial and survey the landscape. At the drama, be sure and take the backstage tour to learn all the behind the scenes secrets. Hear how DNA testing may soon alter the legend of the lost English colonists.

An afternoon at Port Discover and the Museum of the Albemarle will please both young and old. A new inhabitant and a new exhibit are soon to be unveiled at the science center. Go to the Downtown Waterfront Market on Saturday morning and enjoy the products that are grown locally.

Get out with your children and view the summer constellations which differ from the winter sky. Start planning your fall garden, and let the kids help with the preparation.

If you are a teacher, I know that turning the calendar to August directed your mind to your plans for the new school year. Look into taking you class on the H.A.S. IT Tour to the Art Center, Port Discover, and the Museum of the Albemarle. For a small fee, your students can spend a day exploring new exhibits and activities at all three places. Go on line to see the hands-on outreach programs that Port Discover offers.

Reading the story of the Wright brothers’ childhood and how they liked to experiment and build and had their mother’s encouragement reminded me how important it is that kids have a variety of experiences which will open doors for them. As William Wordsworth said, “the child is the father of the man.” Work on that summer bucket list.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's Out There in the Dark?

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

What's Out There in the Dark?

If it is true that all great thinkers, scientists, academicians, theologians, and philosophers have based their revelations on observation, then it can be concluded that parents should give their children many opportunities to develop their own powers of observation. In fact, it may be a skill that is being damaged by modern life in many ways.

When the family goes on a trip, kids’ viewing of DVD’s is the accepted practice for keeping them occupied during the journey. Even walking down the street involves constant attention to a cell phone instead of looking at people.

As a 40 year teacher, I can tell you that the best students have finely tuned observation skills. They have studied people, the natural world, world events, and have drawn first hand conclusions about many things. When they express themselves in writing and speaking, it is evident that they are capable of forming their own conclusions. In the disciplines of science and math, the ability to observe with attention to detail is critical for success. Problem solving in all areas requires keen observation.

How can parents help their children to expand this ability to its maximum potential? Primarily, providing the time and opportunity to have practice observing and then verbalizing their findings is key in the development of this critical skill. The first step is to stop the multitasking train and focus on your surroundings.

On an evening when the moon is full and the sky is clear, take your children outside to exercise their five senses. First, allow your eyes to adjust to the dark, and then start trying to make out specific objects.

Ask the children questions. What animals can you see? Are there any plants that you recognize? Is there enough light so that you can recognize each other? Are there any movements that you can distinguish? Walk away from each other. How far can you get before you can’t see each other at all? Turn your attention to the sky and study the moon ant its shadows. Is there a silver lining behind every cloud? Is there a difference in the brightness of the stars?

What do you hear? Bugs? Owls and other night birds? Frogs? Bats? Are you near water? Can you hear animals splashing? How do the sounds you hear at night differ from what you hear in the day? Can you hear the wind? Try your other senses—smell, touch. Make a conscious effort to focus on one at a time.

Help you child research the difference between nocturnal animals and creatures that move about in the daytime. Have them draw conclusions about what they find-out. Discuss why some people are afraid of the dark. Ask if their outdoor experience changed their feelings about the dark.

Children can often answer their own questions, if they have developed the patience and skill to carefully observe their world, even in the dark.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Flights of Fancy

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Flights of Fancy

When you have an outrageous dream that is not likely to happen, you call it a “flight of fancy.” It seems that anything dealing with flight has always existed as somewhat of a dream for humans. Even though mankind has gone to the moon, that idea is incomprehensible to some who refuse to believe that it happened.

Our area was tied in with the dream of flight from the very beginning when the Wright brothers passed through Elizabeth City and acquired materials to take with them to Kitty Hawk for their grand experiment. As time has passed, there have been many events and accomplishments connected to flight that were tied to the Albemarle Area.

When my husband was a little boy, huge blimps from the Naval Base in Weeksville flew over his home while he was playing in the yard. The shadow and hum of the low flying air ships creeping over his head would terrify him, and he’d run inside for cover. The sight of the floating giants was a part of daily life in those days.

The base eventually closed, but we proudly still have the U.S. Coast Guard Base which has a long list of accomplishments. You can still go see the massive hangar where the vessels were housed. Sadly, in August 1995 a spark from a welder’s torch created the fire that destroyed one of the hangars which had been the largest wooden structure in the world.

In the past few years, College of The Albemarle and Elizabeth City State University have developed aviation programs that have great promise of expanding opportunities for our area. As the interest in aviation grows, educators at all levels are responding.

Last year Port Discover acquired a grant from Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation for an aviation science exhibit and series of programs called “Getting Off the Ground” which is slated to open in September. Some of the highlights will be a control tower, interactive kits, discovery of aviation occupations, a hot seat simulator, and a paper airplane hangar. An advisory board with members from COA, ECSU, Albemarle Area Economic Development Commission, and USCG are helping with all aspects of the new exhibit’s creation.

The Piedmont Natural Gas grant allowed Port Discover to sponsor a workshop conducted by the Civil Air Patrol for Pasquotank County middle school teachers. Teachers were given materials and lesson plans to use in their classrooms next year as well as a stipend. They are committed to incorporating aviation in a variety of disciplines.

In the fall, seven local families will be able to win a flight over coastal NC. Look out for more information on how to participate in Family Flight Night through Port Discover.

“Getting Off the Ground” will be another large step in the center’s mission to enhance the public’s understanding and enjoyment of science through interactive and engaging exhibits. Students and adults alike will find information and inspiration for their dreams of one day having a career in aviation or developing an interest in flying.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer's Love Bugs

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Summer's Love Bugs

Just the mention of the word “bug” makes most people start scratching. However, there are insects that people, especially kids, love. For grown-ups, they bring back nostalgic memories of summers during their childhood. Who doesn’t remember the glass jar at the foot of the bed with those sparkling, enchanting lightning bugs flickering off and on?

Actually, lightning bugs aren’t bugs at all. They are part of the beetle family. While they appear all over the world, various cultures have attached myths to these magical creatures.

Aztecs thought they brought a spark of knowledge in a time of ignorance and darkness. Europeans believed that a person would die if a firefly flew in the window. Native Americans caught them and smeared them on their faces and chests as decoration.

Today, the firefly is the state insect of Pennsylvania and Tennessee. They are used for medical research in the areas of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and heart disease. Fireflies are truly beneficial and don’t bite, have no pincers, don’t attack, don’t carry disease, and are not poisonous. Their larvae feed on the larvae of snails and slugs.

If you are really ambitious, you can become part of a lightning bug network and help with research. The Museum of Science in Boston allows you to sign up and send them data about the lightning bugs you observe once a week in your back yard.

So the big question is why do lightning bugs flash anyway? As you might guess, they are trying to attract a mate. The females perch close to the ground while the males fly around flashing, and then a dialogue soon begins. Each species of lightning bug has a unique flash pattern.

Bioluminescence is the ability of a living organism to give off light which is referred to as “cold light” because no heat is present. The firefly is the most common land animal that has bioluminescence, but certain types of worms, fungi and mushrooms also display light.

Fireflies are most often found around low, wooded areas that retain moisture like ponds and marshes. Adults sometimes feed on pollen and nectar. The female lays her eggs in the ground, and they hatch in about 4 weeks.

If you want to try to attract the golden creatures, there are several things you can do. Try to reduce the amount of light on your property so there will be no interference with the signals they are giving each other. Instead, install lights that are low to the ground and point straight down. Don’t use bug zappers or chemical pesticides. You could enhance the moisture available by adding more birdbaths. Allow for some tall grass in the yard where the males can rest during the day.

Take your children and yourself back to a slower, more beautiful time and have a lightning bug night often. The summer is short and so are childhoods. If you want to learn even more about fireflies, go to and research with your children.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Critters Among Us

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Critters Among Us

Lilly and Squeakers are best friends and cage mates. They live in a four story condominium that was custom made for them and furnished with ladders, hammocks, and the finest of bedding. They get room service everyday with their favorite foods (corn, cheese, cheerios, lettuce, carrots, seeds, etc.). The two female rats are among the many critters that inhabit Port Discover.

Did you know that rats have personalities? Squeakers is a thief while Lily is a hoarder. The thief who was the first to move in is fatter than the hoarder. At first they didn’t have much to do with each other and slept in separate hammocks. Then one day when the center was opened one hammock was empty, and we thought someone had escaped. On second inspection, they were both in the same hammock on the top floor. Ever since that, they usually are found napping together.

Although sometimes reluctant, adult and kid visitors to the center enjoy holding the long tailed pets. The rodents use their tails to control their body temperature because they cannot sweat. A rat’s teeth are always yellow upon maturity and don’t stop growing until the animal’s death. Both of these characteristics make the creatures unappealing to some people. Once you understand them, you might accept them.

Rats have been proven to make a laughter like noise which is unable to be heard by the human ear alone when tickled and to dream while sleeping. They have terrible eyesight so you’ll rarely see them in the middle of a room where their whiskers aren’t touching the wall.

Normal lifespan for the friendly creatures is 3 years with the oldest having been 7 years and 4 months. Females can produce 1-20 babies every month until the age of 2. That’s a potential of 460 offspring.

Neighbors of the rats are a Cope’s gray tree frog, a toad, some Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Bess beetles, a variety of fish, and most recently 3 freshly hatched chickens.

The North Carolina Extension Service provided us with an incubator and some fertilized chicken eggs. We then set everything up so that the hatching process could be seen on our website. After 3 days we had 3 noisy chicks and lots of visitors to share in the excitement.

The next big animal event will be the creation of butterflies in the front window of the center. Right now the caterpillars are feasting on the parsley planted for their enjoyment. We await the day when beautiful butterflies appear for our enjoyment.

The emphasis on hands-on science at the center has reached a new level with the installation of the Kids Grow Garden. Lots of big and little hands have made the thriving garden a reality over the last month. A wide variety of vegetables and herbs live in the transformed downtown area. Both animals and plants live in endless varieties among us and bring us immeasurable joy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The People You’ll Meet

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

The People You’ll Meet

One of the luxuries of semi-retirement is that you enjoy the gift of time and you can decide how you will use that time. Do you remember when “stop and smell the flowers” was a popular saying? Well, now I would say, “stop and enjoy the people.” In my mini-retirement job the thing I have enjoyed the most is meeting a greater variety of people.

Every day I am enlightened and surprised by the people that interact at Port Discover. An amazing array of folks come to both enjoy the benefits of the center and to contribute their talents to its mission.

Last year Port Discover had approximately 10,000 contacts which is about 200 per week. Most of the students are from ages one year to age 12. Some come with their parents and others come with school groups.

The students touched by the outreach education programs performed by the science educators is another big group. Students from Girls Inc., the Boys and Girls Club, La Casa, and the YMCA attend the monthly after-school programs. Birthday parties are held at the center and kids learn while they celebrate.

Parents of young children sometimes arrange play dates with friends so their children can enjoy the toddler section together. It is interesting to see the interaction between parent and child while they are both in the teaching-learning mode.

Grandparents are frequent visitors with their grandchildren. Often the kids are visiting, and the grandparent knows that Port Discover is a place where they can interact with a purpose. Both participants have a good time and leave feeling that the time was well spent.

Sometimes families who are taking extended trips by boat and are home schooling their children spend time using the educational resources available at the center. One family who visited the center had sold their home and business and had traveled down the Mississippi River and was on the way to Maine. They had spent a year on their journey and shared some of their adventures and observations about our area. Port Discover and the Museum were featured in their blog that week.

A family from Canada brought their year old son to experience the exhibits. They became so interested in the Kids Grow garden project that the father volunteered several hours laboring in the garden. Another family from Canada traveling by sailboat brought their children and spent the afternoon. The mother was a teacher of Eskimo children and was on a paid sabbatical leave.

Volunteers include students from ECSU, MACU, NHS, PHS, and NC School of Math and Science. Retired teachers, parents, grandparents, USCG members, Port Discover members, and other interested citizens volunteer their time to make the many activities at Port Discover happen.

If you’d like to be involved in helping kids broaden their horizons about science and education in general, come and join in on the fun. You’ll meet people who share your interests and are making their world a better place for today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding The Energy

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Finding The Energy

Invention, innovation, and creativity power our country and have made the United States an example for the world to follow. Someone is reputed to have said in 1899 that “Everything that can be invented has been.” We now know that our world is limitless—except when it comes to energy to power our inventions. Now we’ve got to find more energy.

In our daily lives we have moved toward conservation and using renewable energy as much as possible. Alternative energy sources like wind and solar are constantly being sought. We’ve been here before as a county during the eighties, but we seemed to lose our motivation then. This time, there are so many countries competing for energy that our efforts must become more serious.

Here’s where the kids come in. Since they are natives in the world of technology, and adults are usually just visitors, we must educate them to explore the possibilities. Their knowledge and understanding of science will be critical in the creation of new sources.

Port Discover will offer several opportunities for kids to develop a vision of the energy world of tomorrow. On May 26 Dr. Althea Bluilett, assistant professor of physics at Elizabeth City State University, will teach a program on alternative energy. Students will observe simple motors and generators in action and work in groups to build an alternative energy motor for display.

In the new “Kids Grow Garden” behind the center, a watering system using rain water collected in barrels and powered by the sun has been installed by Solar Garden Sitter. The company based in Edenton and created by Gary and Joan Lee proclaims that it is the only solar powered programmable rain barrel irrigation system available.

Port Discover will benefit from this innovation as well as have an opportunity to teach visitors about the concepts involved. During a one inch rain more than 700 gallons of water runs off the average roof. That’s enough to supply 17 baths or 58 showers.

Kids can be focused when they want to be. When I wanted to create a habit of fastening my seatbelt, I told my young son he could have all the change in my purse if he caught me unbuckled. It didn’t take long for me to cultivate the habit.

If you want to get motivated about energy conservation and use, involve your children by having them do things like make energy posters reminding family members to conserve. Encourage them to be the switch police for the family, monitor the doors being closed, turn the water off when brushing their teeth, and take showers instead of baths.

Have them come up with their own ideas, and then see if the electric and water bill change. Put them in the position of responsibility and power. It could be a great authentic learning experience for the whole family this summer and a money saver too. They will learn about science and economics at the same time, and you will prosper from both.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Making A Difference In Your Own Backyard

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Making A Difference In Your Own Backyard

Raccoons, beavers, wild turkeys, squirrels, groundhogs, bobcats, birds, deer, geese, ducks, owls, hawks, great blue herons, night herons, opossums, foxes, river otters, turtles, and snakes make their homes in our backyard. That’s just the residents that I’ve seen. I’m sure there are more.

To put it mildly, our yard is critter friendly. When we built our home on a canal and next to a swampy area, I knew it would be wild, but not this wild. The grandchildren and visitors love it. We put in a sidewalk so I wouldn’t step on a snake walking down to the pier. My husband laughed at me, of course.

Last Christmas my sister and brother-in-law gave us one of the most cherished presents that we’ve ever gotten. They took the time to go online and complete the application for our yard to be registered as a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). I knew about the program, but I’d never taken the time to complete the process. We were thrilled with the whole idea.

When the application is completed and the $20 is sent in, you receive a personalized certificate that recognizes your yard as a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat. Along with that comes a free NWF membership which includes a year’s magazine subscription, 10% off catalog purchases, and a free subscription to the e-newsletter, HABITATS, full of tips and information on gardening and attracting wildlife.

In addition, the owner’s name is listed in NWF’s National registry of certified habitats in recognition of the contribution to the well- being of wildlife. You can also purchase a yard sign that shows your commitment to conserving wildlife. In completing the application you certify that you have elements from certain areas:
  • Food sources: native plants, seeds, nuts, berries, nectar
  • Water sources: birdbath, pond, stream
  • Places for cover: thickets, rock pile, birdhouses
  • Places to raise young: dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond
  • Sustainable Gardening: mulch, compost, chemical free fertilizer

Right now the organization is trying to reach a goal of 150,000 wildlife habitats by December 31, 2011. If you are interested in participating, go online to and do a search for the wildlife habitat application.

Putting yourself and your children in close contact with nature and wildlife brings immeasurable rewards. We used to have a fish pond in our backyard, and one summer our youngest daughter, age 10 at the time, decided to keep a wildlife journal. All of her daily observations and drawings were carefully entered into that journal. It was quite a learning experience, and it didn’t cost a thing.

PBS recently broadcasted a beautiful documentary on the life of John Muir, a Scottish born American (1838-1914), who was an activist for the preservation of wilderness areas. He founded the Sierra Club which today is one of the strongest conservation organizations. He spent his whole life studying the natural world, and he truly made a difference. You too can make a difference for wildlife right in your own backyard.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preserving the Gift

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Preserving the Gift

Chief Seattle was a Susquamish leader who lived in the mid-1800s on the islands of the Puget Sound. The courageous warrior is famous for a letter he is credited for writing to the Congress in 1854 when the president requested to purchase some land from the Indians.

I used to teach my students about the letter as a compare and contrast between the Indians and the settler’s philosophy about the earth and its ownership and preservation. The noble chief states that “every part of the earth is sacred to my people...We are part of the earth and it is part of us.” He charges the settlers to teach their children that “what befalls the earth befalls all the sons of earth..” and that “earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.”

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 at the urging of Senator Gaylord of Wisconsin. He himself was shocked when 20,000 people took part in the observation. That day marked the beginning of a new focus on environmental politics. Enactments of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act followed in the years that passed. Events like oil spills and nuclear accidents recently have driven home the need for concern followed by action.

Our awareness about our stewardship of the planet has improved over time, but we are far from where we should be in terms of our behavior. Some of us make a serious effort in our daily lives to reduce our ecological footprint, but we can always do more. Being a good citizen of the planet requires constant vigilance and maintenance.

Families can celebrated Earth Day on April 22 and all month long by doing things like building a birdhouse, planting a tree, growing sunflowers, learning how to compost, increasing the use of rechargeable batteries and disposing of hazardous materials properly. Help your kids write a letter to one of their representatives about their views on the environment. The list of possibilities is endless. April at Port Discover will be marked by programs like “Water, Water Everywhere,” “Thank You, Earth,” and “Green Thumb Challenge.”

“Kids Grow” a community garden project being done through a partnership among Port Discover, Project Grow and Albemarle Food Bank and is being sponsored by Ag Carolina that will begin this month. Produce grown in the raised garden beds behind the center will be used as healthy snacks during programs for kids, and the surplus will be contributed to the Albemarle Food Bank.

The outdoor area will provide more teaching opportunities and a beautiful setting for learning in downtown Elizabeth City. Stop by for a visit and check on our progress or volunteer. Bring your friends, children, and grandchildren and share in the excitement.

As our native forefather said in his letter, “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself...Preserve the land for all children, and love it.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager


If the few fleeting days of spring weather that we have experienced recently haven’t made you want to get off the couch, then you’d better check your heart beat. In downtown Elizabeth City walking and running traffic has picked up. Folks dressed in short sleeves have been strolling babies, taking pictures of the sights, enjoying their ice cream, riding bicycles, walking to lunch, and taking in the warm rays. Spring weather makes most people itch to get up and get out.

If you want to really experience spring fever go into any classroom on one of the warm days and watch the kids’ excitement and the teacher’s frustration at trying to keep them on task. Do you remember going home after school when you were young, grabbing a snack and rushing back out to play until supper time? Unfortunately that’s not the picture nowadays. Most students are in organized activities or hurry home to play video games until their parents come home.

According to recent studies, most children spend far too many hours involved with many forms of media and technology. Up to age 15, sixty-one percent of kids play video games every day. Girls are involved 5 hours per week while boys play an average of 15 hours per week.

As parents, grandparents, and educators we have to try a little harder to keep kids moving both in and out of school. Recess and physical education are not like they used to be. The philosophy now is to teach the kids that movement is part of the big picture of how to live a healthy life. My memory of P.E. classes where we did calisthenics for 30 minutes three times a week and were sore on the other days is a thing of the past, thank goodness. Students now learn about sports and activities that they can enjoy for a lifetime.

One of the definitions of the word “kinetic” is movement in response to stimulus. With that in mind, the Kinetic Kids exhibit at Port Discover will open on Saturday, April 2. The interactive exhibit and play space will feature three themed areas. The Scientist I Can Be exhibit will encourage children to assume the roles of health professionals and fosters this play with a variety of play acting costumes, toys, and tools. A Fitter Me space features an interactive and music-based exhibit that offers children guidance on healthy exercise activities. A Healthier Me exhibit includes a market and food preparation space that, by using play food, food labels, and utensils, teaches children how to make healthy food selections and control their portions.

We all want kids to keep that spring in their step well into the latter part of their lives. Showing them how to enjoy staying active and how to make healthy choices early in their lives is key to making that happen for them. We all need to get up, get out and get fit, and spring is a perfect time to start.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

How Does Your Garden Grow?

How does your garden grow? All over the country families are preparing to start a backyard garden this spring. This time it will be a victory garden of a different sort- a financial victory and maybe even a nutritional victory. The movement to eat locally grown products and buy locally is sweeping the country for many reasons.

The economic crisis the country is experiencing is a creature that has so many tentacles and is so far reaching that Americans are looking in every direction to improve the quality of their lives while saving money. People are valuing time spent together doing activities that strengthen the core of the family. Laboring in the garden together and then cooking and eating the bounty are activities that can bring family members closer while children learn. Even a small container garden will bring great rewards.

We are so fortunate to have access to locally grown food from farmers’ markets and vegetable stands and neighbors who share. A dollar spent in a community business does not leave the area and benefits many people. Vegetables purchased in some grocery stores often have spent days or weeks in storage and transit. Even organic food loses some benefits if it has to travel a long distance.

Local vegetables have been handled less, are safer, and retain their fresh taste plus most people just think they taste better. Many people only eat tomatoes in season because there is no comparison in taste with those purchased in the winter. Vitamins and minerals are retained more successfully when the produce is eaten soon after it is picked.

You might want to ask yourself how much eastern oil did it take to get the apple to me? Transporting goods makes us more dependent on costly foreign oil. Also, the effects of pollution produced by trucks carrying the products are harmful to the environment in general.

Eating locally produced honey can have even more benefits than many people may realize. Honey contains small amounts of pollen from the ecosystem in which it was produced. By eating local honey, you receive allergens which is almost like getting a vaccine in small doses which may reduce allergy symptoms.

On first Saturdays in the coming months kids can bring a 2 liter bottle to Port Discover and plant a vegetable to be transferred to their gardens later. AgCarolina Financial provides funding for Project Grow at the center. Programs at the center during March focus on National Nutrition Month. Angie and John Lamberson, registered dietitians and owners of Nutrition Pair, LLC presented a Kinetic Kids program “Eat Right with Color,” made possible by the Albemarle Hospital Foundation.

The health benefits of having your own garden or buying locally are numerous. Get out in the fresh air and sunshine this spring. Plant a garden or go to the Farmers’ Market in downtown Elizabeth City or buy produce at your favorite vegetable stand. Make it a family affair and experience the benefits first hand.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Heart of the Family

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

The Heart of the Family

The heart of the family is nurtured at the dinner table in many ways. Physical and emotional patterns and attitudes of a lifetime are established and strengthened during mealtimes with people whom children love and who love them. Dinner together was an absolute must when my children were growing up, and they have carried on the tradition with their own young families. It truly was the heart of our family’s interaction about all kinds of subjects.

One of the topics for exploration in families could be a health plan for the entire family which could evolve through conversations that begin at mealtime. Knowledge about health, wellness and nutrition can be shared, explained, and modeled so that kids learn to live with intention concerning their future health.

Some of the heart tips suggested by Tara Winslow, RN, Heart Failure Educator at the Albemarle Hospital are:
  • Your heart is a muscle that needs 60 minutes of exercise every day.

  • Salt shouldn’t be added to food at the table.

  • Fish has healthy oils that keep your heart healthy.

  • Family walks will help everybody and can be fun too.

  • Kids can help in the kitchen and learn many life skills.

  • New foods should be tried often because taste buds change often.

  • Baked foods are better than fried for your body.

  • Kids should plan family meals and help to cook.

  • Kids’ health is their responsibility too.

Awareness about health issues and skills for staying healthy can be taught at home and re-enforced through programs offered at school and at Port Discover. February is heart month and the Kinectic Kids program sponsored by the Albemarle Hospital Foundation presents events like “Heart Smart,” “Keeping the Beat,” and “Body Check” where kids learn about monitoring their heart rate, taking their blood pressure, and the importance of exercise. Many future quality of life determining decisions will be based on children’s knowledge of science and health.

A recent report of the Foundation of Child Development shows that 22% of children in the U.S. will live in poverty this year. That is the highest rate in decades and leaves families at risk for not being able to provide the nutrition needed for growing bodies and brains. The cost of food is rising dramatically and will likely get worse as the cost of oil increases. As time goes by, the emphasis on health and wellness will be even stronger. It is crucial that children be taught how to make good choices concerning their own health.

All agencies dealing with children must recognize that students’ physical, mental, social, emotional health are tied to academic performance. Educators are now paying more attention to the direct effect health has on test scores, but we should make sure that parents, health professionals, and educators collaborate to strengthen the well-being of the whole child. Only when we focus on the whole child will the problems such as low graduation rate, truancy, and poor performance be solved. At the heart of that effort is the education provided by the family at the dinner table.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Port Discover Likes to “Move It…”

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Port Discover Likes to “Move It...”

“We like to move it, move it” could be the theme song borrowed from Madagascar when the exhibit for Kinetic Kids is opens at Port Discover on March 26. The new program made possible by a grant from the University Health Systems Foundation and Albemarle Hospital Foundation will focus on keeping kids healthy by teaching them the importance of movement, nutrition, and portion control in the fight against obesity in the Albemarle area.

The word kinetic itself means “energy that comes from movement.” Kids are usually in a perpetual state of motion, and if that characteristic is channeled properly, the result will be a healthier adult. That thought is the premise on which the exhibit will be based. By raising awareness in kids, the statistic recently reported by the Albemarle Regional Health Services that heart disease, followed by cancer and respiratory disease, is the number one cause of death in the area could be changed. National attention has been focused on the obesity in kids problem by First Lady Michelle Obama and recent legislation aims at fixing its causes.

Science is something kids should do as well as study. Knowledge of facts is important, but a student can only fully understand the concepts after being engaged with the subject matter. That’s why recent studies that show that participation in science fairs has declined across the country are alarming. Educators point to the strong emphasis on the teaching of reading and math along with the increase in the varieties of extra-curricular activities as being the causes of the decline.

National test scores show the United States being in seventeenth place in its ranking in science proficiency which shocked many citizens. In his state of the union address President Obama called for a “sputnik moment” referring to the large emphasis placed on science and math education in the 50s and 60s after the USSR’s launched its sputnik satellite. Parents have recognized the opportunities that exist for their children who excel in the field of math and science and many of them try to foster a love of learning in those subjects.

Soon after I began working at Port Discover, I attended the Second Saturday program given by Dr. Maurice Crawford, the Marine Environmental Sciences Program Coordinator at ECSU. Children from age 5-12 eagerly squeezed bags of pretend critters in slimy goo and then dissected the contents of the pretend fish stomach and identified the organism that they found. It was hard to believe that they had left the comfort of their Saturday morning play to experience science first hand, but there they were with giggles and sheer enjoyment on their faces. Parents and grandparents cheered them on and delighted in their enthusiasm. Port Discover works to promote that excitement everyday with constantly changing exhibits and programs. They are doing their part to create a place where the kids truly are the scientists.
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