8 June, 1999
Prince William Sound Science Center
JUNE 8, 1999
Greetings from Cordova on another bright sunny morning. Weather conditions promise to just as beautiful as yesterday. This is unusual for Cordova to have so many great sunny days in a row. It often rains here. Everyone was just soaking up the sunshine.
Upon arrival at the center, Nancy Bird, the Vice President of the Prince William Sound Science Center, and I discussed my plans for the day, which included some time spent with Emily Becker, the Education Director, and a visit to the haystack trail. My visit with Emily was great. She shared with me the activities that were planned for the upcoming week long camp for ages 12-18 years. She asked my suggestions on some additional activities that the campers can do, which I gave and were well received. I also suggested a few modifications to existing activities at Emily's request, so that students can explore and design their own experimental designs using the scientific method. I explained ways in which the activity can be written as a scenario followed by a task assessment, which sets the student thinking of how to proceed with the investigation............involves the constructivist approach, Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. I also shared with her a format for students to reflect on their day's activity that was more structured rather than an open ended journal, the latter of which she had not been too thrilled with.
After our meeting, Emily and I visited the Cordova museum. Though small it was very interesting. The entire history of the city of Cordova and its fishing industry were illustrated as well as the history and development of the Kennicott copper mines, the lives of the native people living near the mines and their extinction following a epidemic of some sort, the direct cause of which is uncertain, and the construction of the million dollar bridge over the Copper river between the Miles and Childs glaciers. What fascinated me among the exhibits was the lighthouse and its ingenious construction of reflecting mirrors and transmitting capability. Another wonder was the skilled engineering of the construction of the million dollar bridge that was in place in the first decade of the 1900's. It was definitely a journey back in time. I was very impressed. Following the museum visit, we had lunch and then I joined Aaron Lang and Melanie Rawlins, both camp instructors, on a hike of Haystack trail.
Haystack trail is on one of the uplifted areas of the delta, the peak of which is a couple hundred feet above the delta. The trail was an easy one to hike with gentle, winding paths along a terraced boardwalk in many areas. The trail is well maintained by the park service. As a matter of fact, we passed a maintenance crew on the trail and say the evidence where areas were cleaned and cleared. There were seats constructed of logs (arranged to form a bench) along the path for hikers to rest. At the top of the haystack, and at the lookout area was also a bench. The view from the top of the haystack was breathtaking. It was quiet, and the delta appeared like a still painting. There we relaxed for a while and enjoyed the peace and quiet, chatted on topics of interest, courses of study in college, and their involvement in the camp. By the way, Emily is a graduate of the College of William & Mary and lived in Alexandria VA for a number of years and attended high school there. Aaron, is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and Melanie attends Brown University. All of them are Environmental Science Majors. Aaron was in his glee today. He is an avid birder, and was able to identify several birds along the hike and he also practiced his bird calls. Way to go Aaron!!! After a wonderful afternoon we returned to the center, and called it a day. Before I left for home, Nancy shared with me some additional literature on research associated with the sound, and curricular materials developed for the Science Center.
That evening, I attended a lecture on trumpeter swans at the Fish and Game Building that was sponsored by the Audubon Society of Cordova, and presented by Dr. Slayden himself. Dr. Slayden is a Professor Emeritus of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, and has worked extensively on Trumpeter swans and their migratory behavior. His work inspired the movie Fly Away Home. Why Cordova for a lecture of this nature? Cordova is from where pairs of trumpeter swans were retrieved and taken to Northern Alaska, Canada and New York, to study their migratory patterns southward during the seasonal changes. So Cordova was the contributing genetic factor for this study. These swans had to imprint on humans and light craft planes immediately after hatching, and trained to fly following after them. The slide presentation was very interesting, and the dateline documentary on the entire process was very informative. Dr. Slayden also showed the sanctuary he has established in Warrenton, VA. for these birds, and traced the migratory path of the birds to over wintering grounds on Maryland's Eastern Shore en route to North Carolina. Following the lecture, I visited the lower floor of the building where there was an exhibit on the animals that occupy the Copper River Delta. This too was excellent. A large aquarium depicting that lively and colorful intertidal habitat of Orca Bay was also part of the
exhibit. It was most intriguing, and yet relaxing to watch the rock anchored invertebrates move in their own fashion, and show off their pretty colors.
A short walk home and settling in for the night ended yet another eventful and enjoyable day. I wasn't too tired and with bright sunshine all around me, I could not fall asleep even though it was after 10 pm. So I watched a video on The Life Of A Sea Otter. Animal stories are always fun to watch. I learned quite a bit about these creatures, and was able to understand the differences that exist between them and the river otters, both anatomically and behaviorally.
Tomorrow promises to be yet another great day, and to which I am looking forward with great expectations. I will be visiting the world renowned Childs glacier. Stay tuned and rejoin me in Cordova for another day of Northern exposure and wonder.
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