Forest School at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, TN (Contact: Rebecca Westbrook)
Wauhatchie Forest School is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It provides immersive, place-based experiences in nature for school-aged students that encourage their holistic growth, a love for learning, and compassion for all. Rebecca Westbrook is their STEAM Integrationist and she reached out to me to coordinate a demo for the teachers of this Forest School. My first impression when I arrived was that the space they have is very beautiful and big. All of the demo attendees were super enthusiastic to learn about how to use a Foldscope. The great thing about being surrounded by nature is that we were able to collect at a wide variety of samples - including pond water. The sample preparation was very fun because most of them had chosen different samples. After the demo, they all expressed how they could definitely see Foldscope been a great fit into their programs that are centered around learning through explorations. I can’t wait to see the amazing scientific observations that this team will make in the future!
McCabe Park Community Center, TN (Contact: Vaibhav)
I led two demos over a couple of days at the McCabe Park Community Center in Nashville, TN. They had quite a few summer programs for kids from the area, and with the help of Vaibhav, we were able to include the Foldscope demo on two separate days as part of the activities for kids.
The first day, 10 children and their parents attended our demo. I provided an assembled Foldscope to each one of them and all of them learned how to use it pretty quickly. We did the sample collection with the help of the parents at the park next to the Community Center. One of the most popular samples were ants. Most of the parents gave lots of freedom and space to their kids to learn how to use the Foldscope by themselves, so it was very interesting to see towards the end of the demo how the kids starting teaching their parents how to use the Foldscope and showing them how the samples they had collected together looked like under a Foldscope.
The second day, 13 children attended the demo and only Vaibhav and another adult were helping. For this group, Vaibhav had requested that I teach them how to assemble a Foldscope. The activity was a bit challenging at time because a couple of the kids were too young to participate and kept getting distracted by different things. For this reason, I decided to pair the younger kids with slightly older kids and that helped a lot. All the attendees were able to successfully assemble their Foldscopes. Due to time constraints, we didn’t go too in-depth about sample preparation but the kids still had lots of fun looking at different kinds of samples such as little insects.