This season we are joined by six middle school students, Matt, Grace, Julia, Alisa, Wyatt and Phoebe. When asked why they wanted to be part of the project they had a variety of responses:
Unfortunately, our first session met with limited success. Our students did learn how to measure turtles safely with calipers, they saw what a turtle trap was and how it was set and retrieved from the water. They also got to see (up close and personal) snapping turtles from the lake. Unfortunately, these weren’t the turtles we were looking for! Yet, we knew the turtles were out there, as we saw them sunning themselves on the logs. So, we turned to volunteer Larry Riddick, who has been part of the Wildlife Mapping program at the museum for several years, and can, with binoculars, identify sunning turtles on logs.
Armed with binoculars, students learned how to identify turtles on logs, what field marks to look for, and what might make this a challenge. All returned a favorable report on this part of their day, despite it not being what they were hoping for. We still counted turtles, but were not able to collect some of the data we were interested in.
After our visual observations were through, we returned to the museum classroom to learn how reptiles and amphibians are classified, and met some of examples of each in the process. We are hopeful that our next session will provide us with a hands-on experience with the basking turtles.