Running Wild on the Summer Solstice

From time immemorial, the summer solstice has been celebrated by people and cultures across the globe. The ancients depended on the yearly pattern of day-light hours to set their calendars and determine the best time to plant and harvest crops. The summer solstice, which typically falls on June 21st, is the longest day of the year and after this date, the days become progressively shorter as we head into fall.

The movement of the celestial spheres may seem rather separate from our busy modern lives. But if you think about it, everything from the food we eat to the way we plan our day is intimately connected to the time and seasons, which are affected by the motion and attitude of the Earth as it moves around the sun!

Science on a SphereLearn: If you’re curious about how day-light is affected by the position of the earth during the summer solstice, here’s a simple experiment you can try:

1. Stand a stick upright in a box of sand or dirt.

2. In a darkened room, use a flashlight to shine a beam of light over the stick. See how you can make the stick’s shadow longer or shorter by changing the height of the flashlight. Make three observations; one with the flashlight directly over the top of the stick so that there is no shadow, one casting a small shadow only an inch or two long, and one with a shadow about as long as your stick.

(This is similar to what is happening to the Earth as it moves around the sun over the course of the year. Although the sun doesn’t move like our flashlight, the Earth does and that affects how high or low the sun appears in the sky and how long shadows are. During the summer months, the northern half of the planet where we live is turned toward the sun. On June 21st, we are facing the sun directly so the sun appears straight up above our heads. The highest point the sun reaches in the sky in a single day is what we call noon, or 12:00pm. The higher up the sun is in the sky at noon, the longer the daylight hours are between the time when the sun rises and sets.)

3. At noon, take your stick and box outside and see where the stick’s shadow is now. Try measuring the shadow. Which of your flashlight observations is most similar to length of the shadow cast by the sun?

*If you’re good with math you can use the Windows calculator on your computer to find out the angle of the sun in the sky. Here’s how: Go to the Start Menu on your computer and select Calculator. Go to View and select Scientific. Divide the length of the shadow cast by the sun by the height of the stick. Make sure the little bubble that says “degrees” on the calculator is selected. Select the button that says “Inv”. Now select the button that says “tan−1“. The number that comes up is the angle in degrees. If you get a zero, that means that the angle of the sun is zero and the sun is directly over head.

Now that you’ve discovered the science of the solstice, it’s time to get out and celebrate it in the best way possible by signing up for Run Wild in the Woods on Saturday June 22nd. This event is a 10k run/5k walk through beautifully rugged, unglaciated terrain at our Black Earth Campus. For details and to register online, see the link above!

See you at Black Earth!

 

 

 

 

Summer Camps (ages 2-16)

Summer camp is a time honored tradition as well as a wonderful opportunity to make friends, have fun, and learn a little something along the way.

Kids Backpacking

We at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center are excited to present our all-new 2013 Summer Camps. With 150 different sessions that include full-week, individual, and extended-day options, your child can revel in that much more adventure and discovery!

Age Groups:
Wonder Bugs (2-3 years)
Sprouts (4 years)
Tadpoles (5-6 years)
Explorers (7-9 years)
Adventurers I (10-12 years)
Adventurers II (13-16 years)

Ages 2-3
Full summer package (12 sessions: T, W, R, or F): $100 Members; $110 Non-members
Individual sessions (T, W, R, or F): $10 each

Ages 4-9
Full week (M-F): $210 for Members and $262 for Non-members
Extended day (8-8:30am and 4-5:30pm): $64/day for Members; $80/day for Non-members

Individual sessions (M, T, W, R):
Half-day (9:00am-12:00pm, or 1:00pm-4:00pm):                                                         $72/day for Members; $96/day for Non-members
Lunch bunch (noon-1:00pm): $8/day
Extended day (8-8:30am and 4-5:30pm): $48/day for Members; $64/day for Non-members

Individual sessions (F):
Half-day (9:00am-12:00pm, or 1:00pm-4:00pm): $24 each
Lunch bunch (noon-1:00pm): $8/day
Extended day (8-8:30am and 4-5:30pm): 16/day

Ages 10-16
Full week only: For pricing see Ages 10-12, or Ages 13-16
Extended day (8-8:30am and 4-5:30pm): 16/day

Registration:
Member registration begins March 1.
Non-member registration begins March 15.

Download a Registration Form.

Save on camp enrollment and much more by becoming a Member today!

Brainiac Bowl

You’ve sharpened your wits to the point of perfection; now it’s time to let the world know just how much you know about science, history, and popular culture. The best part about it is that the knowledge doesn’t end there. Your participation in the Brainiac Bowl will help to fund the ongoing environmental education programs for students of all ages at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center.

The evening includes a delicious dinner and decadent dessert, two drink tickets, the opportunity to win in a drawing for fantastic prizes, a Crazy Costume contest, and the chance to outsmart some of Madison’s finest minds during the Brainiac Bowl Championship.

Participants may enter individually, or as a group. Competing teams are made up of eight players. If you don’t have a team, we’ll match you up with like-minded folks.

Entry Fee:
Individual/ $125
Table of Eight /$1,000

Date:
April 19, 2013

Venue:
Brink Lounge
701 East Washington Ave.

*Corporate Partnerships with excellent recognition benefits available!

To register or for more information, contact Kelley Van Egeren at 608-221-0404 x3.