Cornelius' Corner:

"Field Trip Fun"

Field Trip Fun

Students try raking flour in the Grist Mill.

Happy November, friends!

I wanted to talk about the awesome time we had earlier this month with the second graders from Aston Elementary School. While spring may be a busier time for field trips in the park, we still get to have lots of fun with schools in the fall.

The students got to rotate through a series of activities, including hearth cooking, taking a Grist Mill tour, visiting the Blacksmith Shop, helping screen soil from a real live archaeological excavation, and exploring the Frog Pond!

Hearth cooking was a big hit, because who doesn’t like making delicious cookies? The students got to make jumbles, which are small cakes flavored with rose water. In our programs, we use a jumbles recipe from The Burlington Cookery, a collection of recipes handwritten by a young New Jersey woman in the 1770s.

“Jumbles” cooked in bake kettles on the open hearth.

Each group gets to mix up a batch of dough, shape them into little balls, and bake them in a bake kettle on the hearth. Of course, everybody gets to enjoy a cookie after all of their hard work. I just wish they had a mouse-flavored version!

During their visit to the Frog Pond, the students used dip nets to search for various creatures that live beneath the pond’s surface.

Each group got a chance to find creatures and share their discoveries with the rest of the group. They learned that there is still plenty of life in the pond even though winter is coming!

Close-up of a backswimmer from the Frog Pond.

Favorite species from the day included big bullfrog tadpoles and dragonfly nymphs, but the real showstopper was a gorgeous backswimmer that showed off its amazing paddle-like back legs!

These insects are predators that hunt for smaller prey like aquatic insects, small fish, and even tadpoles. The students even got to observe how the backswimmer carried a bubble of air underwater so it could keep breathing, which gave its back a shimmery silver pattern in contrast with its dark upward-facing belly. Check out the video we captured of this fascinating critter here.

It was a great day, and I hope all my new friends from Aston Elementary stop by to say hi again soon!

– Cornelius

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