Budding scientists explore at Camp CBG

June 29, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It requires close examination, but when viewed through a microscope, students at Camp CBG are seeing that water samples can be pretty revealing.

"In this camp, which is called ecology, we're teaching the kids about the diversity of life and all the different eco-systems in the garden. For example, today we're studying aquatic life and if you're looking at water samples it's just teaming with life and we want the kids to recognize that," Jim O'Malley, science camp teacher, said.

They are also examining life on land.

"Soil samples are completely different in many different places. Let's say there are little bones in the forest soil sample as well as maybe a slug and in the prairie it's all kind of sandy-ish because it's not in shade all the time," Jack Massey, 11, said.

Students studying in the children's garden get to experience nature in an even more physical way. They're using the outdoors as a classroom to learn botany in the kitchen.

"We made some salad. We picked it with our hands from the children's garden and we made it into salads and we made a nice little dressing," Emily Johnson, 8, said.

Camp organizers hope that in addition to making science fun, the hands-on garden could affect their food choices.

"We work with the horticultural staff to make sure there are really cool vegetables; purple carrots, maybe yellow green beans and to show kids that it's not only easy to garden but they can do it at home and often in camps kids will try things that they haven't tried at home because they see other kids trying it," Amy Wells, Chicago Botanic Garden, said.

Whether plucking from the garden or wading in the water, the campers seem to be drawing the same conclusion.

"Nature can have a lot of influence, even in the tiniest ways," David Winicky, 10, said.

The Chicago Botanic Garden offers a number of summer programs to help children and adults connect with nature. Learn about the options at chicagobotanic.org

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