Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So I creep yeah, I just keep it on the down low

I was invited by the fifth grade girls to chaperone their field trip yesterday to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Since the best thing to do after being out of the office/library for two days is to leave again, I was happy to go. Even if I have to keep an eye on five ten-year-olds as they run around a busy museum, it beats catching up on shelving and paperwork.

Now, I don't know if any of the students went home to their families and gushed about cool things they learned, but I sure did. Even though I've been to this museum threes and fours of times, I still found some new things.

In the insect room, a museum employee had three insects he was taking out of jars to let people touch or hold, depending on the insect. At the insistence of my students I held a feinting beetle. It's defense mechanism is to play dead when a predator is nearby, so it played dead on my hand for a couple seconds before it trusted me enough to start crawling.

I wanted nothing to do with the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Based on how much I gushed about it to Blake, my favorite thing of the day was the last insect, the Australian walking stick. It is so cool! The museum employee had a female, apparent because of her large abdomen and tiny wings. These bugs are amazing at camouflage and mimicry! When they are first born, their mom shoots out the eggs. If there is no male around, it's okay - the female will just clone herself! Ants then carry off the eggs into their nests, where it is cooler and wetter than above ground. When the walking sticks first hatch, they look like ants, so the ants raise them as such! It wasn't really covered what happens when the ants and the walking sticks realize they are not the same, but I'm sure at some point the walking sticks get too big and move out on their own.

Out on the branches of trees and bushes, Australian walking sticks generally hang so that their abdomen just looks like a dead leaf blowing in the breeze, but if they're crawling around right side up, they look like a scorpion!
Not a scorpion!

Their life span is only about 9 months, but I think it's a pretty impressive 9 months.

I also learned, from our IMAX movie - Mysteries of the Unseen World, that dragonflies can move all four of their wings independently of one another, which is different from any other flying creature out there. This also allows them to hover and fly forwards and backwards.

Another other cool thing I got to do was touch a piece of Mars, a rock collected on Mars by a robot (I don't remember which one) and returned to Earth. The moon rock you can touch in the Air and Space Museum is pretty dang neat, but the Mars rock (in a similar display) is just off to the side in the minerals and gems room and you could easily miss it if  you're not looking for it. In fact, I must have missed it the other times I've been there. I definitely rectified that situation yesterday.

I'm bummed the new dinosaur exhibit won't be open until 2019, but I did think it was neat that there is a fossil lab with windows on three sides right in the middle of the temporary exhibit. The workers I observed were making storage boxes and taking photos, but that's still cool. There was a sign on the glass not to tap it, since it might disturb the mammals inside.

Overall, it was a fun way to get out and do something different for the work day and hang out with some students. I should have added a juice box to my lunch though. Anytime we had a field trip where we had to pack a lunch, Mom spoiled us by getting us a more fun than usual lunch to make the day even more of a treat, usually a Lunchable and a juice box. I did at least pack myself one last snickerdoodle and some Hershey's Hugs.

I did have to make up for it today by doing paperwork and lesson planning. I decided to put off shelving until tomorrow, but I'll make sure my podcasts are up to date in the morning so that I don't get terribly bored. 


Heidi said...

When I saw the picture, I thought it WAS some kind of exotic scorpion! I'm TERRIFIED of scorpions, but I was willing to read on to find out why you were so interested in this one...and then I realized it wasn't a scorpion and was very glad. :)

Yay for museums!

AmandaStretch said...

Thank you for trusting me. I would definitely not be this excited over a scorpion. :)

Giggles said...

I want to go to museums for my job! Wait. I can. Just nobody pays me for it. I'm extremely jealous of your awesome museums though.

AmandaStretch said...

I'll be sad to leave them, that's for sure. You probably get paid in hugs though, which are pretty great.