We have been prepping for the camps coming up after the 4th of July. The excitement level is through the roof as we are getting the activities ready for Camp Summer Scientist Career Spotlight: Marine Biologist camp. A lot of fun science is in store for our campers. We look forward to seeing what they create during camp as they learn about marine ecosystems.
In other exciting news our department has worked on a settling plate rack for BioDiscovery for a little while now and launched it today, June 28th! BioDiscovery is a program created through collaboration between Charleston County Parks and Recreation along with SC Sea Grant Consortium and Patriots Point is proud to be an official hub. These plates will collect organisms that land and subsequently grow attached to substrate, and they will ultimately attract more animals. Things we expect to see are barnacles, anemones and sea squirts. This “biorack” attached to our education dock will be getting checked on regularly. Once organisms start growing, we will be viewing them under a dissecting microscope. It will be interesting to see what is there.
The 8th annual teacher’s conference was held on Tuesday June 11th and Wednesday the 12th. Teachers got to stay aboard the USS Yorktown and attend workshops during the day. We had a blast working with teachers from all over South Carolina and are already looking forward to the next conference. On Thursday the 13th we worked alongside of SCDNR on an oyster reef build. Thank you to all the volunteers that helped us out! We finished the week trying up the loose ends of summer camp prep.
On Monday June 17th summer camp was full steam ahead! We welcomed around 40 campers for the week. The theme of this camp was animals. All of the activities had to do with how different animals move, eat and live. The first day we explored the world of reptiles and enjoyed an activity on habitats. Throughout the rest of the week activities included echolocation, animal print casting and animal movement. Campers also explored the ship and surrounding USS Laffy and USS Clamagore. We have three more camps this summer and can’t wait!
With school being out, a minor makeover in the wet lab is underway. The process of giving it a new look has begun; we are very excited to see the end results! Come and check it when it’s completed. In addition to the wet lab changes we are preparing for our teacher’s conference next week and the department is definitely staying busy.
We had a very special event that gave us a break from the wet lab and teacher’s conference prep. The 75th anniversary of D-day was on Thursday June 6th; we had nine World War II Veterans onboard. They shared their stories about what they saw and had a meet and greet. Visitors obtained these wonderful men’s autographs and heard from them one on one. The event was great and made lasting impressions on everyone.
Further exciting news, in our office we have a new summer intern from College of Charleston starting today. We are thrilled to welcome Taia into the group. The department is looking forward to working with her this summer!
We welcomed so many excited school groups on board this week; some came all the way from North Carolina. Several groups got to experience the ship at night and camped here. Students assisted in calculating salinity of water found at different parts of the Charleston harbor and mapped the tides. This was the final week of school for many of our groups; thank you for spending some of that time with us. Go forth and enjoy your summer break!
In-between the school groups and prepping summer camp activities, we saw a tagged manatee near the pier. US Fish and Wildlife think this particular manatee was caught and tagged in southern Georgia and has been to South Carolina before. The satellite tags help scientist track the migratory patterns of these animals.
Events in the near future:
The history department is busy preparing for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Ten World War II veterans will be on board and recounting their experiences during D-Day. For more details please visit the Patriots Point Facebook page. Details here
We also have an oyster reef build coming up on June 13th. For more details please visit the Blended Learning at Patriots Point Facebook page. Details here
This week in science:
NASA is sending a group to work in the Atlantic Ocean to prepare for future moon expeditions! Read more here
We had a blast with all of the school groups we welcomed aboard this week. We want to say thank you to those schools for coming and visiting us while they are wrapping up the school year! The groups helped us clean up a simulated oil spill and created new land forms in our augmented reality ocean. The students experienced our animal room and got up close to some of our animal friends, such as a sea star and a horseshoe crab.
Our classroom said goodbye to the last of the tree frogs this week. The frogs were raised from wild caught tadpoles. A new project is starting up here, blue bird habitat boxes! The first box was installed on Friday and all of us are hoping to see birds soon! The owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Mt. Pleasant came and put it in for us. She also answered a few questions for us in this video clip.
We get a lot of questions during our program but probably the most commonly asked one is what were our classroom areas when the ship was still in service. Well that depends on which part of the program you are in. If you find yourself doing science then you are sitting where enlisted sailors would eat. The science classroom is located in what once was a mess hall. It would have functioned similarly to how your cafeteria works now. If you are in the middle of helping the Doolittle Raiders then you are in what was once a berthing area. That means that sailors would have slept there. Each sailor would have gotten their own bunk and there were 72 berthing areas total! Finally, if you or your teacher ever goes up to the education office you would be standing in the antisubmarine warfare room. It was known as ASCAC. In this room they would track and identify enemy submarines.
Have you ever heard the term invasive species? It refers to organism (either plant or animal) that have been moved to an area that they were not originally found in. Today they are a major problem around the world with many of them causing massive damage to the natural populations. Here in South Carolina, we are no different when it comes to be invaded. Many scientists are looking at how these introduced species are affecting the naturally occurring species. In fact here at Patriots Point we are partners with a College of Charleston professor Eric Sotka, who is looking at the effect that Japanese red algae is having here in Charleston. This project is open to the public as a citizen science project, so if you would like to learn more about check out our science spotlight page!
For those of you who have come to the USS Yorktown you know all about our animal room. People love to look at the burr fish, turtles, and frogs but they often miss one of our favorite animals in the room. The Mosquitofish might be small but it sure is interesting! First, when you look at them it sure is pretty easy to tell if you are looking at a boy or a girl. Females tend to be much bigger than males and have a large black spot on their side. The most interesting part of them is their name. They are named after one of our least favorite bugs, the Mosquito. Many people ask if that means they drink blood…. NO WAY! That would be crazy. One of their favorite meals just happens to be mosquito larvae. This means that in some small ponds around your house these fish could really help with the mosquitos you see in your yard. This just goes to show you; even the smallest among us can have a big impact.
There sure has been a lot of talk about the USS Clamagore, and what will happen to it. Eventually it will make its way down to the sunny state of Florida and be sunk to create an artificial reef. You might be asking yourself what exactly is an artificial reef? It normally refers to a man-made structure that is placed at the bottom of the ocean. This structure then begins to promote the growth of all kinds of life. Not only can these reefs provide much needed habitats for many different animals, but they can also do a lot for humans. They can help with beach erosion, recreational fishing and diving, and even improve surfing.