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Making Science Fun

4-H Science Club helps to protect native wildlife

Certifying vernal pools, building wood duck nesting boxes, and participating in ocean clean-ups may challenge the idea of spare time fun for many young folks. Not so if you are a member of the Nature’s Navigators 4-H Science Club of Middleboro. The club’s 16 members, ages seven through 16, relax into all of the above with joy and enthusiasm.

“Science experiments and scientific jobs are multifaceted, involving several disciplines, skills and most importantly, a healthy dose of enthusiasm,” notes Carlos Fragata, one of the club’s three leaders.

Building wood duck nesting boxes

Building wood duck nesting boxes

Within the last year, the club has partnered with state agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and national organizations like the Ocean Conservancy, to help protect native wildlife and areas vulnerable to overdevelopment and to maintain the integrity of local ecosystems.

“Nature’s Navigators have a history of participating in a ton of community service projects. They do great work for the environment and are a wonderful example of what 4-H can do in a community,” said Molly Vollmer, Plymouth County 4-H Extension Educator.

“My big push with the 4-H members and with anyone who will stand still is to make them aware of their surroundings by honing their senses and observation skills and also giving them a taste of the different disciplines involved in science,” noted Fragata who is joined by husband and wife team Charlie and Peg Chace in leading the club.

Art, observation and nature, for instance, come together in the club sketchbook. Each member records drawings of a particular place, along with elements like weather conditions, time of day, and season. The sketchbook is then passed to another member until it has made it through all members, illustrating the connection between creative skills and science skills as the observations evolve.

“It’s a great way for the kids and their families to have fun with art, understand observation skills, and learn more about science at the same time,” said Charlie Chace.


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of In Common.