Student chapter draws families to wildlife event

By Dana Kobilinsky

Children enjoy an interactive Family Science Saturday event where they can guess what birds different feathers belong to. ©Alex Albert

The TWS Student Chapter at Washington State University hosted its first Family Science Saturday event this month where children of all ages — and their parents — came to learn about a variety of wildlife topics.

The chapter’s communications officer, Alexandra Kahler, put the event together with the Palouse Discovery and Science Center, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to further the public’s knowledge about science and technology. Kahler volunteers for the organization and teaches children who visit the center about a new animal every week.

“A lot of Saturdays, [the Palouse Discovery and Science Center has] a Family Science Saturday event on specific topics,” Kahler said. “We, as a club, had never done anything like that before.” Together, the TWS chapter and the center organized the event focusing on wildlife science.

Parents and children were invited to attend and check out a variety of different interactive stations. For example, at one station, children held and examined taxidermied animals and viewed other specimens from different species of wildlife.

The chapter also set up an insect station with a display of insects that they borrowed from the university’s entomology department. Here, the children got the chance to hold live hissing cockroaches. “We wanted to show them that bugs are not so scary, and they’re actually kind of cool,” Kahler said.

Other stations at the event included live birds brought in by the university’s raptor club, a habitat station where children could identify what habitat looks like for different species, a wildlife safety station, face painting and a craft station where children could make birdfeeders to bring home. “Our biggest goal was to get the kids excited,” Kahler said. “We wanted to show them that they’re not alone in this world. There are animals here, too.”

One thing that surprised Kahler was how much the elementary school students know about wildlife already. She recalls one young boy reciting the definition of an herbivore. With almost 200 people in attendance, this was one of the Palouse Discovery and Science Center’s most successful turnouts, Kahler said. She hopes to turn Family Science Saturday into an annual event. “It’s important to get kids, and even parents, to learn things about wildlife and conservation,” Kahler said.

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

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