Sunday, January 18, 2015


Bleah!  Double bleah!

I met with Cheri last Wednesday afternoon and unfortunately, by evening time, I had a sore throat.  Yes, that harbinger of a cold had left its death mark on my nasal passages.  By Thursday morning, I had the full-blown acid drip and I started medicating... zinc, vitamin C, Mucinex, pseudoepinephrine, aspirin, the works. 

Since then, things have gone through the usual stages, about one set of symptoms per day.  I had a miserable Friday night with congestion and I wisely gave up on my intention to go to interpretation training at the BioPark. 

As consolation, I'm posting below, one set of exercises that I had completed before the evile rhinovirus attacked me. 

Exhibit Interpretation Worksheet

Topic: Deserts plants

Conservation Message: Deserts = good, desertification = bad.

Three interesting things that I want my audience to learn
(Strive to include the “wow!” factor while building the knowledge they’ll need to understand your conservation message.)
  • Deserts are big. (They cover almost 1/5 of the Earth's land surface and are home to about 1 billion people.)
  • Deserts are diverse. (Many rare species, many plant species related to important crop species, many fascinating human cultures.)
  • Deserts and arid lands are used in many ways, but must be carefully managed to avoid “desertification.”
How I will make each of the facts above meaningful
(Hint: relate it to your audience, use intangible ideas, appeal to universal concepts)
  • Use a map or globe to point out deserts. Talk about where NM deserts are located.
  • Invite the audience to count or estimate the number of species in the Desert Conservatory. Ask what crops are related to desert plants.
  • Ask the audience to picture what happens to a lawn in ABQ that is not watered. Talk about historical changes in NM over the past 150 years. Discuss the biofuel plant at Columbus, wind and solar energy generation in the NM.
Three more facts I want my audience to learn
(in case I get bored of talking about the previous topics, or in case my audience is so intrigued they want to stay and learn more)
  • Desert plants are special. (They have many special adaptations: anatomy, chemistry, photosynthesis.)
  • Deserts are shaped by wind and water.
  • Deserts can be cold... very cold.
How I will make each of these additional facts meaningful

  • In the Desert Conservatory, ask audience to point out structural adaptations of the plants. Discuss phytochemistry (including remedios and pharmaceuticals). Discuss how important CAM and C4 photosynthesis are in crop plants.
  • Look at sand hills and/or examine desert pavement in conservatory.
  • The world's largest deserts are cold deserts in the Antarctic and Arctic. Use a globe or map to point out polar deserts. ABQ's nearby Great Basin Desert is only 9th largest. Other North American deserts are even smaller. Mars has huge deserts many times larger than the Sahara.
Three questions I can ask to facilitate discussion about my topic
  • Imagine you are lost in a desert. What do you need to survive? Do the native plants and animals need the same things? How do they manage to live in a desert?
  • What does “desertification” mean to you?
  • Can you name some important foods that are themselves or are related to desert species?
Our Actions Matter. The one action I will recommend to my audience and an explanation of WHY it matters.

Consider xeriscaping an area of your home landscape. This will reduce water consumption and your water bill. Water conservation has allowed Albuquerque to keep its water use at the same level as 20 years ago despite tremendous population growth. By limiting domestic landscape water use, more water is available for wildlife, aquifer recharge, agriculture, and industry.

Tools I might need to teach about this topic:
  • Globe or world map
  • Map of NM
  • Desert Conservatory species list
  • Before and after pictures of NM landscapes and Albuquerque area
  • Some curandera samples derived from desert plants
  • Xeriscaping pamphlet, poster

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

BioPark Distance Learning


Last Thursday I attended my first monthly BioPark volunteer meeting.  Events of the past fall managed to keep me from going to even one of these.  I continue to be amazed at all the activities that they support.   BioVan visits to schools, employee appreciation day, Kadomatsu, Sea Turtle Day, Orangutang Day, Cheetah Day, Story Time in the Garden, Aquarium Overnight, Touchpool tours, etc., etc. 

Distance Learning

I've been corresponding with Cheri V., the Aquarium and Botanic Garden Education Coordinator.  This afternoon we finally met in person and I began to get a feel for their needs and their use cases.  While distance learning can't and shouldn't be a front-line strategy, it has a definite role in helping to build the team for docents and for outreach follow-up.  We're still working through the details of the San Diego Zoo system while I try to riddle out the nuances of Edmodo. 

I also had a few moments for a Google Cardboard show-and-tell.  Definitely a hit for the BioParks STEM efforts.  We spent some time looking at my photo spheres and Jon's.

Finally we took a look at the phrenology notebooks.  The mobile app for the National Phrenology Network will definitely help with reducing data transcription errors and cut down on Cheri's workload.  This Monday I'm looking forward to meeting Ruby and Melinda, two of the current volunteers on this project. 


Expect a Saturday and a Monday post.  I'll be attending Interpretation Training on Saturday and then helping out with phrenology on Monday.