Hudson County residents in search of winter excursions can explore the nearby Meadowlands this winter and spring, which has a program schedule led by the Meadowlands Commission that includes a visit from a live wolf, family science nights, nature walks, and star-gazing.
Within a 20-minute drive along Route 3 West to nearby Lyndhurst, residents can escape to the marsh and wetlands that border the Hackensack River.
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s (NJMC) kicked off its Winter-Spring 2013 schedule of educational programs on Jan. 13, that includes activities for all ages. The events take place at the Meadowlands Environment Center (MEC), which is located at 2 DeKorte Park Plaza.
The Meadowlands Commission kicks off its Winter-Spring 2013 schedule of educational programs on Jan. 13.
The season kicks off on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. with Star Light, Star Bright, an introduction for all ages to the life cycles of stars, including why they shine so brightly for so long before disappearing in a blaze of glory. The program is led by Dr. John Sloan, Director of the NJMC’s William D. McDowell Observatory.
Sloan on March 20 at 2 p.m. looks at some of the planets beyond our solar system and whether they can support life in Out of This Solar System – Planets Orbiting Stars.
As part of the NJMC’s Family Science Nights series, children and parents have an opportunity to explore Astronomical Wonders on April 24 at 6 p.m. in the MEC’s portable Star Lab planetarium. MEC educators present a program on the spring night sky and help participants create star charts and luminaria to take home.
The Re-friend Your Telescope program is designed for people who have personal telescopes but aren’t quite sure how to use them. Participants bring their telescopes and the staff of the observatory helps get them up-and-running. Sessions are limited to five people and are held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 22, April 19 and May 17. The cost for each session is $5.
The observatory is open to the public for free stargazing, weather permitting, every Monday and Wednesday year-round, excluding holidays. Hours vary by season. Let’s Talk Astronomy learning sessions are held on Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. Cost is $15 for a month of classes.
Bunnies, hedgehogs, and a wolf
On Feb. 10 at 1 p.m., Bergen County Zoological Park naturalist Carol Fusco brings bunnies, hedgehogs, and other wildlife for Animals and Their Environment, a discussion on how mammals make their way in the world.
Visitors can meet a live wolf at the Wolf Visions education program the following month, at 1 p.m. on March 10. Vincent Reo of Wolf Visions dispels myths and educates the public about the importance of wolves and their role in sustaining a balanced ecosystem.
On May 4 at 1 p.m., Kim Stewart, founder of Stewart’s Apiaries in Vineland talks about bees.
Butterfly farmer Rick Mikula, accompanied by a variety of butterfly species, discusses the life cycle of these ecologically important insects, and how to create backyard butterfly habitats, on June 8 at 1 p.m.
Family Science Nights
Families can participate in egg-themed games and crafts on Feb. 26, with Eggs-ellent! Visitors will also learn how large eggs can grow and how long they take to hatch.
MEC educators invite families of children and young adults with special learning needs to join them on March 7, for Astounding Adaptations. The program examines how animals and plants survive in the wild and include animal movement, protection and feeding simulations that include live animal interaction.
Families use dip nets to catch shrimp, fish and other critters in the marsh in DeKorte Park for Mud Flat Adventure on May 28.
All Family Science Nights events are $5 per person, $4 for MEC members, and run from 6 to 8 p.m. While the programs are geared toward ages 6-12, parents are welcome to bring children of all ages.
Science meets music
Music of the Spheres on April 10 at 8 p.m. features celebrated jazz pianist and award-winning composer Diane Moser. Her Composers Big Band performs works inspired by the environment and celestial bodies. The concert is preceded at 7:30 p.m. by a discussion with Moser. After the show, visitors are invited to observe the night sky at the observatory.
On May 11, at 8 p.m., Moser returns for The Birdsong Project where her trio performs compositions based on bird songs and the natural soundscape. Join Moser prior to the show at 7:30 p.m. for a talk on Deep Listening and Acoustic Ecology.
The cost for the April 10 and May 11 performances are $15, seniors $10, MEC members $8.
Moser also leads two creative workshops in which participants use natural sounds, measurements, and modern technology to create original compositions.
On April 20 and 21, at 1 p.m., people can bring musical instruments, or just use their voice, for Pythagoras, Kepler, Math and Music. Participants convert measurements to musical intervals and create and upload sounds to a computer. The group will arrange the recorded sounds into an original composition. The April 20 session is for families; the April 21 program is for ages 9-18.
In Soundscapes and Birdsongs on May 18 and 19 at 1 p.m., participants are invited to bring instruments, their voices and recording devices. After walking DeKorte Park and recording and uploading the sounds of nature, participants create an original composition. The Saturday program is for ages 9-18 and the Sunday session is geared toward families.
The weekend workshops in April and May are $5, but $4 for MEC members.
Workshops, art classes, and nature walks
• Einstein – The Man Behind the Science: Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. A discussion about Einstein’s education, philosophy, and family life, as well as a look at memorabilia.
• Love in the Ocean: Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. Learn where some sea creatures find their mates.
• Midwinter Landscapes: Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. A three-hour program for teens and adults who are guided through simple landscape composition and a gentle approach to watercolors.
• Drawing Flowers with a Splash (of Color): May 9 from 2 to 5 p.m. All experience levels can bring their own flowers or study NJMCs.
• Signs of Spring: Watercolor Painting for Kids: March 23 from 1 to 3 p.m., Kids ages 6 to 12 draw images of DeKorte Park. $10 per child, $8 MEC members.
• Free Bird Walks: NJMC and Bergen County Audubon Society hold walks on the first Sunday and third Tuesday of every month at 10 a.m. In addition, birding for beginners programs, in which walks are preceded by sessions on bird identification, optics, and field guides, are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sundays April 7, 14, and 21.
• Special free walks include the Great Backyard Bird Count Walk on Feb. 15, at 10 a.m., the Fifth Annual Mother’s Day Walk on May 12 at 10 a.m. and a DeKorte Park Plant Walk on June 9 at 10 a.m. All walks are two hours long.
The cost for the art workshops is $15; MEC members $10.
The cost for Jan. 13, Jan. 24, Feb. 10, Feb. 14, March 10, March 20, May 4, and June 8 events are $5, MEC members $4.
The Meadowlands Environment Center is an NJMC facility operated by Ramapo College. For more information on Winter-Spring 2013 programs, and to register, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec or call (201) 460-8300.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.