An Island in Chicago

On April 13th, Sister4Science girls took a field trip to Northerly Island. “An Island?” One of the girls asked. Northerly Island is one of Chicago’s top beautiful location that is dedicated to nature. The girls met Amy Kryston, from the US Army Corps of Engineers at the Field Museum. From there the girls walked to Northerly Island. on our walk the girls spotted a beach, 12th street beach. “Wow, look at this view, it’s so beautiful!” said Brenda a student from Orozco. There the girls took pictures and were able to collect different rocks and shells. One of the girls said, “Look I found three rocks, I like this red rock very different from an ordinary gray rock.” We then continued our walk, during our walk Amy suggested to the girls to look around and see how many birds they see and how many trees as well. “I see 1…2…3…(counting), I see 20 birds!” one of the girls said. Amy then stopped and introduced the girls to two key terms in Biology (Ecology) biodiversity and abundance.  The girls were asked if they knew the meaning of those terms. Taneeyah from Funston elementary, said “biodiversity means the different kinds of species and abundance means how much of that species is represented.” “Great, yes exactly!”, said Amy. Amy explained that Northerly Island has a great diversity of different birds, that come and visit while migrating etc. and said that at times there are only one species that are present at a specific time. For instance, at that time the only bird that was abundant were geese.

We walked back towards 12th street beach to speak to Dr. Philip Willink from the Shedd Aquarium. Dr. Willink is a research biologist that studies the Great Lakes. He asked he girls if they knew the names of the Great Lakes. The girls shouted….” Lake Michigan”, “Um Lake Huron”, “Lake Superior”, “Lake Erie”, Amy said “One hint, the last one is a city in Canada”, Taneeyah said, “Lake Ontario!”. Dr. Willink talked about his research about studying different fish diversity, he talked about Lake Michigan having Salmon, especially during the winter because Salmon likes cold water. Bam! A guy dropped a bucket, and Dr. Willink said to the girls “You see that guy he is most likely fishing for Salmon.”

As Earth Day was approaching, Dr. Willink and Amy introduced climate change and how that affects our surround especially in Chicago. The girls were asked “How do you guys think climate change is affecting Lake Michigan?”. The girls did not know the answer; however, Dr. Willink explained that Lake Michigan currently is not affected but a couple years back the weather was hot that instead of the lake rising the water was evaporating. “Really?!” the girls were intrigued. Lastly, Amy introduced terms that she thought were important for the girls to know such as abundance, biodiversity, environmental literacy etc. As the sun came out, the girls went back to 12th street beach, took pictures, enjoyed the view of the lake, and learned how to skip rocks in the lake. Girls were talking and helping each other by saying “Find a flat rock so it can skip further”. A gloomy day turned into a sunny one, and it made for a fun day to learn about ecology!

Written By: Angelina Jaimes

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The City Nature Challenge

“Here’s another one. I see it,” Elizabeth shouted with such enthusiasm.  Other girls, Kiara our Program Coordinator, and I followed her voice.  Then, there came a snake that scared all of us.  Yes, a snake that Elizabeth so loved.

It was chilly Saturday morning with some drizzles.  Some girls from each school gathered early in the morning to participate City Nature Challenge.  CNC (City Nature Challenge) is a nation-wide challenge or competition in which 16 cities participate in this year for a certain period of time in April (April 14-18) by photographing any kinds of species you have seen or found, and uploading them on iNaturalist app.  This event was open to public, all communities in the city.  Doesn’t it sound so much fun that you’re discovering nature in the city?  These two, city and nature, seem so distant from one another, but that is I believe we call it “City Nature Challenge.”  By participating in this wonderful event, we all experienced that city itself bursts out of nature.

For this challenge, we took a short trip to Palmisano Park and met a lady named Catherine from City Park District who is an environmentalist as well.  She guided us through Palmisano Park that covers the whole two blocks in Bridgeport area.  We never knew such a tranquil place would perfectly fit into one of the busiest cities in the US.  She thoroughly explained history of this park that was opened in 2009.  In fact, this park would have never been born without “people” and community meetings—see, this historical fact tells us we never live without nature surrounding us.  As we walked through the park, we didn’t see much of spring season (well, it was still cold in Chicago).  Ms. Catherine told the girls, “You will actually see these bloom in June and July.  For now, we only see a little trace of each plant or flower.”

We were about to turn to the other side and we saw something magical, a fishing pond.  “Could we go down there?” “Oh my, I want to be close to those ducks.” “Do you see a baby duck?”  The girls got so excited when their eyes met the water in the park.  “Ok, let’s play around little bit and see which species you can find under the water,” said Ms. Catherine.  All girls loved seeing what is under the water.  “See, we got this,” said Taneeyah pointing to some algae they have found.  “I want to touch them, but they keeping running away,” a group of girls from Woodson explained, quite disappointed.  “You want to slowly, quietly approach to them, so they don’t want to feel like you’re attacking them,” I suggested.  Then, finally, these girls got to sit right by the duck family and watched them sitting still on the water.

This fishing pond isn’t everything of this tranquil place but hillside as well.  Ms. Catherine led us to the top of this green hill where we saw a beautiful view of the the always stunning Chicago skyline.  We had lunch there and just rested for a while.  The winds welcomed us.  The sun began to wake up a little after noon.  No more cloudy afternoon for us.  Down from the hillside, a few girls screamed out, “Oh my gosh, I saw it.” They covered their eyes with their hands.  Close to what they’ve seen, there came a dead snake. – yes, a dead one.  Only one girl loved seeing this dead snake, and began to search for other dead ones.  No more dead ones she could find, but she found two snakes alive and moving on the grass trails instead.  Elizabeth shouted with joy, “I got it. I got it.”  Everyone else was scared enough, standing far from them.  Elizabeth was the one who even patted these snakes.  For her, these were just little pets.  Along the way back to the bus, we could identify more than 20 species in Palmisano Park—yes, there are definitely more than we have found.  We are very much so looking forward to visit this park again when there is a full blossom of everything—that would be much easier to identify species.

Thank you, Ms. Catherine and Chicago Park District J

Written By: Bori Kim