Interpretive Programs

Quaking Bog and Hungry Plants

Students will view a slide show highlighting Waterloo's natural features and Michigan's geologic past and present. Hiking past a kettle-hole lake, through hardwood swamp and over the floating bog will help students make comparisons of the soil, plants, and wildlife found in Waterloo.

Classes examine the bog's distinct characteristics including the nutrient-poor system, acidic soil, and slow rate of decomposition. Observations of bog plant adaptations, including the carnivorous pitcher plant and sundews help explain the harsh environment.

View the Quaking Bog and Hungry Plants information sheet for teachers, which includes program goals, objectives, and grade level content expectations.

Forest Ecology: Top to Bottom

This guided walk gives students the opportunity to observe the diversity of plant life and the benefits of their use as wildlife habitat in Waterloo Recreation Area. Characteristics of a healthy forest are discussed including the forest layers and the inhabitants of each layer. An in-depth look at trees, their attributes, and photosynthesis are included in the program as well as a discussion on invasive species and other influences on forest ecosystems. Students will learn how forests can be affected by land management practices, with a look at both good and bad examples.

View the Forest Ecology: Top to Bottom information sheet for teachers, which includes program goals, objectives, and grade level content expectations.

Michigan Mammals

Using study skins and skulls, the discussion focuses on characteristics unique to mammals including; a comparison of herbivore, carnivore and omnivore skulls, a look at pelts and their relation to warmth and camouflage, and a hike to observe habitats of Waterloo's mammals.

This program will cover food chains and webs, environmental factors affecting mammals as well as management practices used to ensure a balance of the complex relationships among wildlife, human beings and our shared environment.

View the Michigan Mammals information sheet for teachers, which includes program goals, objectives, and grade level content expectations.

Rock Cycle Walkway

Students will follow the Rock Walkway exploring the cycle of rock formation and break down. Using boulders from the three main rock groups, participants will learn about deposition, metamorphism, melting, lithification, and erosion. Glaciers and glacial features will also be discussed. The Discovery Center features the interactive geology room with an ice cave, fossil replicas, rock samples, a Geiger counter, and microscopes.

View the Rock Cycle Walkway information sheet for teachers, which includes program goals, objectives, and grade level content expectations.

Wetland Walk

A visit to three distinct wetland types; a marsh, kettle lake, and hardwood swamp will get students involved in the observation of each community's hydrology, soil, plants and wildlife. Students will compare and contrast the characteristics of each. The program includes dialogue on the wetlands of Michigan and the need for preservation and stewardship of these special places.

Ice Age Michigan

Classes will explore the landscape of Michigan 10,000 years ago, with a walk through an Ice Age river bed, a visit to a glacier remnant, and an introduction to the great extinction of the mega vertebrates at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Indoor activities include a closer look at ice age hunters, skulls of extinct mammals and a ‘Survivor' style activity.

View the Ice Age Michigan information sheet for teachers, which includes program goals, objectives, and grade level content expectations.