Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Explorer Kit and Downloadable Activities

Sick of being stuck inside? Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt!

Looking for an outdoor activity? Put together an outdoor scavenger hunt explorer kit and see what you can find around your neighborhood!

Materials you will need:

  • A notebook and pencil to record your findings! You could press leaves in the pages, sketch an animal’s footprint, draw an interesting tree to record and look up later.
  • Binoculars, if you have them! Birds of prey like ospreys like to build their nests on top of power poles and other tall structures. Can you find any?
  • Sunscreen! It’s important for outdoor explorers of all ages to protect their skin from sun exposure.
  • Hand sanitizer!
  • Sunglasses! It’s no fun squinting at a tree trying to figure out if that’s a squirrel or a lump of moss
materials for an outdoor scavenger hunt

Download your outdoor scavenger hunt chart, or learn how to make your own customized animal tracking chart!

outdoor scavenger hunt
orlando science center outdoor scavenger hunt

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In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Zoo Awareness Month: How Modern Zoos Contribute to Conservation and Research

Bringing Zoo Awareness from the Past to the Present

June is Zoo and Aquariums Awareness month! Let’s take a look at the history of the first animal collections, where the modern zoo or aquarium is today, and why animals are kept in human care.

The earliest record of an animal collection was Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s collection in Egypt. It was common in ancient times for rulers across the world to give exotic animals, as gifts. For the most part, little effort went into the well-being of the animals. Slowly, information about how to care for these animals spread, and eventually exotic animal trainers and the first zookeepers began to emerge.

In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, zoological gardens became more and more popular. Zoological gardens are any collection of animals that are kept for public viewing. Zoology developed into a field of science, and private collections slowly began to fade from popularity. The donations and ticket sales at zoological gardens partially funded the scientific research on the animal’s behavior, anatomy, breeding, and nutrition. In the United States, national parks were formed and laws were passed to preserve these natural areas.

A Look into the Modern Zoo

Not all Zoos and Aquariums are equal. Even though many scientific and technological advancements have helped the zoology field grow as a whole. There are millions of zoos worldwide, but there are many differences between them.

In fact, not even all animal collections are the same. Let’s look at some of the most common kinds of animal collections and zoological gardens there are.

  • Private Zoo – owned by an individual or organization, is open to the public usually by reservation only
  • Private Zoo (breeding facility) – owned by an organization or individual, the animals in this collection are bred for Species Survival Plans or for animals to go to other zoological facilities. May or may not be open to the public
  • For-profit Zoo – large or small, a zoo that is open to the public and profit comes from tickets sales, events, or outreach programs
  • Non-for-profit Zoo – has programs in place to benefit the animals, the community, and education, does not earn profit from ticket sales or outreach programs, receives local and federal funding
  • Exotic Animal Sanctuary – owned by an individual or organization, does not buy or breed animals, only receives animals that cannot go to zoos or be released out in nature for medical or behavioral reasons
  • Private animal collection – an animal collection that is not open to the public, is up to the individual whether animals breed or what animals are bought, is for personal fulfillment not educating the public or contributing to conservation efforts

There are many advisory boards and accreditation associations in the United States, and globally that oversee how zoos and aquariums are maintained, and help ensure that animals in these facilities are treated humanely. 

OSC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to science learning for life, and we’re lucky to be a science learning center with live animals. Our animal ambassadors help people learn about nature and wildlife and hopefully inspire people to make small changes in their life that will have huge positive impacts on natural habitats. The variety of animals at the science center helps people see the issues some animals encounter in the wild like deforestation, poaching, and pollution.

 

The next time you visit the Orlando Science Center, or any animal facility, ask the staff members and volunteers questions. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • How is the animal exhibit similar to the natural habitat of this species?
  • Does this animal have a favorite food?
  • What conservation efforts is the zoo involved in?
  • What is animal enrichment?
  • What are some threats facing this animal in the wild?
Zoo Awareness- an old zoo

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In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Science Facts About Dogs: Unleash Fun Facts About Your Furry Friends!

How much do you know about our canine companions? Test your knowledge with these fun science facts about dogs!

How much do you know about your pet? Are their behaviors a mystery to you? Let’s unleash some fun science facts about dogs!

Dogs see color the same way that a red-green colorblind person would.

Dogs can only distinguish a few hues, mostly blues and yellows. This is why some dogs have trouble finding red toys on green grass. They can’t see them!

Graphic depicting how dogs see color differently

A dog’s mouth isn’t actually cleaner than a human’s.

Dogs have about the same number of germs in their mouth as we do. Keep in mind that dogs use their mouths like we use our hands, so wash up after playing a slobbery game of tug o’ war!

Dog with its tongue out

Dogs can sweat!

Dogs can sweat through their paw pads. They do this in addition to regulating their temperature by panting. Some dog owners say that their dog’s paws smell like stale corn chips. Eww!

close-up of dog paw

Dogs are omnivores.

Over years of selective breeding, humans were actually able to change the diet of dogs! Domestic dogs are able to eat meat and plants. Most wild dog species are carnivores.

puppies eating

Dogs have about 300 million olfactory receptors.

Humans only have about 6 million! Dogs are known for their keen sense of smell – that's why they’re used for search and rescue and sniffing out crime.

close up of a dog nose

Expand on the Activity:

  •  Learn how our animal handlers in NatureWorks teach our animal ambassadors positive reinforcement.
  • Put your Animal Kingdom knowledge to the test with a Bee identification game To Bee or Not to Bee.

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Bee Identification Game: To Bee or Not to Bee

Put your bee identification skills to the test!

Bee identification can BEE tricky when many bees, hornets, wasps, and other insects can have similar yellow patterns (or jackets).

 

Let’s find out as we play a bee identification game – a bee or not a bee! Test your knowledge of our pollinating pals, and find out what makes a bee a bee? 

 

Guess whether the picture is a bee or not a bee, then reveal the answer and some fun facts about our buzzing buddies! 

American Bumble Bee

Bumble bees live in underground colonies with a queen and many workers. They are the only bees that can perform buzz pollination - certain plants like tomatoes require specific vibration to release pollen. Bumble bees are the fuzziest bees. Because bumble bees are bigger and warmer, they can be out earlier and later in the day, at colder temperatures, and higher altitudes than other bees.

Hover Fly

These flies may hover around flowers like bees, but you can tell them apart if you look closely! Bees have four wings while flies only have two. Also, check out the antennae – fly antennae are usually small and hard to see, but bee antennae have a bend in them that’s pretty visible.

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Mason bees are solitary; they use individual nesting holes but live near each other. These are the bees that you may have made bee houses for in the Hive! These bees use mud, like masons, to build walls in their nest tunnels. They can pollinate many plants including apple, peach, pear, and plum trees. Because of their efficient pollination, many farmers like to have them around.

Yellow Jacket

Wasps and bees have similar coloration, wings, and both have stingers so they are often confused. While most bees are gentle and solitary, wasps can be more aggressive and territorial. How do you tell them apart? Wasps often have brighter colors and a smooth texture. Wasps are not as hairy looking as bees are.

European Honey Bee

Of about 20,000 bee species, only seven produce honey! Honey bees are not native to the United States. Although they can pollinate plants, they are not nearly as efficient as native bee species. These bees are social and live in hives with up to several hundred bees.

 

Every bee performs specific tasks to accomplish goals for the hive. Because honey bees live in a community and have a home to defend, they will be upset and may sting if you disturb a hive. It’s important to respect animals and leave them alone to do their important job in our ecosystems.

Hornet

Hornets are the largest group of wasps. Remember how to tell bees and wasps apart? Wasps usually have brighter colors and are less hairy looking than bees!

Mud Dauber Wasp

Mud dauber wasps build their nests by molding mud with their mouths. You probably have seen mud dauber nests before – we have a lot of them in Florida! These wasps are carnivorous – they eat other creatures, such as spiders.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Moths and bees both have fuzzy bodies and both have two sets of wing per side. Most moths are nocturnal, but some are out during the day and are easily confused with bees. How do you tell them apart? Moths have slender legs, with no fluff or obvious pollen basket like a bee. Moths have a unique mouthpart, the long proboscis they use to feed.

Drone Fly

Drone flies look and sound like bees, but you can tell them apart by their antennae and wings. Flies have short antennae and two wings, not four like a bee.

Sweat Bee

Most types of sweat bees nest in the ground, but a few nest in rotten wood. Like most bees, they eat nectar and pollen. Sweat bees often hover around or land on sweaty humans because they want the salt in their sweat, not because they think humans are flowers.

Expand on the activity:

What was your score? Are you a bee expert?

  • Learn how you can help our pollinating pals at www.thehoneybeeconservancy.org/

  • You may have heard about the Asian giant hornet, an invasive species to the United States, starting to make its way here and harming the local bees. 

    We're not likely to see any of these hornets in Florida as sightings so far have been limited to the West Coast. Here are some tips to help you differentiate helpful bees from these and other hornet species: www.agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets

OSC At Home Emails

Get a round up of our latest activities and ideas delivered straight to your inbox so you don't miss a thing!

Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

Follow us on social media for even more science fun including fun facts, games, behind-the-scenes photos, and more!

 

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