Anonymous
Wednesday 13th , 2013
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Here at Kidspace I wear all sorts of hats. One of my favorite things to work on is our outdoor programming. We have a beautiful garden space at the Museum where I facilitate monthly workshops.  I want to share some of my memories of experiencing fall from Colorado to California and recap my last workshop, Fall Colors: Art of the Leaf.

Being transplanted from colorful Colorado to Southern California has made me aware of the ways children experience and interact with the environment around them.  One of my favorite yearly experiences growing up was piling into the car and heading to the mountains to see the leaves of the aspens, cottonwoods and scrub oaks change into brilliant gold, yellow and crimson.  It always mesmerized me to look down from a mountain pass and see fiery colors stretching for miles through valleys and over hills only to be broken up by the deep phalo-greens of the conifers. Having lived in Southern California for 7 years now I realize that some of the things that represented a shift in seasons like colorful leaves and snow are rarities here. In Los Angeles, I am only aware seasons are shifting when I start to see holiday movie billboards and palm trees wrapped in rope lights.

In my last workshop I focused on the science behind leaves changing colors: talking about light absorption and reflection, leaf anatomy, and transpiration.  In preparation, I collected data and images but I kept coming up short when I ventured into the park to collect leaves because they simply 1444 weren’t changing colors.  Because of our maritime climate much of our weather is affected by the Pacific Ocean. The temperature drop that usually triggers trees to stop producing chlorophyll that results in vivid colors occurs at a much slower rate or not at all here. Though not good for bright foliage, this temperate climate is extremely helpful for farmers as their growing season is greatly increased.  Unless one ventures up toward Big Bear, the views in the greater Los Angeles area just don’t match other places in the country for fall foliage.  This made me wonder what local kids thought about pictures of brilliantly colored landscapes, so during my workshop, I showed images of prime fall foliage locations throughout the U.S., primarily the north-west, Colorado and the east coast.  As much as the pictures do not do the actually experience justice I was amazed to watch my workshop participants drop their jaws in disbelief.  I am truly blessed to be able to provide experiences like this even if just through photos. In an ideal world I would have had the budget to include a plane ride over vast groves of aspens turning colors.  Luckily one of my colleagues had just come back from Washington with a vacuum sealed bag full of fall leaves so we were able to compare green leaves with red and yellow ones under microscopes. 

1446 There is something wonderful about growing up in an urban environment full of culture and diversity but there is a tradeoff for the wonders of running through piles of leaves, star gazing, catching frogs and coming home covered in dirt.  Living in Los Angeles has really helped me appreciate my childhood environment, and working at Kidspace I am always inspired to push open-minds closer to the natural world.  With all this said, I do not want to give Southern California a negative review on its natural wonders.  I love hiking and mountain biking and, where in Colorado I might have been annoyed when my favorite outdoor destination was crowded with tourists, I am always overjoyed to see our local mountain ranges full of hikers of all ages even if they are crowded.  Living in the fast paced world of strip malls, TMZ celebrity news, and crisscrossing highways, it is good to know people are being called to connect with nature. 

Here at Kidspace Children's Museum we are committed to helping kids of all ages discover the joy of the natural, creative and scientific world.  Unless otherwise noted we offer 4 workshops monthly hosted by our specialists in the fields of Gardens, Physics, Art and our Nature Exchange. For more information please go to www.kidspacemuseum.org/events/kidspace-workshops for info on our upcoming workshops or go to www.kidspacemuseum.org/connect/contact-us to sign up for our e-blast and get the latest Kidspace events right to your in-box.

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Blog Entry by:

Alan Bruni, Education Specialist, has been with Kidspace since 2008. Born in Germany raised in Colorado, Alan has a strong calling to the outdoors with interests in backpacking, camping, mountain biking, and snowboarding. Also, with a great passion for music, he studies and performs multiple genres as a singer and percussionist. Credentials include BFA in Sculpture, MA in Aesthetic Education, as well as Teaching Credentials from the University of Denver.