OSKALOOSA – The Mahaska County Conservation Board Environmental Learning Center is kicking off the year with some pretty cool programs for children to get involved in.

Science Project Exhibition

The MCCB Environmental Learning Center will host ‘Rockin Science: Kid’s Science Project Exhibitions’ from January through April.

Children of all ages are encouraged to submit displays for science fair projects and, on a first come first serve basis, four children will be selected to have their projects displayed. MCCB Naturalist Laura DeCook said, using their monthly themed topics, the exhibitions will give children the opportunity to create their own project and have the public view it.

“So it’s just a way to create a ‘science fair type’ project and the kids can create their own display for the Environmental Learning Center, therefore they’re learning in the process of making it,” she said. “To kind of help them narrow down what to do, we’ve picked out different topics. So February’s solar systems, March is about weather and April is ecosystems”

January’s topic is “Energy and Motion”. At this time the Environmental Learning Center has not gotten any submissions for January, but it’s not too late for projects to be submitted. For project requirements, or to sign your child up, you may use this link: https://forms.gle/HH7Gd1c9b3eQ7gza6.

Projects can be submitted by children, or a family as a whole can submit their project.

“We have one family signed up later in the spring, that are going to do it as a family. That’s fine too. I mean they’re all participating in the activity they bring it here, and they can show it off.”

In addition to viewing the project, visitors will also be encouraged to leave feedback on the projects for the children that created them.

“The kids can bring it [the project] in at the beginning of the month and pick it up at the end of the month,” DeCook said. “Visitors will be able to comment about it, we’ll have a piece of paper that they can leave comments on what they liked about their project.”

Chosen projects are to be brought to the Environmental Learning Center by the first Monday of each month and taken home by the last Friday of each month.

For questions or for an alternative submission route, you may call Laura DeCook at (641)673-9327 Ext. 2 or email her at decook@mahaskacounty.org.

Junior Naturalist Party

The MCCB Environmental Learning Center will also have its Junior Naturalist Party on Monday, January 6 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Iowa Junior Naturalist Program is a statewide program for children to get involved in. To become an Iowa Junior Naturalist, the MCCB has a form for children to record each program that they attend at the Environmental Learning Center, as well as any nature related home activities that they come with. An adult must initial next to each entry to acknowledge that the child has done it. Once the form is turned in at the end of the year they get a patch and certificate of completion.

“It’s just a way to encourage learning and kind of a commitment to try and learn about the outdoors and be involved,” DeCook said. “We only have a few kids that turned in their forms, so we’ll do a little kickoff and hand out new forms for the year.”

The program is for ages 6 through 18 and forms for 2020 are available for pick up at the Environmental Learning Center and they will be available at the event. The party is open for the public to attend, so any children that did not turn complete the form for 2019 may still attend the party.

DeCook said refreshments, music and there will be a chance to interact with live animals at the party.

Tiffany McDaniel can be reached by phone at (641) 660–9659, by email at tmcdaniel@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @tmcdaniel_osky.

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