Our 2nd field trip while in Texas was to the Austin Science and Nature Center.
After researching their website in preparation for our trip I saw that they offer educational programs to homeschoolers and schools. Here our focus was on Bats so we signed up for Bat Buddies ($55) to learn about the Mexican free-tail bats that migrate regularly to Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge (home of the largest urban bat colony).
In preparation for our study on bats we read the following books before our trip:
I think the 3 instructors we had for our Bat Buddies lecture were surprised by all the things the kids already knew about bats.
They put on a wonderful program for us, which included:
– slide show on bats
– discussion of parts of a bat including skeleton model
– opportunity to view a real leaf bat
– creating our own Passport Academy Bat
– playing a game that demonstrated echolocation
One thing we learned, that we had not previously read about, was the difference between a microbat and a mega bat. Mega Bats have BIG EYES/small ears and don’t use echolocation since they mostly eat fruit. Micro Bats have SMALL eyes/big ears and DO use echolocation since they eat insects.
Inside the Visitors Center there is also a lot of hands on activities and exhibits that should not be missed. We really enjoyed looking at the fossils, skeletons, snake shed, displays and using the microscope. A microscope is definitely on our Christmas list!
We spent almost 3 hours here and went first thing in the morning with a 9am presentation. I would recommend that if you want to avoid the school field trip crowds.