bACKyard Biologists

Nantucket Land Council is excited to bring science into your home and backyard with our new bACKyard Biologists program! NLC Resource Ecologist RJ Turcotte will provide instruction and demonstration for simple home-based science experiments for your family to experience together.

In addition, stay tuned for future events and activities such as virtual field trips around our beautiful island to explore vernal pools and other unique ecosystems.  Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @nantucketlandcouncil, and share your adventures with us as well as we explore nature in our backyard! #bACKyardBiologists


Virtual Trips and Lessons

Exploring Vernal Pools
Nantucket’s Sole Source Aquifer

At-Home bACKyard Biologists Experiments

Capillary Action

Have you ever wondered how trees transport water from their roots to their leaves? Well, the answer has to do with a special property of liquids called capillary action. Capillary action is the movement of a liquid along a solid surface due to charges on the liquid and the surface. Plants use capillary action to bring water from the roots up through the stems all the way to the leaves.
Download (PDF)

Pollinator Thaumatrope

Few creatures are as important for our island ecosystems as pollinators. Butterflies, bees, and even some birds serve as pollinators, helping our plants complete their life cycles and provide us with our fruits and vegetables.
This project is a chance for you to illustrate your favorite Nantucket pollinator in its natural habitat.

By using two paper plates, the pollinator is drawn on one and its preferred habitat on the other. Once assembled, the thaumatrope provides the illusion of your pollinator flying amongst your backyard garden.
Download (PDF)

DIY Weather Station Part 3: Anemometer

Few natural forces shape Nantucket as much as wind does. Look around- especially at our trees. Along the perimeter of the island, trees grow crooked, stunted and gnarly. They survive where few others can- in the salt spray zone. Waves crashing on the beaches produce a fine mist which is carried by the wind. This salt spray kills many plants, but not our hardy species such as Atlantic cedar. Not only do they handle the salt spray, they withstand frequent storms, growing crooked from the wind.rainfall from year to year helps us plan everything from managing Nantucket’s Sole Source Aquifer to managing our food crops and flower gardens. In this week’s bACKyard Biologist, we build our own tool for measuring Nantucket’s rainfall.
Download (PDF)

DIY Weather Station Part 2: Thermometer

Every living thing on Nantucket is influenced by the seasonal temperature changes on here. The plants bloom and fruit during the warmer months, birds and fish migrate by the thousands as the seasons change, and even us humans change how we dress and behave based on what the thermometer reads. The thermometer was invented over five centuries ago and is so useful we have them everywhere- our cars, yards, homes, even some businesses show the temperature on their signs! Today we’ll learn how they work, and how to build one right at home.   
Download (PDF)

DIY Weather Station Part 1: Rain Gauge

Humans have been measuring precipitation for thousands of years. Water is our most critical resource and keeping track of rainfall from year to year helps us plan everything from managing Nantucket’s Sole Source Aquifer to managing our food crops and flower gardens. In this week’s bACKyard Biologist, we build our own tool for measuring Nantucket’s rainfall.
Download (PDF)

The Bee Hotel

Spring is in full swing outside, so this week we’re looking at pollinators. Specifically, bees! Not just any bees though. Not honeybees- OUR bees. These solitary critters are docile, excellent pollinators, and love our gardens. Let’s see if we caSpring is in full swing outside, so this week we’re looking at pollinators. Specifically, bees! Not just any bees though. Not honeybees- OUR bees. These solitary critters are docile, excellent pollinators, and love our gardens. Let’s see if we can encourage a few of them to stick around!
Download (PDF)

Ocean Acidification in a Cup, Part 2

Building on what we learned in the first experiment about how our ocean and atmosphere interact, this time we see how a more acidic ocean directly impacts our iconic shell-building species.
Download (PDF)

Cup of vinegar with an egg.

DIY Birdfeeders and Nature Journals

Attract Nantucket’s beautiful birds to your yard! Each year, thousands of colorful, vocal songbirds visit our community- A pinecone, some string, peanut butter and sunflower seed will get you started on a new hobby.
Download (PDF)

DIY bird feeder using seeds.
Watch

Water Cycle in a Bag

Learn how our planet recycles water by creating a tiny enclosed earth, complete with oceans and an atmosphere, from stuff you have in your kitchen!
Download (PDF)

Frog Life Cycle

Welcome to spring on Nantucket! Frogs, one of the hallmarks of spring, are the subject of our craft this week. The frog’s life cycle begins when adult frogs head for water as the weather warms. They lay eggs, large gooey blobs, thousands of them! Tadpoles soon hatch, grow legs, and join their parents as full-fledged frogs. What kinds of frogs do you hear/see in your yard? What other signs of spring are you seeing? Let us know what you find!
Download (PDF)

Frog Life Cycle Craft using egg cartons.

Ocean Acidification in a Cup

Learn how things like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere make our oceans more acidic, even right here on Nantucket! Download (PDF)

Graphic depicting Ocean Acidification.


Thank You Notes from our bACKyard Biologists


Calling our youngest bird watchers! Grab a few pine cones and some birdseed and make a simple DIY bird feeder with @nantucketlandcouncil this week. 🐦 #bACKyardBiologists (link in bio)

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Backyard science project product

#abugslife #backyardbiologists #waspwoman #nofilter

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A sign of warmer weather, snakes such as this common garter snake emerge to warm themselves in the sun. They are ectotherms and can not regulate their own body temperature. #watchyourstep #bACKyardBiologists

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Looking for a fun, easy, and educational project to do with your kids this week? 🐸 check out our bACKyard Biologists project in a frog life cycle craft (link in bio)! Then head out to a pond near you to see the life cycle in action! 🐸💧 #Nantucket #AtHomeLearning #bACKyardBiologists @nantucketlandcouncil

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Have you tried this week’s #bACKyardBiologists experiment? You’ll need some red cabbage, baking soda and vinegar, 2 clear cups, 2 smaller cups to insert into the clear cups, and tape! Watch how carbon dioxide changes the color of the cabbage water in mere minutes right before your eyes, simulating how CO2 changes marine water composition. 🧑‍🔬👩‍🔬💧🧪

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Have you tried our first #bACKyardBiologists at-home experiment? 👩‍🔬🧑‍🔬Take a picture of your family learning about ocean acidification and share on Instagram and/or Facebook – be sure to tag @nantucketlandcouncil and #bACKyard biologists for a chance to win a NLC kids hoodie! #science #nantucket #athomelearning

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