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Boston Inspiring Connections Outdoors

Bringing kids outdoors since 1994

November 23, 2013 - Harvard Natural History Museum w/EBNHC

Early on a bright Saturday morning, ICO volunteers Liz, Kate, Maria T., Maria C., and Swastina, met a group of 13 wonderful girls with the Let’s Get Movin’ program at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) for a trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Along with agency volunteers Grace and Malia, the 20 of us hopped on the Blue Line, expecting delays and diversions due to construction along the route. After a few train and bus switches - which actually made for a nice tour of the city - we arrived in Harvard Square. Thrilled to be on campus on a sunny day, the girls got moving immediately, jumping on rock installments and walking on side walls.

When we got to the museum, Liz explained museum rules and Maria C. led our opening circle. She asked everyone to say what animal she would be, and to keep their eyes open for a new favorite animal while exploring the museum. We then broke into three smaller groups and set off to see the collections!

The girls had scavenger hunt sheets where they enjoyed searching for specific paws or beaks, and measuring animals' foot lengths throughout the exhibits. The animal collections and dioramas were a big hit in the Exhibition Hall with gorillas, giraffes, and myriad birds standing out as favorites. Whale skeletons mounted to the ceiling and a collection of dinosaur fossils were also popular. The girls loved some of the interactive exhibits and games throughout the museum, and my group showed a particular interest in learning about the extinction and endangerment of different species.

After seeing the faunal collections, we took the girls to the glass flower exhibit, which holds beautiful, intricate glass models of various plant specimens from around the world. A very helpful docent was very excited to tell the girls about a few of the plants. They learned about how linen is produced, how carnivorous plants consume their prey, and all about cashew harvesting. We then went to the adjacent minerals exhibit where the girls learned about birthstones and minerals, and had a great time looking at the awesome collection of different stones and crystals.

We wrapped up at the museum and moved to the Cambridge Common for an outdoor picnic of sandwiches and snacks. The weather was brisk, so the girls ate quickly. When we finished, we went to the playground briefly, where the girls (and volunteers) loved playing on seesaws and swings. We then set up frisbee and soccer games, and some girls practiced cartwheels, gymnastics and yoga.

I got a pleasant surprise while playing Simon Says. On the first round, one of the girls demanded, "Simon says do five burpees." As I pushed through them, I asked her, "Five burpees?! Whatever happened to 'Simon says touch your head?'" She responded, "But this is Let's Get Movin’! I was going to have you do 10!"

We ended the day with a really fun game of freeze/unfreeze tag (aka angels & demons tag) and then Kate led the closing circle to recap the day. It was fun to hear what the girls’ highlights were from the day, and how many of them decided to change their “original” animal to new ones they had seen in the museum. Then it was time to bundle up to catch to the T for another diverted return trip! All in all, we had a really great time inside and outside on this trip!

Photos from the trip can be viewed here:

~Maria Tucker 

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