Last Thursday, four legged creatures were all the buzz at The Community Co-op!  The muons welcomed a new (furry) friend, the quarks/protons went on a bear hunt, and the neutrons explored a cave!  Read on to learn of our adventures.


Today, the Muons constructed a cardboard maze for a live white mouse which has now become a Co-op “asset”, affectionately named “Colby Jack” by the Muon group. The maze was designed to introduce several concepts pertaining to classical conditioning, animal behavior, and learning curves. We discussed what classical conditioning is, and how it relates to the experiments of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and his famous “Pavlov’s Dog” experiment.
We also discussed the “Bobo the Clown” experiment, as conducted by Albert Bandura where two groups of children were shown two distinctive films displaying manners in which a blow up clown could be played with. One video included combative play, while the other included nurturing play. The results of the experiment showed that children could be conditioned to play according to models they saw on television. This sparked a conversation about violent video games, and their impact on modern society. The insight the Muons had on this topic was impressive, to say the least.
Lastly, we discussed both positive and negative stimuli as a form of classical conditioning, then we set about placing our little mouse “Colby Jack” in the maze for his first few runs. The Muons used “negative stimulus” (a blunt end of a pencil) to gently persuade the mouse away from the wrong path, in order to show him the correct path to the “positive stimulus” (cheese). As it tuned out, he was not too interested in the cheese, but he did substantially decrease the time it took to reach his goal by over 90 seconds after 5 tries primarily using negative stimulus! Once we got to the park after Co-op, the kids discovered he enjoyed sunflower seeds most. We’ll be using that for a “positive stimulus” in upcoming experiments!
This week I gave an introduction to nature study.  We discussed different ways to study nature such as making observations and sketches.  Each child received a field journal and wrote a brief description about what nature is to them. Then we headed outside to play a game called Owls versus Crows.  The children had to determine whether statements I made were true or false and then run to the appropriate roost.  Many of the statements pertained to owls and crows such as “A great horned owl has horns like a bull” FALSE and “Male and female crows generally pair bond for life.” TRUE

We did a few exercises without speaking. First, we pretended to be a apple seed in the ground, slowly we emerged as a sapling, and then we became an apple tree. Our branches began to get heavier as our apples grew. Then some children came to pick apples off of us. Winter arrived and we went to sleep. Next, we went exploring in a cave and encountered: raccoons, spiders, bats, and bears. We learned that the animals were friendly if we left them alone. We talked about making emotions with our faces and played mirror/mirror.Studio
The children learned about the legend of Johnny Appleseed and how he walked around planting seeds. We discussed how Johnny planted the seeds during the 1800’s. Next, we broke out the legos and had the children make up their own stories/adventures. Some made houses with an animal farm, another made a grocery store with a garden, horses were exploring the moon with a jail, another made a space ship, a seahorse car, and a mechanical contraption (with moving parts).
We centered on rhythm patterns and expressed this through introducing our names and singing songs.  Next we moved to reading, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen.  This book just happens to have a rhythm to it if you read it just right.  So then we, as you might have already guessed, acted it out by saying the words in rhythm and slapping our legs.  It was fun moving our bodies as we pretended going through grass, swimming across a river, squishing through mud, tripping through a forest, walking through a snowstorm, and tip-toeing into a cave to find a….BEAR!!!  The kids did a great job and I’m sure if you ask, they might take you on a bear hunt at home!!
Animal Autumn Adventures at Co-op