Creatures of the night crawl and lurk

Alexi Prante, Staff Reporter

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The science clubs of CWU come together to create the Nature of Night event which showcases planetarium shows, various nocturnal animals and a room filled with construction paper that has been created to resemble a jungle or cave at nighttime.

The construction paper jungle has various sound effects that mimic a jungle at night, while the cave features fluorescent minerals that can be seen while crawling through with a headlamp.

Nature of Night has occurred during fall quarter for over 20 years and displays the wonders of science and nature that take place during the night.

The College of Sciences partners with the Early Learning Coalition and the Kittitas Environmental Education Network to set up this event.

There are several clubs that come together for the Nature of Night including: Astronomy, Biology, Physics, Women in STEM, Geology and the Primate Awareness Network. The event is open to the public, which means anyone is welcome to come and see what happens in nature after we go to bed.

When children first walk into the event, they will receive a small passport they can take to the different clubs that have activities set up. Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts can also earn their astronomy badges while participating in this event.

“It’s a very family-oriented event, from grandparents to small children. It’s a widespread age range and it helps when more people come and participate,” said Dannica Price, the College of Sciences event coordinator.

There is an average of 400 to 600 people that attend the event, according to Price. People tend to stay for the full four hours due to how many different activities are going on. The event takes about two months to plan. Some clubs take the night before to set up their activity for the event.

One of the clubs that helps out with this event is the Astronomy Club. They put on the planetarium shows, which include scale models of the solar system.

“We do three planetarium shows during this event and show off the spectroscopy experiment which shows what gases stars are made out of,” Jeff Carter, member of Astronomy Club, said.

Carter transferred to CWU as a junior and has been interested in astrophysics since he was a kid, but he knew nothing about it when he arrived on campus.

Another club that participates in the event is the Primate Awareness Network, which has a scavenger hunt called “Madagascar at Night” where students can use flashlights to find nocturnal primate photos hidden in faux foliage.

The Primate Awareness Network is part of the Primate Behavior and Ecology program at CWU, which focuses on the direct and indirect impacts that humans have on primates.

“The Nature of Night event is a highlight for our members because of the interaction with young students. We think the opportunity to educate everyone at this event about the extremely diverse array of nocturnal primates like lemurs [is] unparalleled,” Jake Funkhouser, club president and graduate student from the Primate Behavior program, said.

This is Funkhouser’s fifth year at CWU as he continues to work on his graduate program. Most students that are involved with the Primate Behavior program are in the Primate Awareness Network. According to Funkhouser, the Network hopes that the public will gain a new appreciation for Madagascar’s primates through the event.

The Nature of Night event is for anyone interested in the sciences or what kind of creatures lurk around at night. Whether looking up at the stars or wearing a headlamp and digging through dark caves, there are plenty of activities to explore during this event.

 

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Creatures of the night crawl and lurk