Cemetery Lichens

Ghosts and Goblins in a cemetery for Hallowe’en?
Why not consider lichens as an alternative? Lichens are friendly and interesting organisms that love to grow on headstones and old trees. They are harmless to your plants and add aesthetic value to trees and shrubs. We can actually use them as indicators of air pollution!
Cemeteries can take on new meaning as a fun place to observe a symbiotic organism made up of fungus and algae. You will also learn about common lichens found in an urban environment and take home a user-friendly chart that lists lichens found in your neighborhood. Join Dr. Katherine Glew and the UW Botanic Gardens on Saturday, October 27 to get a head start on learning lichens from your local cemetery. You can enjoy Hallowe’en looking for lichens rather than scary witches and pumpkin heads.

Seattle U’s Center for Science and Innovation will give school new presence on 12th Ave

The number of science and technology majors at Seattle University is surging, and the school is planning a new building to house them all. The project will continue the school’s recent trend of developing its edges and creating new buildings that connect more solidly to the surrounding neighborhood blocks.

There are about 1,200 students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields at Seattle U right now, said Michael Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. Quinn expects that number to grow to nearly 1,600 by 2023, about double from the 900 students they’d had in 2009. Continue reading

Free Family Weekend Walk: Swing into Spring

How do we know the seasons are changing? What lets us know that spring is on its way? Clues can be found all around us—especially outside! Adventure to the Washington Park Arboretum to embark on this seasonal investigation with us.

Bring the whole family for an hour and half themed walk. During this free public tour, we will stop along the way for games, hands-on activities and learning geared toward children (2-12 years old) and their caregivers. Tour groups gather in front of the Graham Visitors Center at 1:00pm, 2nd and 4th Saturdays February-June.

Family Nature Class

Join us for a Family Nature Class and make connections with the natural world that will last a lifetime! Through science-based exploration and outdoor play, preschoolers and their caregivers will experience the UW Botanic Gardens using their senses.

Each class begins with an opportunity to explore several learning stations based on the week’s theme where children can practice fine motor skills, sensory investigation, creativity, and pre-math and literacy skills. Station time is followed by an opening circle and hike where the group will play games, listen to a story and further explore the weekly theme. Family Nature Class is a great way to get outside with your preschooler, foster curiosity and explore the natural world.

Keeping A Field Journal: Tools, Techniques, and Tips

Learn the basics of keeping a field journal from a certified natural science illustrator. This class will cover the basics of useful supplies to fundamental techniques for field journaling. It will also go over examples of layout design for field journals, how to prepare to draw in the field no matter what the conditions, and it will introduce you to a few great authors and illustrators who work in the natural science illustration field. Come prepared with your preferred pen and pencil to do some short drawing exercises.


The class is free, but pre-registration is requested. Suggested $5 donation at the door.


Instructor Sage Stowell has a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in wilderness studies from the University of Montana in Missoula. She developed an interest in natural science illustration during college while in a field-based learning program called Wilderness and Civilization. In June 2016, she completed a year-long certificate program in natural science illustration at the University of Washington. Sage is now in the Masters of Environmental Horticulture program at UW.

Climate Change Impacts on Forests & Snowpack

How bad will forest fires be in the future? Will the snowpack be enough for the  ski season, and will it supply enough water to last the summer?
Diana Gergel, Graduate Fellow, Northwest Climate Science Center, will speak on global warming impacts on snowpack and forest fire risk in the Western United States. This talk is part of a climate change series by Cascadia Climate Action.

2016 Bioblitz

A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and community volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period.

Join us on May 6-7 as we look for bats, birds, insects, lichens, weeds, spiders, and mussels at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Friday night we will have “Introduction to BioBlitz” activities, and walks with our naturalist for families with kids 4-11. Stop in anytime between 4-7pm!  We will also stay out late to look for bats from 8-10pm.

Saturday we will search for birds at daybreak, insects, lichens, and noxious weeds in the morning, then spiders, plants, and freshwater mussels/macroinvertebrates in the afternoon.

Children are welcome in all groups.

RSVP for an organism group (or taxa) online, by phone (206-685-8033), or by email (uwbgeduc@uw.edu)

Full Schedule

  • Friday, May 6th
    4-7pm – Family BioBlitz Activities
    8-10pm – Bats
  • Saturday, May 7th
    6:30-9am – Birds
    9-11:30am – Insects, Lichens, Noxious Weeds
    12:30-3pm – Spiders, Plants, Freshwater Mussels/Macroinvertebrates

Fiddleheads Family Nature Class

Join us for a Fiddleheads Family Nature Class this fall, and make connections with the natural world that will last a lifetime. Through science-based exploration and outdoor play preschoolers and their caregivers will experience the UW Botanic Gardens using their senses.
Class will begin with an opportunity to explore several learning stations based on the week’s theme where your child can practice fine motor skills, sensory investigation, creativity, and pre-math and literacy skills. Then the group will gather together to do a name rhyme and topic introduction before heading out on a hike.
Along the way, we will play a game and listen to a story related to the theme. Above all, we will explore and let the natural curiosity of the young ones direct our adventures.

Fall back Sunday, Capitol Hill

Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour overnight so you’re ready to roll Sunday morning. Why? Ask NASA:

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the concept of Daylight Saving Time. The basic idea is to make the best use of daylight hours by shifting the clock forward in the Spring and backward in the Fall.

Simple enough. Oh, by the way, with what we expect will be a massive pile of Capitol Hill Halloween photos to share, there will be no This week in Capitol Hill pictures this week. Tune in next week!

What’s Up There? Understanding the Heavens in China

Astronomy in ancient China was very different from what we know of astronomy in the ancient west. We have no idea how Ptolemy of Alexandria (author of the Almagest) earned a living, but many of those who worked on astronomy in China had salaried jobs with the imperial government. That enabled them to amass years of records of observations of eclipses, comets, Novae (unparalleled in other cultures and still useful to modern astrophysicists), and motivated them to devise ever more precise schemes for predicting the motions of the celestial bodies. In this talk, Professor Christopher Cullen, Needham Research Institute, will look at the work of ancient Chinese sky-watchers in the broad context of society and culture that shaped their practice.