“Discovery Garden,” also known as “DIG,” a summer program for children offered at Erskine College for the fifth consecutive year and led jointly by Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Jan Haldeman and Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Naoma Nelsen, hosted two weeklong sessions in June, one for five- to seven-year-olds, and another for eight- to ten-year-olds.
This year’s Discovery Garden theme was “Music in the Garden.”
Composer Lavinia Parker, whose two children participated in DIG, joined the Discovery Garden staff this year, helped by her husband, Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Brad Parker, who played nature-inspired compositions on the harpsichord.
Haldeman said the children also paid close attention to sounds produced by birds, insects, trees, and wind; listened to recordings of nature-inspired music; and made instruments from straws, paper, and plastic bags, attempting to produce nature-inspired musical sounds.
Dovetailing with the emphasis on music was a focus on uses for native and exotic bamboo. “Young gardeners constructed bamboo wind chimes from bamboo growing on campus across from the science center,” Haldeman said.
Other uses for bamboo included the harvesting of a larger variety for use as plant pots. An Abbeville restaurant, China Kitchen, “donated bamboo chopsticks for everyone, and canned bamboo shoots for demonstration,” Haldeman said.
The children created garden stones decorated with pieces of stained glass and tiles, learned about germination and seedling response to gravity, and even made seed balls or ‘bombs,’ and dropped some of them on barren areas around the campus.
She said Erskine’s Aramark facilities staff was “especially helpful,” preparing name tags cut from small oak branches and sectioning long stalks of bamboo into planters and parts for wind chimes.
This year’s Discovery Garden (DIG) t-shirts, designed by local artist Barbara Ervin ’77, featured South Carolina’s state insect, the Carolina Praying Mantis, as well as the state amphibian, the Spotted Salamander.
“Two live spotted salamanders were models for an art project creating clay spotted salamanders,” Haldeman said. “The children learned about shade gardens, and shade-loving plants, including ferns and hostas. They planted these in the Pressly Garden as well as all along the Mall side of Daniel•Moultrie Science Center.”
The program’s base for outdoor activities was the Pressly Family Heritage Garden, located behind the science center.
Assisting Haldeman and Nelsen were two student assistants, rising senior biology major Blake Robinson and rising sophomore biology major Taylor Alewine. Volunteers included Casey Hughes, who was a student assistant last year, and Nancy Haldeman Cochran.
For more DIG photos, see the following link: