Searching for bats in Balboa Park!

As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.
As evening approaches, people slowly gather by the Balboa Park lily pond to watch for bats. The event was organized by the San Diego Natural History Museum.

This evening I joined a small group of people by the Lily Pond in Balboa Park searching for bats!

The San Diego Natural History Museum held the dusk event as part of the 2018 City Nature Challenge. The worldwide challenge–which is being held in almost 70 cities– encourages ordinary citizens to use their smartphones to record as many local flora and fauna as they can over a 4-day period. Images are submitted via the iNaturalist APP for identification! (If you want to see San Diego County’s totals thus far, here’s the link.)

Anyway, I arrived at the Lily Pond before sunset and was greeted by a couple of friendly experts representing the San Diego Natural History Museum. I was shown some cool equipment, videos and specimens, then stood by as a super sensitive microphone was turned on in order to detect the high frequency ultrasonic chirp-like noises produced by echolocating bats!

While we waited and the sky darkened, I learned a few fascinating facts. I learned that the bats most common in Balboa Park are the Mexican free-tailed bat, the hoary bat, and the western red bat. I learned some bats are solitary, and feed where insects aren’t abundant enough to support large colonies of bats. I learned bats drink by rapidly skimming above a body of water– which has been observed at the park’s lily pond. I learned some bats can fly as fast as a hundred miles per hour and as high as 10,000 feet! I also learned bats often feed around lights where flying insects gather, often live in the dead fronds of palm trees, and absolutely love hanging out under bridges.

Did we see or detect any bats? None were seen in the darkness, but the microphone did record the acoustic signature of a nearby Mexican free-tail!

When bats fly about and utilize echolocation, a microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bats can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
When bats fly about and use echolocation, a sensitive microphone detects the high frequency sound and software produces a sonogram. Different bat species can be recognized by their unique acoustic signatures.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
Demonstrating a powerful directional microphone, which is mounted on a long pole.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
A friendly volunteer who travels around the county observing and recording bats points to several preserved specimens. The one indicated is a Mexican free-tailed.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Several people have gathered to learn about bats shortly before dusk. A curious duck listens in.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Bats often live in the dead clustered fronds of palm trees. I see a passing gull and a nearly full moon above the Casa del Prado.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Darkening palm trees above the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Perhaps some bats are hanging out in these.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but it must have been too chilly this evening for much activity.
Pointing at the cool bat-detecting instrument. As darkness fell, we recorded one Mexican free-tailed bat, but apparently it was too cold this evening for much bat activity.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Contemporary art program for students in San Diego.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has a special Extended School Partnership (ESP) program for local 6-12th-grade students. Teachers have the opportunity to expose their students to contemporary art in partnership with the museum.

Students are taught about art making, collaboration and, according to a new sign posted near MCASD’s downtown location, their own identity, solidarity and activism. (As someone who is passionate about writing, I hope there’s an emphasis on personal freedom, truth-seeking and authentic creativity–not politics or propaganda.)

Yesterday I took a photograph of this sign in the breezeway between downtown’s Santa Fe Depot and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. The two art panels were created by local students at Valhalla High School.

Read the sign if you’d like to learn more about this program.

(Click this photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
(Click this photo to enlarge for easy reading.)

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Dance on Sunday afternoons in Balboa Park!

On Sunday afternoons I seem to be spending more and more time in the grand Ballroom of the Balboa Park Club. Cushioned chairs line the walls, and I can sit peacefully as I read or write, listening to gentle, sprightly folk music, occasionally looking up at happy people dancing.

I don’t do much in the way of dancing–not with my feet. But I’m sure some of you do! And I bet some of you’d like to learn all sorts of different folk dances!

I spoke to a nice lady who is a member of one of Balboa Park’s dance clubs, and she told me they are looking to grow their membership. There’s an opportunity for ordinary people with varying levels of experience to learn folk dances from many different cultures. And each lesson costs only a couple bucks!

As you can see from one of my photos, kids and parents can also learn how to dance the third Sunday of every month, from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. Sounds like fun!

Interested? Visit the International Dance Association of San Diego County website by clicking here!

If you can walk, you can dance!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

San Diego students learn STEM through aviation!

Cool aircraft are displayed during an event at Gillespie Field by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force.
Cool aircraft are displayed during an event at Gillespie Field by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force.

Today I headed to Gillespie Field in El Cajon and checked out an Expo organized by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force. As I walked among all sorts of restored World War II aircraft and a wide variety of fascinating exhibits, I made a very cool discovery!

Students in San Diego are invited by Air Group One to participate in a special aviation-themed STEM educational program! The special program is designed for middle and high school aged youth. Ricardo Sevilla, the friendly A-STEM Educational Officer, walked over to introduce himself to me, and I learned a little bit about this truly amazing opportunity.

S.T.E.M subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) can be taught to students in San Diego classrooms or at Air Group One’s super cool Gillespie Field headquarters, where there are a variety of potential hands-on activities. Topics that are featured include how to become a pilot, how to operate a drone, how to build a rocket, and the aerodynamics and design concepts that enable an airplane to fly. Potential careers in aviation and the aerospace industry are also introduced. Sounds like lots of fun!

Are you a teacher in San Diego who’d like to learn more? Wouldn’t your students be thrilled to visit an actual airfield? Check out this page of the Air Group One website!

Banner promotes Air Group One's Aviation Educational Programs.
Banner promotes Air Group One’s Aviation Educational Programs.
Air Group One's historic 1943 SNJ-5 "Sassy" on the tarmac at Gillespie Field.
Air Group One’s historic 1943 SNJ-5 “Sassy” on the tarmac at Gillespie Field.
Flyer describes an exciting ASTEM educational program offered by Air Group One.
Flyer describes an exciting ASTEM educational program offered by Air Group One.
If you're interested, use the email shown in this photograph.
If you’re interested, use the email shown in this photograph.
Learning about aviation can help a student take flight and discover new horizons!
Learning about aviation can help a student take flight and discover new horizons!

I’ll be blogging about today’s fantastic event at Gillespie Field as soon as I get my photographs together!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Kids create Minecraft-style Mona Lisa mural!

Washington Elementary students create abstract Mona Lisa chalk art during 2014 Festa in Little Italy. It would later become the basis for some cool public art!
Washington Elementary students create abstract Mona Lisa chalk art during 2014 Festa in Little Italy. As you will see, it would later become the basis for a very cool public mural!

Students at Washington Elementary STEAM Magnet School in Little Italy have helped to produce a very cool public art mural! As motorists depart Little Italy, turning onto southbound Interstate 5 from Grape Street, they are greeted by a colorful Minecraft-style Mona Lisa along with the big word CIAO!

The abstract 20′ x 20′ Mona Lisa mural is based on chalk art that Washington Elementary School kids created for 2014 Festa, an annual Italian-themed festival in their very own Little Italy neighborhood.

I happened to blog about Festa that year, and took the above photo of the kids working on the original Mona Lisa chalk art. With the help of local artist Jayne Barnett, their completed work would eventually become a very large, very creative mural that thousands of delighted drivers pass every day!

Mine-A-Lisa's Salutation. The Little Italy mural is a much larger recreation of chalk art created by students at 2014 Festa. The Italian art-themed piece was rendered using "bricks" of color in the Minecraft style.
Mine-A-Lisa’s Salutation. The Little Italy mural is a much larger recreation of chalk art created by students at 2014 Festa. The Italian art-themed piece was rendered using “bricks” of color in the Minecraft style.
An abstract Mona Lisa mural greets cars with a large CIAO as drivers head onto southbound I-5 from Grape Street!
Mona Lisa says goodbye to everyone with a large CIAO as drivers head onto southbound I-5 from Grape Street!

If you’d like to see more chalk art created during 2014 Festa, including many amazing pieces produced by students from schools all around San Diego,¬†click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Art from different colleges across San Diego.

Visitors to the gallery on the 9th floor of the downtown San Diego Central Library look at some fascinating artwork.
Visitors to the gallery on the 9th floor of the downtown San Diego Central Library look at some fascinating artwork.

A fantastic exhibition is now open free to the public in the 9th floor gallery at San Diego’s Central Library. You Are Here features work from art students and professors at 13 different institutions of higher education around San Diego County.

Not only is this exhibition an opportunity for talented artists to show their creative work in public, but visitors to the Central Library can learn a little about each school’s unique art program.

I took photos of some of the artwork. Please swing on by–you’ll be impressed by the quality of these imaginative, evocative pieces. You Are Here runs through May 6, 2018.

You Are Here, a special exhibition in the Central Library's gallery, collects the work of 26 artists from 13 different higher education art departments across San Diego.
You Are Here, a special exhibition in the Central Library’s gallery, collects the work of 26 artists from 13 different higher education art departments across San Diego.
Diverse examples of thought-inducing visual art attract curious eyes.
Diverse examples of thought-inducing visual art attract curious eyes.
Space Ships, Wendell M. Kling, Professor of Art, San Diego Mesa College, 2013-present.
Space Ships, Wendell M. Kling, Professor of Art, San Diego Mesa College, 2013-present.
Hubcap Milagro for Chunky, David Avalos, Professor of Visual Arts, California State University San Marcos, 2011.
Hubcap Milagro for Chunky, David Avalos, Professor of Visual Arts, California State University San Marcos, 2011.
Untitled, Monique Van Genderen, Associate Professor of Art, UC San Diego, 2017.
Untitled, Monique Van Genderen, Associate Professor of Art, UC San Diego, 2017.
Pink Cactus Moon Rock, Corina Bilandzija, Student, Palomar College, 2017.
Pink Cactus Moon Rock, Corina Bilandzija, Student, Palomar College, 2017.
Warm Lights, Niki Ito, International Student, San Diego City College, 2017.
Warm Lights, Niki Ito, International Student, San Diego City College, 2017.
Hair, Larissa Lopez, Past Student, Cuyamaca Community College, 2017.
Hair, Larissa Lopez, Past Student, Cuyamaca Community College, 2017.
Ophelia, Hanna Hunter, Student, San Diego Miramar College, 2016.
Ophelia, Hanna Hunter, Student, San Diego Miramar College, 2016.

Do you enjoy discovering new things? I do! My camera is always ready during my long walks around San Diego!

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Science questions that curious kids can ask.

How was Earth made. How many skin cells do we have.
How was the Earth made? How many skin cells do we have?

Thousands of kids attended the 2018 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering EXPO Day event today at Petco Park. The annual festival of STEM learning features all sorts of fun activities and demonstrations presented by dozens of local schools, universities, businesses and organizations.

Kids wandering from booth to booth were encouraged to ask a variety of fascinating questions. Young minds learned about physics, medical research, information technology, space exploration, environmental science . . . The number of scientific subjects seemed unlimited.

Fun experiments were performed. Conclusions resulted. More questions arose.

That’s how science works!

As I wandered about the festival I discovered some questions that curious kids might ask…

Thousands of curious kids attend EXPO Day at Petco Park during the 2018 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering.
Thousands of curious kids attended EXPO Day at Petco Park during the 2018 San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering.
To help support STEM learning in San Diego and the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, read this banner.
To help support STEM learning in San Diego and the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, read this banner.
How is curiosity a driving force behind human progress and development.
How is curiosity a driving force behind human progress and development?
What is in snot. How does mucus neutralize an invading virus.
What is in snot? How does mucus neutralize an invading virus?
How does a snake move.
How does a snake move?
Why is math important. Why are puzzles so much fun.
Why is math important? Why are puzzles so stimulating?
What are amino acids.
What are amino acids?
What is symmetry. Why is it found in plants and animals.
What is symmetry? Why is it found in plants and animals?
Can creative people and scientists be superheroes
Can creative people and scientists be real superheroes?
Can science be fun. Can you make a rap song about something scientific.
Can science be entertaining? Can you invent a rap song about something scientific?
What is a molecule.
What is a molecule? What is an atom? Is anything smaller than an atom?
What is oobleck. Where did the word come from. How do you make it.
What is oobleck? What Dr. Seuss book did the word come from?
How do you make a secret code. How do you decipher a code.
How do you make a secret code? How do you decipher a code?
Can little robots destroy cancer. Why do earthquakes become so strong in some cases.
Can little robots destroy cancer? Why do earthquakes become so strong in some cases?
What is light.
What is light?
How does a flamingo become pink.
How does a flamingo become pink?
What is static electricity.
What is static electricity?
What are comets made of.
What are comets made of?
How was the first cell created. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
How was the first cell created? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
What is the extracellular matrix.
What is the extracellular matrix?
How does your heart work. How do you keep it healthy.
How does your heart work? How do you keep it healthy?
How do we stop pollution.
How do we stop pollution?
Is fusion the energy for the future of mankind.
Is fusion the energy for the future of mankind?
How can we remember many things like language. Why are some people so tall when their parents are so short.
How can we remember many things like language? Why are some people so tall when their parents are so short?
Why does a jellyfish glow.
Why does a jellyfish glow?
Why is this silly guy acting like a jellyfish.
Why is this silly guy acting like a jellyfish?
How does the Earth stay in orbit. How can people help the Earth stay healthy.
How does the Earth stay in orbit? How can people help the Earth stay healthy?
What is it like to be in space. How do you become an astronaut.
What does it feel like to be in outer space? How do you become an astronaut?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!