The caterpillar grabbed the attention of 5-year-old Kali Hickman while her 2-year-old sister, Lydia Hickman, wandered a bit.
But when Natalie Haley, park and education manager at Fox Island County Park and Nature Preserve, brought out the Eyeclops with the power to magnify an object or creature 800 times its size, Kali's interest turned into concentration. She watched the caterpillar up close eating milkweed in real time. And she learned the caterpillar would eventually be one of the butterflies kept in a soft, mesh covered cage next to Haley.
Allen County Parks was one of several booths at Science Central Sunday for the Teacher Resource Fair. Other booths included Allen County Partnership for Water Quality, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, The History Center, Indiana Donor Network, Little River Wetlands Project, McMillen Health and Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation.
Haley said Allen County Parks expects more field trips this year after the pandemic shut down many activities.
But the organizations are ready to come into the schools as well. The Parks system has retired biology teacher Ron Divelbiss, who will give lessons in dissection, cellular respirations and anatomy. Although he specializes in high school students, “he knows how to do pre-school as well,” Haley said.
At the Youtheatre table, it was all about field trips with “Charlotte's Web” kicking off the season on Oct. 11. Tickets are $7 and for every 10 students, one free adult ticket is available, said Kimee Gearhart, a Youtheatre alum and Purdue Fort Wayne theater student who works part-time for the organization.
Three other performances in the 2021-22 season include “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” the musical “Elf Jr.” and a play about Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic novel “Little Women.”
Before the performances, teachers are supplied with a study guide for the show to be used as an educational tool.
Gearhart said she had an English teacher interested in “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” the Shakespeare favorite condensed to 60 minutes.
Amy Alexander, Science Central's education director, said this year was the second year for the Teacher Resource Fair presented by Trine University.
The Eyeclops continued to be the hit of at least one corner of Science Central. Manufactured by JAKKS Pacific, the toy can also be used as a camera to take photos and record videos. Bystanders were amazed it only cost $39 and was available commercially, according to Haley.
Tami and Chris Hickman brought their granddaughters to Science Central and Kali soon moved on from the caterpillar to create a light sculpture.
But the Hickmans, from Warsaw, make a day of it in Fort Wayne, Tami Hickman said.
“I do my grocery shopping here,” Tami Hickman explained, which includes stops at Three Rivers Natural Grocery Food Co-op and Fresh Thyme.