Spotlight on MacGyver’s Backyard Science Center. The learning that takes place in this area is exhilarating!
Meet my son MacGyver. His nickname is self explanatory and very fitting. MacGyver makes something out of nothing every single day of his life. When he’s not lost in a whirlwind of creative mess, he’s out exploring the great outdoors in search of creepy crawly critters. Next, comes the whirlwind of creating an observation habitat for each beloved critter. No worries, he observes them, takes care of them and then releases them.
We had one little problem. His room was actually becoming a real big problem. (At least for Mommy.) MacGyver was literally turning his room into his own version of the Salamander Room. He was raising caterpillars, housing two little garter snakes and I can’t even begin to count the variety of insects in plastic recycle containers. (Yes, he was constantly raiding our recycle bin searching for homes for his critters.) His room and our yard looked like a junkyard.
Then Louie entered MacGyver’s life. Our two neighbor boys caught Louie. They quickly alerted MacGyver. After all, MacGyver is the creepy crawly expert! MacGyver determined Louie’s back legs were paralyzed. Sure enough something was wrong with his back legs. MacGyver decided he HAD to care for Louie or he would parish. That did it. It was time for Louie and the little mini zoo to move out of our house!
Easy DIY Backyard Science Center
As a family we designed a backyard science center for MacGyver’s birthday. This was his birthday gift from Mommy and Daddy.
A trip to Ikea and we were ready to assemble . . .
- OMAR Shelving Unit 36 x 36 ($29.99) – This shelf is amazingly sturdy for the price and just the right height for MacGyver and his little sister Miss Engima.
- SAMLA Box with lids – We purchased small, medium and large plastic containers with lids and poked breathing holes in each lid.
- MARIUS stools ($5.99 ea.) – We wanted a place for MacGyver and his friends to sit, work and observe. The stools double as little tables when necessary.
Last we needed an observation table. I remembered that the former owners of our home had left a wooden box in the storage shed. We dug it out. It was gross and the bottom was rotten. Daddy and MacGyver cleaned it up, nailed on a few new boards to replace the rotten bottom and added casters, making the table movable. The inside of the box provides storage for butterfly houses, a magnifying glass and other equipment not being used.
MacGyver desperately wanted to buy Louie an aquarium. Unfortunately, they were horribly expensive. We made a trip to Goodwill and with unbelievable luck, MacGyver purchased an aquarium with a wire lid for $6.00! MacGyver buys crickets and meal worms for Louie and babies him daily. Louie is so docile and appears to even like MacGyver.
Two giant Hercules beetles were among the first guests in MacGyver’s science center. This is Rhino. MacGyver researched Hercules beetles eat rotting plants. He made them a habitat that included our decaying compost.
Raising caterpillars is an ongoing project for MacGyver. He collects caterpillars, identifies them in his field guide and then feeds them the appropriate plants. Above you can see a caterpillar transforming throughout its life cycle. The caterpillar actually shed its skin and changed into its chrysalis in MacGyver’s hand! Wow, how cool to see mother nature in action! He has several net butterfly houses where the butterflies unfurl their wet wings. After a day or two of dinning on oranges MacGyver releases them.
A Variety of Frogs, Toads and Tadpoles have come and gone from the science center. MacGyver is careful to research and create an appropriate habitat for each.
MacGyver considered this millepede a big jackpot! He did a little research and then designed a special habitat. This one totally cracked me up . . . He included and obstacle course for the millipede’s enjoyment . . .
Millepede Obstacle Course . . . not something you see every day! Millepede goes in the tunnel. Millepede crawls through the tunnel. Millepede crawls out the other end of the tunnel. Off to the sandpit for his next adventure.
Zippy the tiny Spiny Texas Lizard (a baby version of Louie) is MacGyver’s most recent guest. At about two inches, he is adorable. I can’t even believe I’m saying that about a lizard. Look at him. You have to admit he’s darn cute.
Family and friends collect critters for MacGyver. Thanks to a church member, he recently added a baby tarantula to his collection. I’m sure he’ll soon have it crawling on his face. Don’t ask me why!
My goal was to get all of the recycled animal habitats and critters out of our home. Unknowingly, MacGyver’s backyard science center has become a genuine place of exploration and learning. These little critters also give MacGyver “real” reasons for reading and researching. He searches for their photos in his field guide books and researches their habitats and what they eat. He is growing into an excellent scientist.
- MacGyver also has two backyard container ponds with fish.
- How he made his simple container pond is a VERY popular post here at waddleeahchaa.com. You might just want to take a peek.
- MacGyver and Miss Enigma are enchanted by the friendly fish!
What backyard science explorations do your children enjoy?
Life with Jeannine