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Museum to celebrate Earth Day with special night-time activities

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Kauffman Museum will mark Earth Day, April 22, with an "Earth Day Evening Adventure" that will involve what’s at your feet to what’s high overhead. People of all ages can listen for frogs and owls, take an evening hike, look at the night sky through a powerful telescope at the Mabee Observatory on the Bethel College campus and roast marshmallows around a campfire.

"Since the actual Earth Day falls on a Friday this year, we can do some special things that wouldn’t work well on a school night," says Andi Schmidt Andres, Kauffman Museum curator of education. "For example, we’ve been wanting to do something in collaboration with the Mabee Observatory, and this seemed like a good chance."

Those who want to do the hike should plan to meet at Kauffman Museum, Main and 27th Streets in North Newton, at 7:45 p.m. Bethel College professor emeritus of biology Dwight Platt of North Newton will be leading the evening hike on Sand Creek Trail just north and east of the Bethel College campus.

"Before the hike, Dwight will give a short introduction to the kinds of animals we might hear along the trail in the evening," says Andres. "Our plan is to go to an area of the trail where we can sit quietly while Dwight plays a recording of owl sounds to see if we can call in some real owls. Then we’ll walk down to the creek and listen for frogs, and see if we can identify different species according to the sounds they make."

This part of the evening’s activities will run until 9 p.m. From 9-9:45, the group will be in the observatory, on top of Krehbiel Science Center, where Bethel College staff person Luke Schmidt will guide the use of the telescope. There will also be sky viewing on the outdoor observation deck.

Following the session at the observatory, there will be a campfire at Memorial Grove at the Sand Creek trailhead, from 9:45-10:30. People are welcome to join in at any point along the way, Andres says.

Participants are asked to bring their own flashlights and water bottles. The museum will provide supplies for roasting marshmallows.

Because all activities will take place outdoors, they will be cancelled in case of heavy rain or storms. If there is only light rain, the frog and owl hike might still go on, Andres says, but the observatory visit and campfire will be cancelled. A cloudy evening means the observatory will be closed but other activities will take place as scheduled.

There is no charge and no reservations required, and everyone is welcome. For more information, call the museum at (316) 283-1612. Hours are 9:30-4:30 Tuesday-Friday and 1:30-4:30 Sunday.

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