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Nature Near You highlights navigation

By Staff | Jun 10, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Nature Near You participants learned how to read maps and understand the cardinal directions.

The ninth week of Nature Near You, the Sanibel Sea School’s e-newsletter, featured navigation.

Through emails delivered at 9 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Nature Near You participants learned about navigation and navigational tools, such as compasses and maps. Navigation is an important concept to understand – it helps us get from place to place and understand our spatial relationships. Animals also use navigation but in celestial form – the sun, moon and stars aid in their great migrations across the planet.

On May 18, participants learned how compasses work by integrating with Earth’s magnetic field. They discussed magnetic forces and cardinal directions and learned how to read a compass properly. Compasses may seem daunting at first, but with a little orientation, can be easily picked up. Marine Science Educator Sam Nowinski walked participants through the layout of a compass, including the red and black lines that resemble north and south, direction of travel arrow, and numbers on the compass that indicate degree of travel. She also shared steps on making a compass at home using just a few household materials.

On May 20, participants dove into cartography, or the science of map making. Maps are vital to understanding spatial relationships and cardinal directions. Staff also think map making is tons of fun and wanted to take the concept to our own backyards. Marine Science Educator Kealy McNeal shared some phrases to help participants remember the order to write the four cardinal directions (North, East, South, West). Some favorites included: Nice Echinoderms Surf Waves, Nerdy Eels Save Whales, and Nudibranchs Eat Slimy Worms. She then shared tips on how children can map their own backyards and include important map components like the compass rose, as well as a legend and scale. McNeal mapped out her backyard and encouraged youths to try it at home.

The May 22 issue finished up the week on navigation with a unit on celestial navigation. Since animals do not get around using maps and compasses, many animals use natural clues from the sun, moon and stars to find their way. Understanding celestial navigation can be accomplished right from our backyard environments. Staff challenged participants to find which direction sunrise and sunset is using a compass, taught them to find Polaris in the night sky, and even shared steps on creating shadow sticks, or a solar compass.

In our modern world, it is easy for us to rely on GPS on our phones to help us find our way. But it truly is important for everyone to understand the basics of navigation, including how to find the cardinal directions and how to read a map. With this week’s tips and tools, youths can gain confidence and skills to be able to navigate without the aid of electronic GPS – something we all should know how to do.

Nature Near You will continue through June and be delivered via email.

To join the mailing list, email info@sanibelseaschool.org.

The content can also be accessed at www.sanibelseaschool.org/nature-near-you.

Nature Near You is the Sanibel Sea School’s offering for the community. To help support its efforts, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org/support-the-cause or email info@sanibelseaschool.org for information.

Part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation family, the Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.