Live on Facebook: Explore NJ nature sites with Stockton professor
If you love nature and are looking for a fun science lesson while in quarantine, a Stockton University professor is offering nature tours on Facebook Live.
Every Friday, through at least the month of May, Aaron Stoler, assistant professor of environmental science, is using his cellphone and Facebook Live to share lessons on wetlands, ecosystems of the Pine Barrens, sustainable features on Stockton's campus and more.
Last Friday, Stoler explored a vernal wetland on the campus, trying to find frogs. This Friday, he plans to take everyone on a hike through some of Stockton's experimental burn plots. He'll talk about the science behind those experiments, identify plants and talk about the ecology of fire-mediated succession.
In two weeks, Stoler will take a hike through a swamp in search of sundews and discuss the science of swamps and the ecology of carnivorous plants.
Stoler said his favorite place on Stockton's campus is the Atlantic white cedar swamps. On his May 22 livestream, he will hike through one of these swamps, discuss the ecology and identify some of their most important plants.
On May 29, he plans to motor along the Mullica River in a powered canoe checking out some of the marsh ecosystems.
He decided to livestream these nature events because it's a great way to reach out to students and the entire community during a time when people are limited in their movement.
Like all teachers on the Stockton campus, Stoler was forced to turn his classroom into a virtual one. He said there's not much of an opportunity in a virtual classroom to practice ecology.
"This started off as a one-and-done deal to showcase a cool ecosystem to the community and advertise Stockton to the community. But then I realized it really is a great opportunity to bring students who have been homebound back into the field." said Stoler.
The science lessons and tours are meant to appeal to middle school students through adults. He envisioned this as something that a parent and a child could both enjoy.
He hopes to continue these livestream lessons past May and even after the COVID-19 quarantine ends in New Jersey.
Livestreams take place on the Stockton School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Facebook page, which is a public page at facebook.com/stockton.nams on Fridays at 3 p.m.
Stoler said he doesn't know everything so if anyone has any great ideas, or wants to co-host a livestream with him or showcase their expertise in the ecology, feel free to contact him at email@example.com.