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Discovering nature at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

Kidsday reporters Marco Pipia, Gianna D'Alessandro and Kaitlyn

Kidsday reporters Marco Pipia, Gianna D'Alessandro and Kaitlyn Sangese with tour director Vittoria Sondo at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown. Credit: Debra Herbert

Have you ever been to Caleb Smith State Park Preserve? Our school goes there two times a year to learn about ecosystems. It is located on Route 25A in Smithtown.

When we arrived, we met our tour guide, Vittoria Sondo. She explained to us what we would be doing for the day. We went on a nature walk in a forest ecosystem to look for biotic and abiotic things. Do you know what biotic and abiotic mean? Biotic things are living things. We saw many living things on our hike, like birds, deer and plants. Abiotic means nonliving things. Examples of some of the abiotic things we saw were water, dirt and rocks. After our nature walk we took a break and had lunch at the picnic tables outside.

After lunch, we were able to see the animals Vittoria had in her building. She had turtles, fish, frogs and lizards, and we used binoculars to watch the birds outside the window that were eating from the bird feeders. There was a stuffed bear, too. It looked cool, but scary at the same time because it was a real bear.

Then we got to look through microscopes at a lot of interesting bugs that Vittoria collected in water from the pond ecosystem in the park. There were many bugs, or as we say in science, organisms in the water. There were also different types of plants such as algae. We looked at the organisms through two different kinds of microscopes to see what kinds they were.

One of the microscopes was digital so it was like we were looking at the bugs on the TV screen. The other was a regular microscope that we had to look through with our eyes. We saw water boatmen, mayflies, nymphs, freshwater snails, leeches and segmented worms.

We tallied up on a graph how many of each bug and plant we saw. When we were done, we talked about the energy in the ecosystem and which bugs and plants were producers and which were consumers. We also talked about the differences between bugs that are eaten and bugs that do the eating. We had so much fun and recommend this environmental trip to everyone. Visit Western Suffolk BOCES online at

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