By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
Kids are “natural scientists,” so here is something that is perfect for them — and really, for anyone of any age with a curiosity about our natural world: the BioBlitz coming up this weekend, May 20-21, 2016. At a BioBlitz, you team up with volunteer scientists and educators along with other members of your community to try to identify as many species of plants, animals, and organisms in one place as possible.
BioBlitz activities offer education, adventure, and fun. More than 250 such events are taking place around the country this year. Below are some of the ones coming up in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. Most events take place both days, Friday and Saturday, and all have free admission.
National Geographic DC BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival, May 20-21
National Mall, Washington, DC
Scientists will lead guests on a special informative tour, pointing out nearby natural attractions. If you sign up to officially participate, you’ll join a biological species counting expedition, and your team could be the first to find a new species. There’s also the all-day (9 am-5 pm) Biodiversity Festival both days, with hands-on science exhibits, family-friendly entertainment and activities, art, and food. You’ll get to play games, learn about bees, watch Hawaiian and Native American dancing, meet National Forest Service’s Woodsy the Owl, and more (see the full schedule of events). Adults also can say for the Friday night Bugs, Bats, & Brews event with live music and a beer garden.
National Parks Bio Blitz at Manassas Battlefield, May 20-21
Join teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible. The Manassas Bioblitz and Discovery Festival will focus on native bees, plants, macroinvertebrates, and other insects. You can come participate in the station inventories anytime between 9 am and 4 pm. Bird and Tree Surveys for Friday and Saturday require online registration. See the full list of events.
National Parks BioBlitz at Wolf Trap National Park, May 21
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has volunteer spots open on May 21 to participate in one of various inventories of different levels (easy, medium, or difficult). Event start times are from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm and include opportunities for spotting birds, pollinators, fungi, plants, and macroinvertebrates. Sign up online.
National Parks BioBlitz at Prince William Forest State Park, May 20-21
Inventories at Prince William Forest State Park take place between 10 am and 6 pm both days. Participants will conduct inventories of reptiles, butterflies, and wetland plants. Sign up online.
National Parks BioBlitz at GW Parkway Dyke Marsh, May 20-21
Dyke Marsh is one of the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetlands in the Washington metropolitan area. During “Arachnoblitz” on May 20 and 21, you can help identify spiders in Belle Haven Park and Dyke Marsh. Volunteers will collect them and take them to an expert for identification. Sign up or this and many other DC BioBlitz events through National Geographic’s EventBrite site.