Tag Archives: Learning

Come to NP McDonald’s Wed. Oct. 28, 5-8 p.m. for treats, not tricks!


This Wednesday is Dani’s Dreams Night at the New Palestine McDonald’s, 5-8 p.m. Join us for T-shirt giveaways at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 and test your nature knowledge with our newsmat! There will also be a special reading of “The Adventures of Ralph Sean Green”. Enjoy a fun, family dinner and help Dani’s Dreams plant the seeds of science and STEM education in Southern Hancock County. We need your support to make it happen!

More about Monarchs and their amazing migration…

By Christina Harkleroad, coordinator,

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center

Drawing by Victoria Miano, second grade, Zion Lutheran School

With Monarch Migration reaching a peak, and the success of our recent Butterflies UPCLOSE event, this week in our Dani’s Dream Outdoor Education column, we will be exploring butterflies. How do they live? What do they eat? How are they born? All these questions and more will be answered.

Monarch butterflies are found all across America. Monarchs spend their winter months in Mexico, but during the summer, they fly to America and even Canada. They can fly thousands of miles to make it to their summer homes. Not sure what monarch butterflies look like? They have black and orange wings and usually have a wing span of 3 ½- 4 inches. Their bodies are black and they have 2 black antennas on their heads. Males have a large black spot on their hind wings and females do not. Monarchs normally eat flower nectar for food. Milkweed flowers, clovers, thistles, goldenrods, ironweed, and sunflowers are all popular foods for monarchs.

Drawing by Lillian Buist, second grade, Zion Lutheran School

Unfortunately, monarchs have a short life-span and live between 3-5 weeks on average. Because their lifespan is short, they must have multiple generations during the summer. By the end of the summer, the last generation must fly to Mexico for their over-wintering period. Monarchs flying north in the spring to the United States will find a mate. As they reach the U.S., the females will look for milkweed to lay their eggs. They eggs hatch after approximately 4 days and over a 2 week period, the caterpillars grow. Once they grow large enough, the caterpillars create a chrysalis or a cocoon and being the process of metamorphosis. The chrysalis is green with yellow spots and it provides protection for the caterpillar. After 2 more weeks, the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. This process continues until it is time for the butterflies to fly back to Mexico.

Right now the Monarchs are just heading into Texas and a few are crossing the border into Mexico. Track this year’s migration on Monarch Watch.

For a fun story to read and learn more about the Monarch Life Cycle, click on “The Adventures of Ralph Sean Green” on our home page.

In the next column, we will be exploring ways other countries are becoming environmentally-friendly.

Get UPCLOSE with butterflies Wed. Sept. 16 at Dani’s Dreams!

butterflies up close poster

Get UpClose with Monarch Butterflies Wed. Sept. 16, 3:30-5 p.m. at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center!

Teacher Brenda Kreutz and the Zion second graders have been working hard, feeding and recording the growth process of close to 50 Monarch caterpillars! The second graders will be conducting tours of the new butterfly pavilion, demonstrating how to feed and hold a butterfly and passing out specially designed stickers.

Willing Hands Designs will be facepainting. Enjoy free treats and check out the debut of Dani’s Dreams newsmat! The event is free and open to all area families.
Donations will be accepted.

What is sustainability? Let’s Find Out…

Christina Harkleroad, center, begins her internship as coordinator at Dani's Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Director Donna Griffin receives a grant from Kara Harrison of the Hancock County Community Foundation for Dani's Dreams Internship Program.
Christina Harkleroad, center, begins her internship as coordinator at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Director Donna Griffin, left, receives a grant from Kara Harrison, right, of the Hancock County Community Foundation for Dani’s Dreams Internship Program.

Director’s note: Each week families will learn about the environment and discover new ways to change the world with a weekly column by Dani’s Dreams’ first intern, Christina Harkleroad, a senior at Indiana University, majoring in International Studies with a concentration in sustainability. Christina is also a Dani’s Dreams Scholarship winner, and graduate of Lutheran High School.
By Christina Harkleroad
Coordinator, Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center

Hello, my name is Christina Harkleroad and I am currently a senior at Indiana University.  I am majoring in International Studies with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability studies.  I enjoy my major because it shows me how interconnected our world is.  Understanding how the world works and how other countries deal with their issues is important in helping us understand our own problems.

Health and the environment are essential issues today and in the future.  Sustainability is a vital issue that needs to be focused on.  If we continue living the way we currently are, the world will be left with no resources. That is why Dani’s Dream is working to educate this generation and future generations about outdoor education.

Education about the environment is a hot topic currently and living more sustainably has become a way of life for many Americans. In this introductory column, at Dani’s Dreams we want to help you understand what sustainability is and offer a few ideas about how to start living more sustainably.
First, what is sustainability? According to the National Science Foundation, sustainability is defined as promoting a system that supports human well-being as well as sustaining environmental systems. To put that in kid-friendly terms, sustainability is living within our environmental limits so we do not harm the environment. Finding a way to live truly sustainably can be challenging. However, Dani’s Dreams’ mission is to change the world!
We can change the world by promoting sustainable actions among our friends and family. Little actions each day can make big differences. First, REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. These ‘3 Rs’ will be your best friends when living sustainably.
1) REDUCE how much waste you leave behind. By reducing waste, we limit how much trash we put into landfills which can harm the environment. Composting is one way to help.
2) REUSE refers to the fact that many times we can reuse something instead of throwing it away. For example, using a reusable water bottle will help you reduce waste.
3) RECYCLING is the easiest way to help the environment. Many forms of trash can be recycled and used again in another product. Plastic can sit in a landfill for over 1,000 years, but can easily be recycled in seconds. Many Hancock County churches and schools have paper recycling drop offs that are also fundraisers. The Hancock County Solid Waste Management recycling guide has a list of locations.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is an easy way to live more sustainably, and the benefits of a healthier environment are worth the extra effort.
In next week’s article, we will be exploring butterflies. If you’re interested in learning more about butterflies, come to Dani’s Dreams for our Butterflies Up-Close event Sept. 16 from 3-5 p.m.

What a Wonderful World! Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run 2015

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The Southern Hancock Community showed up in force Aug. 1 to “Change the World!” at the eighth annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run at New Palestine High School. Nearly 150 walkers/runners of all ages took to the track/course, and more than $2,800 was raised to support Dani’s Dreams events.
Thanks to all those who attended and supported Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center, including our sponsors, Noll Landscape Group, Inc., Hillcrest Tree Farm – Randy Caster, Team Image Screenprint and Embroidery, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans – DeLane W. Sayler, Dr. Sharon Paluga – New Palestine Gentle Dentist, K&K Fence, McDonald’s of New Palestine, Greenfield Walmart, Mama Nita’s Pizza, Auto Air and Heating, Dr. Colleen Pool Family Dentistry, C.D.’s Music Factory, Rose Ivy, LLC; Hancock Family Physicians – New Palestine Family Medicine, Backyard Butterflies and Frady’s Lawn & Landscape; our race participant groups: NP Sole Sisters, the NPHS Girls Soccer Team, the NPHS Volleyball Team, members of Zion Lutheran Church and School and Dani Griffin’s family.
The 2015 winner of the Dani’s Dreams Walk/Run was Rick Sica with a time of 18:55. The women’s winner was Grace Voelz with a time of 22:00. T-shirt design contest winners were honored at a pre-race ceremony: Kate Taylor, first place; Katie McKinley, second place and Paige Taylor, third place. Benton Turner is the 2015 Dani Griffin Innovation in Education Scholarship Winner.
This is only the beginning of our year to “Change the World!” The Butterflies Up Close” project will begin soon and if your class/Scout Troop, etc. would like to be involved, email dgriffins96@gmail.com.

Scholarship winner to join fight against Alzheimer’s

Third Place Paige Taylor
Third Place Paige Taylor

The 2015 Dani Griffin Innovation in Education Memorial Scholarship winner is Benton Turner, 2015 graduate and valedictorian of Lutheran High School, but he was not chosen for his impressive academic accomplishments, but for the power and passion that drives him in his future career path.

Benton, the son of Tracy and James Turner, Greenfield received an Indiana Core 40 Academic Honors Diploma. At Lutheran High School, he was involved in the Academic Super Bowl, Spell Bowl, National Honor Society, Indiana State House Ambassador, varsity golf, Voice of Democracy State Finalist, United States Senate Youth Program State Finalist, Spanish Club and Student Council.

He worked in the community for Zion Lutheran Church and School, of which he is a member, and as special projects coordinator at The Sharing Place of Greater Indianapolis. He will attend DePauw University and major in biology.

Benton will be recognized at the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run at New Palestine High School.

In the seven years of the Dani’s Dreams scholarship program, more than $3,500 has been awarded to deserving young people in area high schools. They are all changing the world in positive ways through their academic and creative efforts. You can help them by donating or registering for the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run on this website.

Following is Benton’s essay which everyone should read:


By Benton E.N. Turner

It is the blank, foreboding stare. I do not think there is fear, sadness or pain. Rather, there is nothing, and that is the worst part. One can quickly learn to cope with the forgetfulness, misplaced objects, forgotten names, and confused faces. I think that is the easy part; at least I do now. So many people seem to think this disease is only the forgetfulness. However, it is a forgetfulness that invades all aspects of one’s life. It starts with names, events, faces, but it does not stop there. It is a relentless forgetfulness that leaves nothing. It erodes emotions, erases histories, infect simplicity. It steals loved ones. It stole my grandmother.

To some, choosing a career path at 18 may seem like a daunting task. However, I know what I need to do. Having watched Alzheimer’s steal my grandmother’s memories, independence, and livelihood, I feel called to pursue a career in medicine and research. I plan to major in the biological sciences at DePauw University, attending medical school, and eventually specializing in neurology. I am not so naive as to think one person can cure Alzheimer’s Disease. This war will take many soldiers, tirelessly working together to find a cure. I want to join this fight. I have witnessed how unforgiving Alzheimer’s Disease is, and as a physician, I would be able to provide a unique perspective, understanding what patients and their families go through. That is, the perpetual loss, piece by piece, of a family member.

Why do I wish to pursue a career in the sciences? Simply put, it is the nothing that drives me. There is nothing that can be done for Alzheimer’s patients. There is no pill to temporarily alleviate symptoms, no treatment regimen, and no path to remission; there is nothing. It is the nothing that ceaselessly invades my grandmother’s life, forcing her to forget the life she lived, the family she loved, and the memories she had accumulated. But most importantly, it is the nothing I see in her tired eyes; the lack of energy, personality, and liveliness that once dominated her life.

They are gone.

A grand day for an Earth Day Challenge!

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We’re all looking to “change the world”…the funny thing is we don’t realize that every day our actions, big and small make a difference in our families’ lives, our schools, our jobs and our communities.

Kids are often told they are too young, that they must wait to “change the world.” But at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center kids are changing the world every day – by learning, by growing and by caring about God’s great creation.

At Dani’s Dreams Earth Day Challenge April 17, children teamed up with their grandparents to make crafts, take a “How well do you know me?” quiz, plant bulbs and had old-fashioned fun with bubbles, made paper airplanes and shared a Frosty Boy ice cream treat. Every child who attended the challenge received a prize – a “Change the World” wristband!

In celebration of Earth Day, families also learned how their home can be a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and about the importance of sustainability in protecting the planet.

Those attending cast their votes for the winning T-Shirt Design for the Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run Aug. 1 at New Palestine High School.

Events like Dani’s Dreams Earth Day Challenge are only possible through the generous donations of Southern Hancock families, businesses and community members who support innovative education activities for our children.

Sign up now to register for the eighth annual Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run, donate or become a business sponsor by clicking here!

Change the World at Dani’s Dreams!

1useDSC_0496Set up a recycling bin at your house…turn off lights that you are not using…find out about your world and share that with others – each action will Change the World!

Enter the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center’s annual T-shirt design and essay contest.
The theme for this year’s event is “Change The World” and all Hancock County classrooms, Scout and youth groups are invited to environmental educational activities and crafts at Dani’s Dreams Earth Day Dedication Event April 17, 3:30-5 p.m. located at Zion Lutheran School in New Palestine.

There are now TWO WAYS for you to show your talents.

1. DRAW A PICTURE using the theme for the front of T-shirts. Your drawing could bring Dani’s Dreams to life on T-shirts for the eighth annual memorial walk/run Aug. 1. If your picture is chosen, you will receive a free T-shirt and $50 and your name will be on every shirt. You will be introduced Aug. 1 at the beginning of the walk/run at New Palestine High School.

2. WRITE AN ESSAY based on the theme “Change the World!” Entries from all ages will be accepted. The winner will receive a free T-shirt and $25. Money raised at this event will go to fund the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center, open to all students in Hancock County.
Turn in your drawing or essay to your teacher by April 10 or bring it to Dani’s Dreams April 17, 3:30-5.
Entries will be picked up at each school April 10 or they can be dropped off at Zion Lutheran School. The best of the T-shirt designs and essays will be on display for voting during the Earth Day Dedication Event at Dani’s Dream Outdoor Education Center April 17 3:30-5 p.m. Keep up with all the Dani’s Dreams news at http://www.danisdreamsoutdooredcenter.com. Email dgriffins96@gmail.com for more information.Here’s the entry form for the T-shirt design and essay contest:

Ready for Takeoff?

childrensmuseumflyer2015Flight Adventures

Fly away with us on a flight adventure! Discover the physics of flight, create your own model aircraft, test flight dynamics, and explore air using a wind tunnel.

These are a few of the activities for families at Children’s Museum Night at Zion Lutheran School, sponsored by Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center.

Join us Feb. 11, 6-8 p.m. – concessions will be available by the Zion PTL.

Cold Never Bothers Them Anyway…

RANA SYLVATICAFrom National Geographic:
It’s the ultimate deep freeze: Wood frogs in Alaska have set a record for cold endurance, staying as frozen as your microwave dinner for nearly seven months, a new study says.

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks discovered that the amphibians survived all those months being chilled to an average temperature of 6°F (-14.6°C), including temperatures as low as 0°F (-18°C).
Find out more HERE!