Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (September 6, 2022) – Crossroads is pleased to announce that the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society will hold its September meeting on Tuesday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the lecture hall of the Collins Learning Center so members can share their excitement about “Space Telescopes—the Hubble and the James Webb” with the community.
Members of DPAS are over the moon about the images from the light collected by the elegant hexagon-shaped, gold-plated beryllium mirror segments of the James Webb telescope.
Curiously, members of the Door County Beekeepers who recently held their Community Honey Harvest at Crossroads waxed eloquently about the hexagons in their honeybee hives. And during a nature program last week, families combing Big Creek for fossils were fascinated by the hexagons of ancient colony corals.
Hexagons – polygons with six sides – seem to be disproportionately common in nature: honeycombs, insect eyes, raspberries, turtle shells, snowflakes, pineapples, basalt columns, Saturn’s North Pole, and, here on the Door Peninsula, fossils of Silurian sea creatures.
So this week, we resume our “Science Saturday” series with a family program about hexagons. Saturday Science will be offered most weekends unless Crossroads has a special event scheduled, and be aware, we have a number of events coming up. Science Saturday lessons are age-appropriate for students grades three through six, but we welcome learners of all ages and love multi-generational groups.
Saturday at 2:00 p.m., using short videos and hands-on activities, some of which may be edible, (let us know if a participant has dietary restrictions), learners will explore the geometric concept of tessellations. Tessellations are created when same-sized shapes fit together without gaps or overlaps. Hexagons can tesselate and that makes them special.
Hexagons best fill an area with equal-sized units and no wasted space. And because of its six, 120-degree angles, a hexagon minimizes the perimeter of an area. So, for example, in a beehive, the six-sided walls of each cell require less wax than, say, square or triangular cells would use.
The same holds true for Wisconsin’s ancient marine corals. Alive millions of years ago when Door County was under a warm, shallow salt-water sea, each of the soft-bodied coral polyps secreted its six-sided calcium carbonate skeleton. The skeleton was shared with six neighbors and colonies of conjoined exoskeletons formed massive reefs.
We can learn from honeycomb coral, dragonfly eyes and pineapples. NASA did. In designing the amazing James Webb Telescope, engineers realized they could gain more surface area by combining hexagon-shaped mirror segments which are almost circular and consequently able to focus light. But the 18 golden hexagons tessellate giving the telescope more surface area for gathering the faint light of galaxies far, far away.
On Sunday, September 11, Crossroads and Wild Ones of the Door Peninsula are offering a free Monarch Tagging program at 1:30 p.m. Wild Ones board member, Karen Newbern (who also is a Wisconsin Master Naturalist Instructor and a Master Gardener volunteer) will offer a program about the life cycle and migration behavior of these stunning orange and black butterflies (which have compound eyes made up of tessellating hexagons). Then, participants will go out to try to capture, tag and release these beautiful migrating Monarchs.
One does not have to have hexagons-shaped photoreceptors like Monarchs to enjoy colorful fields and meadows of Crossroads preserves. Our trails are open day, all day every day free of charge. This is a fabulous time of year to get in touch with nature.
Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committed to offering education, conducting research and restoration, and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages and from all backgrounds. We welcome your support! Become a member of Crossroads by mailing a contribution to P.O. Box 608, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, or donate online at crossroadsatbigcreek.org