MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Nutty and sweet.

Several special programs for families will be held during the Presidents’ Day Holiday Weekend -- February 17 - 19 at the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside.

On February 19, a professional teacher from the Mad Science of New Jersey team will be on hand to show children ages 8 - 12  how much fun science can be. Through hands-on demonstrations, unique equipment and animated instructors, children will enjoy investigating chemical reactions in 'Chem in a Flash' offered at 1 and 2 p.m. 'Chem in a Flash' permits young scientists to perform instantaneous experiments and witness split second reactions.

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Also that day, children can also explore the farthest reaches of the solar system, create a lunar eclipse and build and take home Kepler’s Cube, a fun and educational 3-D Solar System puzzle during Planets and Moons also offered at 1 and 2 p.m.

Longer days and patterns of freezing and thawing signal the beginning of another maple sugaring season. Each year, for a period of only four to six weeks, the sap of the sugar maple tree is collected and turned into syrup. This year, Trailside celebrates 'The Journey of Sap to Syrup' February 17 and February 19 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participants will learn how 100% real maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree. Find out what equipment is needed to collect sap and take a walk to see a tapped sugar maple tree. Take part in a taste test to see if you can identify the real thing. 

'Outrageous Owls', offered on February 17 from 1 - 2 p.m., investigates the habits and habitat of these secretive, nocturnal animals. Attendees will listen to calls of the screech, great horned and barred owls as well as earn about the special adaptations these birds have that make them successful hunters.

Families are invited to work together and challenge their natural history skills on a winter walk in search of animal tracks, nibbled twigs and other signs that indicate animal neighbors have visited.  Time spent around a warm campfire will conclude the outdoor investigation with hot chocolate and marshmallows served. 'Animal Clue Winter Walk and Campfire' is offered 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. on February 17. 

Trailside is offering a special arts and crafts workshop 'Winter Art Extravaganza' for all ages on February 19 any time between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Parents and their children are invited to drop in and use their artistic abilities to celebrate the season. Winter and snow will be the inspiration for this afternoon’s craft session. 

Pre-registration is required for programs as space is limited.  Walk-ins will be accommodated as space permits.  The fee for 'Chem in a Flash' and 'Planets and Moons' is $10 per child for residents of Union County and $12 per child for out-of-County residents. The fee for 'The Journey of Sap to Syrup', 'Animal Clue Winter Walk & Campfire' and 'Outrageous Owls' is $5 per person for residents of Union County and $6 per person for out-of-County residents. The fee for the 'Winter Art & Crafts Extravaganza' is $5 per child for residents of Union County and $6 per child for out-of-County residents

For additional information about programs offered during February Festivities, winter workshops and special events, call 908-789-3670 or visit ucnj.org/trailside.

Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road.