By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Just 20 miles from Philadelphia lie the New Jersey Pine Barrens – but what do you know about them? Well, Thursday September 27, at 5:30 pm, The Wagner Free Institute of Science at 1700 West Montgomery Avenue in Philadelphia, launches this year’s Weeknights at the Wagner lecture series, by taking you on a virtual tour of the 1.1 million acres of pine forests, rivers, hiking trails and bogs, (and the Cedar Swamp in the Wharton State Forest seen in the photo). The Pine Barrens are alive with everything from orchids and cranberries to carnivorous plants and the absolutely adorable Pine Barrens Tree Frog.

Learn how this special sandy spot keeps trillions of gallons of water constantly clean. As well as why the frequent fires of the Pine Barrens are not only natural, but necessary for things to grow.

The Wagner Free Institute itself is like stepping back in time. Admission’s free, but donations are welcome and a visit to the wondrous Wagner may well inspire you to reach into your pocket and drop a few pennies in the pot to help them keep up what they’ve been doing since 1855 – teaching us all about the world all around us.

Details and directions at