August 15

Petioles

I am beginning to see some signs of fall. This little leaf fell onto my windshield.

Many students study trees during Autumn, so in preparation, I am going to begin posting a series about leaves. Let’s begin with petioles which is the stalk that attaches a leaf to the stem (branch) of a plant. A leaf without a petiole is called a sessile leaf.  Petioles can twist the leaf to face the sun. There is diversity in petioles, as you will find a variety of lengths and colors. Let’s look at some petioles I found on trees near my home.


Before you go on a nature walk and observe the petioles on trees, consider the following:  Are all petioles the same length on a tree? Do all species of maples or oaks have similar petioles? Do leaves on plants other than trees have petioles too? Is there any correlation between the size of a leaf and the length of the petiole?

Collect leaves and compare the petioles. Measure them.

Send students on a scavenger hunt. Find the longest and shortest petiole. Find a tree leaf with no petioles. Find a red and a green petiole.

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August 11

Butterfly or Moth?

Do you know how to distinguish between a butterfly and a moth? Although there are similarities, there are also striking differences.

Moths are nocturnal while butterflies are active during the day (diurnal). Moths usually have plain wings, and butterfly wings tend to be more colorful. When a moth is resting, its wings are at its sides, but a butterfly rests with its wings together and upright. There are differences in antennae too. A butterfly has clubbed antennae, but a moth has straight or feathery ones. Finally, a butterfly’s body is thin, but a moth’s body is often thicker. During metamorphosis, a butterfly caterpillar makes a chrysalis, but a moth caterpillar forms a cocoon during the pupal stage. Now when you find a lepidoptera on a walk with your child or students, determine whether it is a moth or butterfly.

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Click here to learn how to watch caterpillars move through metamorphosis. Click here for a previous cocoon post. I have made other posts about butterflies and moths. Go to the search bar on the right top corner of the home page to find them.

Observe butterflies in a garden or nursery. Turn on a light outside at night and watch for moths.

August 9

What is Science?

Many teachers and parents are back to school. Use some of the following books to begin your science class! Before you read the picture book below, ask your children to brainstorm answers to the question on the cover. Do you have a scientist in your family? These books will make thoughtful gifts.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

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Who is a scientist? What do they do? Can children be scientists?

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“Science is a tool to discover the wonders and glory of God!”

August 8

Anoles

If you live in the Southern part of the United States, you’ve seen anoles! When I was young, we called them chameleons, but that name is incorrect. Like chameleons, anoles can change color from brown to emerald green. They move quickly, so I was surprised this lizard stood still for pictures.

An anole is a lizard and lizards are reptiles. Other reptiles include snakes, turtles, and alligators. Reptiles are one category of vertebrates (animals with bones). Reptiles have dry scaly skin. Most reptiles lay soft-shelled eggs. They breathe with lungs and are cold-blooded. Click here to learn more about reptiles.

Listen to the video to find out the answers: What do anoles eat? What is a dewlap?

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Click here to see a lab anole molt.

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August 3

Praying Mantis

I spied a praying mantis as I walked through my garden.

A praying mantis is a carnivore. The mantis will grab its prey with those front legs. Gardeners are a fan!

Do you know what is unique about the head of a praying mantis?

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While in my lab, I purchased praying mantis egg cases each spring. Click here to see what happened! The life cycle of a mantis is incomplete metamorphosis – egg, nymph, and adult. Click here to learn more about the life cycle.

I went into my garden the next day and discovered the mantis was green. They are masters of camouflage! Click here for more information about these fascinating creatures!

Let’s connect music with science. Click here for full screen and click here for the safeshare link.

July 28

The Urban Farmer and Teach 4 the Heart Blogs

I like to share other blogs with my readers. One of the latest blog posts on The Urban Farm was an interview with Deanna Cook who shares ways to create farmers’ market fun with kids. Click here to go to the blog.

The Teach 4 the Heart blog provides support and encouragement for Christian educators in private and public schools. “Simply put, we want to offer you uplifting, practical advice from a biblical viewpoint. ”  Click here to go to the blog.

July 26

Cohesion and Adhesion

I took these photos at the Missouri Botanical Garden after a summer storm. Notice how the water appears on each item below. What do you wonder? Scroll under the photos to learn two properties of water.

I captured this photo one foggy morning last fall. Use small spray bottles to mist water onto webs to replicate what happened.

Cohesion and adhesion are properties of water. Cohesion occurs when water molecules are attracted to each other and clump (bond) together in drops. Adhesion occurs when water molecules are attracted to other materials.

Click here to use a penny to demonstrate these concepts.

Click here to use page protectors for a fun way to investigate these properties.

Click here to use foil and pipettes with your youngest scientists.

Click here to see my former students perform the experiment in the following video.
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This is always a fun demo! Click here for full screen.

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July 25

Millipedes and Centipedes

Centipedes are often found in basements and gardens. What do you observe? Are they insects?

I had millipedes (Milly and Jilly) in my science lab. How are arthropods, millipedes and centipedes, alike and how do they differ?

To learn the difference between the two, watch the video below. Click here for additional information.

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The Latin root word ped means foot, milli means thousand, and centi hundred. Do these creatures really have that many legs?

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