March 16

Nature’s Lace

As I was working in my garden, I discovered some delicate lacy leaf skeletons. The intricate system of veins is visible. Plant veins provide structure and support to plant leaves while also transporting water, nutrients, and energy to the rest of the plant.

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March 15

Busy Squirrels

Young scientists often study squirrels in the fall when these rodents are preparing for winter but watching their antics in late winter has been amusing. Common gray squirrels are scatter hoarders and will hide a nut anywhere they can. So, how do they find their hidden stash of nuts? Is it just luck or do they have a plan?

Click here for the Safeshare link.

When I was studying squirrels, I discovered another way that red squirrels prepare for winter. Click here for the Safeshare link.

This reminded me of the story, The Busy Little Squirrel. Children will enjoy the predictable text and it’s a simple story to dramatize.  Click here to look inside. It is similar to the story The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.

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March 14

Gravitropism and Phototropism

This is the time of year when we think about spring planting. Use the video below as an introduction to growing seeds.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

A simple story about what happens when you plant bean seeds,

Paperback One Bean Book

I dissected lima bean seeds with my second-grade students. Click here for that post.

Cool Beans is a fun fiction story to read while you are studying seeds. Click here for the Safeshare link.

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Why do roots grow down and shoots up? Geotropism or gravitropism is the influence of gravity on plant growth or movement and phototropism is how a plant responds to light. Click here to go to a recent post where I introduced phototropism.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Try these investigations:

I placed bean seeds in four different orientations inside an empty DVD case on a wet paper towel. Will the roots demonstrate geotropism and the sprouts phototropism?  Will placing the bean seeds in different directions change how the seeds sprout?

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

I opened the case, laid it flat on the counter, and when I returned later in the day, the plant had turned up. Phototropism!

I placed the bean plant from a previous experiment on its side. Look how the stems demonstrated phototropism and turned upward.

If plants use gravity and light to grow, what happens when astronauts grow plants on the space station? Will roots grow in random directions because there is no gravity?  Click here to go to the NASA website to learn about growing plants in space. Vivify Stem has several experiments to learn about growing plants in space. Click here

The goal of learning should not be the memorization of facts, but the understanding and application of knowledge.

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March 10

Wake-up!

I’m seeing robins around Atlanta – surely a sign of spring!

They remind me of an old Doris Day song that I learned from my mom. I sang it to my sleepy daughter when I needed her to rise and shine! Maybe the robins are singing to the sleepy animals.

When the red, red robin comes bob bob bobbin’ along, along,
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song,

“Wake up, wake up, you sleepy head,
Get up, get up, get out of bed.
Cheer up, cheer up, the sun is red,
Live, love, laugh and be happy!”

Click here to learn more about the American robin.

Click here to listen to My Spring Robin. The story is read aloud first and then scientists can read it themselves.

Image result for my spring robin

March 10

Who Lives Underground?

When I pass by a hole in the ground, I can’t help but wonder who might be living right under my feet! Animals live in the trees, on the ground, and under it as well. Everyone has its own space-a perfect plan! Which animals have subterranean habitats? Chipmunks, moles, voles, rabbits, foxes, groundhogs, badgers, armadillos, and skunks live in burrows. Some crustaceans, insects (ants and yellow jackets), spiders, frogs, worms, turtles, and snakes also burrow underground. While many animals dig their own burrows, others will move into another animal’s burrow when it is abandoned. Underground tunnels provide a safe place to store food and raise young, a means to escape from predators, and protection from hot or cold temperatures.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

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I just ordered this book about burrowing animals.

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Tape boxes together to make underground tunnels for a fun extension to your study of burrowing animals. I saw this at allfortheboys.com

To tie in STEM, build mazes with blocks, Legos, or paper towel tubes. Design an underground home for yourself. A German architectural firm, ZA Architects, is designing plans for subterranean living on Mars. This is also the perfect time to provide digging activities for your young scientists. Click here to inspire them.

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March 9

Snags

In a forest ecosystem, a snag is a standing, dead or dying tree, often missing a top or most of the smaller branches. Click here for more information about snags. According to the Maryland Grows Blog, snags provide a habitat for about 25 percent of the forest wildlife. As I researched snags, I was struck with the thought that even in death, the tree provides life. Nothing is wasted in nature, and everything has a purpose. Click here for the entire article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although The Giving Tree has been interpreted in multiple ways, it reminds me of the sacrificial ways trees provide for the animal kingdom. Click here to watch an animated version of the story.

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As I listened to this story, I thought of The Tale of Three Trees. So many lessons about pride, purpose, and joy. Click here and here for Safeshare link videos. The second video is animated.

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Trees are essential for life. They provide lumber, oxygen, food (fruit and nuts), paper, shade, and soil protection. So yes, hug a tree today! Click here to discover more benefits of trees.

Look at how these roots are preventing erosion on the side of the riverbank.

March 7

Leaning Trees – Natural Phenomena

Occasionally on my walks, I see a tree that is leaning. The trees surrounding them are usually growing straight. Why do some trees lean? What do you think?

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.
Neil Armstrong

According to Sarah Moore on her blog, SF Gate, trees may lean to reach toward light if they are shaded by surrounding trees, because of sustained, low winds or sudden, strong gusts of winds, as well as changes in the soil, or disease.

I was interested in studying phototropism (an organism’s response to light) further. Click here for the Safeshare link.

To test out the hypothesis that a plant will lean toward light, try this simple investigation:
Plant bean seeds in a cup and place the cup out of direct sunlight. Will the sprout grow toward the light?


I laid this plant on its side and before the day was over, the top of the plant had turned up.

I discovered this example of phototropism. Although the tree fell, the branches have turned upward as they continued to grow.

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March 6

Wildflowers

In the month of March, the woodlands where I walk are mostly shades and tints of brown.

But wildflowers have suddenly appeared in the underbrush. A wildflower is a flower that grows naturally without any assistance. Finding one as I meandered was a delightful surprise! I’m sure there will be more as the temperatures continue to rise. Click here for a wildflower guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I noticed two gentlemen preparing a garden bed at the entrance to the Greenway and I paused to inquire about what they were planting. I was so excited when they told me they were planting wildflowers. Yes, planting wildflowers is an oxymoron!

Click here for the Safeshare link.

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