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Check Out These November Carnival Entries!

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Welcome to the December 2, 2012 Edition of

The Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

 

Potpourri…

Liz E presents “Worm Farming Adventures,” posted at Homeschooling in Buffalo, a beautiful photo gallery of her family’s worm bin project. This is a great “Potpourri” addition to the carnival! If you’ve never had a worm bin in your homeschool or classroom, try one this winter — it’s a great way to bring nature inside when it’s too cold to play outside.

Autumn Nature Finds…

From our house, we present “Ten (10) Fall Nature Studies: What the Leaves Have Kept Hidden”, posted at A Child’s Garden. We also submitted this to the “Top 10 Tuesday” Blog Carnival – a list of all the interesting things we have found on our travels this month.

Fall Nature Study - Evidence

Fallen leaves reveal a world of autumn treasures to study. (c) Kim M. Bennett.

   Thanks for your submissions! Remember, each submission earns the entrant a free e-Book of science journaling pages.

The Winter Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival Begins!

December is a short month for many of us, because of parent conferences, winter holidays, and family vacations. For this reason, the next Blog Carnival will be a December/January edition, or a Winter Edition. Here are the details for the upcoming edition:

Topics for the edition

  • Patterns in Nature
  • Snow
  • Vines
  • The Winter Sky

 

Scientific and Engineering Practices

  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

 

 

Cross-Cutting Concept

  • Patterns

 

 

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • Engineering, Technology and Applications of Science: Engineering Design

 

 

Strategies:

  • The Experience (Documentation) Panel
  • Illustrating Analogies: The Bridge Map

 

 

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Simple Science Strategies using the logo link below (by January 31, for February 2 posting), or our sidebar carnival submission form. Be on the lookout for the print copy of the December/January Simple Science Strategies Newsletter, and the next e-Book edition, on evergreens. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

**** UPDATE!****

Here is the link for the post with the downloadable newsletter:

The Winter 2012/2013 Simple Science Strategy Newsletter


Blog Carnival submission form - simple science strategies

 


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  Just because the leaves have fallen, and the greens of summer and golds, reds and bronzes of October have given way to the drab browns and grays of impending winter, doesn’t mean there are not delightful things to see … Continue reading

The Art of “Blending” – Winter Camouflage (November Study 1)

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What is Camouflage?

cam·ou·flage

  1. concealment of things: concealment of things, by disguising them to look like their surroundings
  2. concealing devices: devices designed to conceal by imitating the colors of the surrounding environment
  3. protective coloration in animals: the devices that animals use to blend into their environment in order to avoid being seen by predators or prey, especially coloration

Fall provides many opportunities to observe how living things prepare themselves for winter. One topic we will explore this month is how animals’ coloration can aid in their protection during the fall and winter months.

This article will focus specifically on how animals’ coloration protects them in the fall and winter months. The larger topic of coloration will be reserved for another month.

Types of Camouflage

Animals exhibit several types of coloration, each of which protects them from harm in a different way.

  1. Concealing Coloration
  2. Disguise
  3. Disruptive Coloration
  4. Mimicry
  5. No Camouflage

Each of these methods will be examined more closely as it applies to fall and winter protection.

Concealing Coloration

When folks think of camouflage, this is the type of camouflage that probably comes to mind first, and is probably one of the most common, especially among prey species of birds, insects and other prey animals.

When an animal exhibits concealing coloration, it is colored or patterned in such a way that it blends into its surroundings, looking very similar to its environment.

Many animals adopt a different coloration in the winter. Some adopt the drab browns and grays of the fall and winter woodlands, such as many sparrows, winter goldfinches, and winter starlings.

Here’s a fun birding note – there are so many small birds that move fast, hide undercover, and are hard to tell apart unless you get a good look at them through binoculars: warblers, sparrows, finches, buntings… birders refer to these as “little brown jobs” or “LBJs.”

 

Camouflage Concealing Color Fall Nature Study

Many sparrows and other small birds use concealing color year-round, or just in the winter, to hide among the brown leaves of the forest floor. See “Little Brown Birds: Sparrows and Friends” for a study of brown birds. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2010.

 

Disguise

Overwintering insects are at great risk of being someone’s wintertime food. In many cases, they disguise themselves as dead leaves or twigs, to avoid being noticed. This is the case with many of the giant silk moths, whose caterpillars overwinter in cocoons wrapped in dead leaves and twigs, effectively blending them into the leaf litter. This is even more important, when you consider that some, such as the Luna moth, must overwinter, then remain in the pupa until nearly the end of July, before the adult moth emerges – a long time to remain hidden from view, and from potential predators.

 

Camouflage Fall Nature Study

Many caterpillars cover their cocoons with dead leaves, to look like leaf litter, as they overwinter. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012.

 

Disruptive Coloration

In the fall and winter, some birds don’t change color drastically, but become a little more striped or spotted, and begin to congregate in large groups. The combination of the markings and the masses of birds make it hard for a potential predator to pick one bird out of the group, similar to the way that the stripes on zebras make it hard for a lion to pick one zebra out of the herd.

This type of camouflage is called disruptive coloration. By adopting a pattern of stripes or spots, the “edges” of the animal become less distinct, making it hard for a predator to zero in on one animal, or on an animal’s vulnerable spot (head, neck). Gathering in a large group makes this even more effective.

European starlings don’t change color dramatically, but, in the winter, become much more spotted. Similarly, juncos have a strikingly white belly that blends in with the snow, making them look like a cluster of black dots hopping over the snow.

 

Disruptive Coloration Nature Study Fall

Juncos’ white underparts blend in with the snow, making their vulnerable underside indistinguishable from their environment. (c) Phoenix Wolf-Ray, 2008 via Creative Commons.

 

Mimicry

Sometimes, animals have markings that resemble other, less “edible” or more dangerous creatures. The Viceroy and monarch butterflies are a classic example of this, as are caterpillars that have markings and “horns” to resemble more menacing creatures. While not a true mimicry, there is a subtle version of this “look-alike” phenomenon seen in winter birds.

If you have been watching your feeding station (that you assembled last month), you may have noticed a few days when you had huge flocks of black birds that descended on the feeders, stayed for an hour or so, then left as quickly as they arrived. This happens in my feeding area sometime in September or October. I usually see a huge flock of grackles, but, amongst the grackles, there will be a few starlings, some red-winged blackbirds, and maybe a crow or two.

While this isn’t true mimicry, the species that are in fewer numbers gain protection from looking like, and joining, the flock of grackles (a species that commonly gathers in large numbers in the fall). This association doesn’t affect the grackles, but benefits the other bird species. Would-be predators are less likely to attack the raucous grackles than they are the more timid starlings and blackbirds. So there is protection by association.

 

camouflage fall nature study

Birds such as red-winged blackbirds and starlings, will sometimes join large flocks of similarly colored birds, such as these grackles, for safety in numbers. (c) Rich Anderson, 2005 via Creative Commons.

 

No Camouflage

Not every animal uses camouflage as a protective measure, in winter or any other time of the year. Just one look at your bird list from your bird feeding station, and you can see a number of common species that remain brightly colored, year round:

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Evening Grosbeak

There are also some common feeder birds that are brightly colored, but migrate to warmer, or even tropical, regions during the winter, so they continue to blend in with “summery” surroundings:

  • Scarlet Tanagers
  • Northern Orioles
  • Many warblers
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak

For these birds, the advantage of bright colors to attract a mate outweighs the risk of being easy to spot, or the bird has other means to protect itself from predators.

 

Blue Jay No Camouflage

Blue jays keep their bright blue coloration year-round. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2010.

 

The Learning Task

The Key skills and concepts

  • Dimension 1: Science ProcessEngaging in Argument from Evidence
  • Dimension 2: Cross-Cutting ConceptCause-and-Effect: Mechanism and Explanation
  • Dimension 3: Scientific DisciplinesLife Sciences: Biological Evolution – Unity and Diversity
  • Cognitive Process: Comparing & Contrasting

If you are not a member of Project Feeder Watch, consider donating your time (and a few dollars) to become a citizen scientist, and contribute your observations to a scientific project. For your subscription, you’ll get a poster of common feeder birds in North America, data sheets and/or access to electronic recording forms online, and a subscription to a monthly newsletter that is chock full of great information for homeschool, birding enthusiasts or classroom use.

If you’re not a member, you can use this procedure to study the fall and winter coloration of your feeder birds:

  1. Find a place to observe birds for about 15-30 minutes. [Your bird feeding station is a good place]. It is good to pick the same time each week, so that you get a true representation of the kinds of birds that come to your feeder.
  2. Print out copies of the camouflage recording sheet (enough for pairs or small groups of students).
  3. Note the date and weather conditions or any other important factors that might affect bird numbers (e.g., disturbances in the environment; a new feeder or food; the presence of a dog or cat in the area).
  4. Record the species of birds that come to your feeder during this time in the first column.
  5. Record the maximum number of that bird that you see at any one time (use a pencil so you can erase).
  6. Check off what kind(s) of camouflage you think the species uses in the next columns (NOTE: Only the most common winter camouflage types are listed).
  7. Record any other interesting observations in the last column.
  8. Summarize your observations about birds and coloration on the lines at the bottom of the page.

NOTE: There are no right answers to this task. The point is to begin to examine the coloration of birds, compare them, and draw some inferences about the relationship between the birds’ coloration and adaptation to changing seasons.

 

Share

Post your observations, photos and links to your blog post to the November edition of the Simple Science Blog Carnival! Make sure you include a link back to this post or the blog carnival in your blog post.

 

Backyard Birds of North America: An Introduction to Familiar Species — Perfect for bird lovers, this informative pamphlet details more than 140 urban avian species and provides instructions on attracting and feeding backyard birds. Laminated for durability, this handy guide is ideal for field use by novices and experts alike. $2.71, Barnes & Noble.

 

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From Apple Flower to Apple Fruit

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On Stability and Change: The Apple

This month, we are studying the concepts of stability and change. The first of our nature-based studies involves a favorite autumn topic in New England: apples.

science strategies apple tree flower botany

The apple: a great opportunity for year-round botany study. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012.

Apples present an excellent opportunity to study stability and change, in both spring and fall, where we can study the transformation of the bare tree to one with leaves, the emergence of leaves and flowers from buds, the growth of apple fruits from the spent blossoms, the gradual ripening of the fruit, and the ultimate dropping of fruits and leaves as the fall winds down to winter.

This is also a nice opportunity to begin to talk about the structures of flowers and fruits, using the familiar, and accessible, apple, even during the winter months. Use the Apple a Day” notebooking pages, for these, and other, activities.

science strategies apple tree flower botany

An Apple a Day” – September Botany Journaling, 2012
20 pages, $1.95

 

A Year of Studies, by Season

An apple tree, all year round

Using the “Adopt-a-Plant” strategy, choose an apple tree (or, if you do not live near one, a crabapple tree will do), and observe it very early in the spring, before the leaves emerge (March or so, here in New England). Sketch the tree, or one branch on the tree in one frame, and provide a narrative to accompany each drawing. Add additional pages, as necessary. Here are some questions you might use as prompts for sketching and writing:

Winter (March)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. This frame and lines journaling page is useful for multiple sketches over time, or multiple views.

  1. Sketch a bud on a twig. How are the buds protected in the winter? Carefully dissect a bud. What do you see inside?
  2. As the bud opens, what parts of the bud remain? What happens to the other parts? Why do you think this happens?
  3. Notice the markings and scars near the buds. What do you think cause them? Explain.
  4. Count the number of nodes from the tip of a branch to the trunk. How old is the branch? Explain how you figured this out.

Spring (May)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. Botanical drawings and content vocabulary for journaling, word study, vocabulary building, or penmanship.

  1. Sketch an opening bud. What parts do you see first, the flowers or the leaves? Do they come out at the same time? Do all buds produce leaves and flowers? Describe what you see.
  2. Draw an opening apple blossom. Label these parts: stem, stipules, calyx, sepals.
  3. Sketch an open apple blossom. How many petals do you see? Draw the calyx behind the petals. What shape is the apple blossom? Color your drawing. Are the petals the same color on the inside as the outside? Why do buds and the blossoms appear different colors?
  4. Draw an open apple blossom. Label these parts: petals, stamens, filament, anther, pistil, stigma.
  5. Have an adult help you cut open the base of the apple blossom. What do you see inside? What do you think these become? Use what you know about apples to help you answer.
  6. Carefully sketch the arrangement of the new leaves as they grow around the blossom. What color are they? Do they stay this color?

Summer (June)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. Diagrams with labels, or boxes for labeling. Pages with and without word banks as a scaffold for labeling.

  1. Sketch a twig or blossom after the petals fall. What parts remain? What parts are missing? Why do you think some parts fall off? What part do you think becomes the apple fruit that you eat? What becomes the seeds?
  2. Use a piece of colorful tape to mark one twig with developing apples. Return to sketch one developing apple, once a week. Identify any parts of the original blossom that remain.
  3. How many apples grow from one winter bud? How many leaves? Draw a branch and show the arrangement of apples and leaves.
  4. Does the apple branch keep on growing? What part grows after the fruit forms?

Fall (September)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. Woodcuts from botanical texts: useful for rendering accurate colors when observing.

  1. Sketch three apples of different varieties, making sure to render the shape accurately. Describe the differences and similarities in these areas: shape, stem, color.
  2. Observe a ripe apple on a tree. Notice the color. Is it the same color everywhere? Develop a hypothesis about the role of air temperature and sunlight in the development of apple fruit color.
  3. Carefully draw and color one apple. Is it the same color everywhere? Are they spots or streaks? Is it the same color on both sides?
  4. Draw a ripe apple (outside and inside views). Identify the flower parts that created the structures you see.
  5. Use words to describe the texture of the apple skin. What function does the skin serve? (See Experiment 1)
  6. Cut up apples of five varieties. Create a data table to compare and rate them from 1-5 based on these factors: color (1=greenest skin, 5=reddest skin), texture (1=coarsest pulp, 5=finest pulp); crispness (1=crispiest, 5=softest), juiciness (1=juiciest, 5=driest), taste (1=most sour, 5=sweetest), aroma (1=no aroma, 5=strongest aroma).
  7. Cut apples of several varieties from stem to flower end. Draw and compare the core area.

Winter (December)

science strategies apple flower botany

Sample page. A variety of lined pages, in both regular rule and primary rule, for copywork, handwriting practice, observations or thematic writing.

  1. Gather an apple, a pear, a peach, a plum and a cherry. Carefully cut each in half, starting at the stem end. Sketch what you see. What is the same about all these fruits? What is different?
  2. Cut an apple from end to end, along the core. Sketch what you see. Note the core line. Can you connect the stem to the flower end through the core? Why?
  3. Cut another apple across the core. Sketch what you see in this view. Identify the flower parts that formed what you see. Draw the seed cells. Can you see faint dots between the cells? What do you think these are? How many seeds do you find in each cell (carpel)?
  4. List all the apple varieties you know. Use other resources to find more names. Sort them by use, color, country of origin.

Want a Report Cover or Fun Word Wall?

science strategies apple flower botany

Download it here

Two Experiments

These experiments are adapted from The Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Botsford Comstock), where you can get many other ideas for prompts for botany journaling or classroom discussion, as well as great background information for you, the teacher.

science strategies apple flower botany

Handbook of Nature Study, $23.67, Barnes & Noble (click on image for ordering information).

Experiment 1. The role of the apple peel

Take three apples of similar size, shape, and soundness. Peel one. Place the peeled apple on a desk or shelf. Place one of the unpeeled apples so that it is touching the peeled apple. Place the remaining unpeeled apple on the other side of the peeled apple, but at a distance, so it does not touch.

Which one would you predict would rot first? Which one would you predict would rot next? Where would the rot start? Why do you think this?

Develop a hypothesis to explain your thinking. Explain what you think the role  the skin serves in the life cycle of the apple tree.

Observe the apples for rot over the next several days. Evaluate your hypothesis.

science strategies apple flower botany

(c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012

Experiment 2: More on the role of the apple peel

Take the rotten apple from the first experiment. Use a safety pin or a needle to prick the flesh of the rotten fruit, then use the juice-covered pin to prick a healthy fruit. Go back and forth, pricking the rotten fruit once, then pricking the good fruit, making your initials in the good fruit. Put the inoculated apple on a desk or table. Throw away the rotten fruit or compost it.

Develop a hypothesis about where rot will begin on the inoculated fruit.

Observe the inoculated fruit over the next several days. Note where rot begins. Explain why you think this is so. Also relate your findings to how apples should be handled at the orchard, in shipping, and in the grocery store, to ensure long shelf life.

science strategies apple flower botany

See “Favorite Photo Friday” for more about this photo! (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012

Share Your Work!

Make sure that you share your October apple work on the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival. Entries are due on October 26, for posting by November 1.

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This month, Simple Science Strategies will focus on the concept of Stability and Change.  We will use four topics to explore this concept: Bird Migration Fall Color Flowers, Fruit and Seeds Changing Seasons Keep your eyes peeled for new articles … Continue reading

The September 2012 Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival is Here!

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Observation — the focus for September 2012

Welcome to the September 30, 2012 edition of Simple Science Strategies!


Blog Carnival archive - simple science strategies

Mushrooms and Lichens

Hot off the press! We demonstrate how some fungi disperse their spores in Puffballs! posted at A Child’s Garden. We didn’t intend to study puffballs, but here they showed up, overnight, at the edge of our driveway. So (of course) we had to stop our course and spend time with them!

We also included Make Room for Mushrooms posted at A Child’s Garden. This was originally posted in 2011, but submitted to this year’s blog carnival, because we learned so much, that we wanted to share it again.

 

Ant Colonies

Our ant studies are repeats from last fall, because we liked the way we conducted (and reported) our nature study, and didn’t want to tweak it! September Study 3: Ants,Termites and Ant Lions posted at A Child’s Garden includes lots of links and suggestions for carrying out ant studies (perfect for fall).

Because the “One Small Square” strategy was covered in this month’s Simple Science Strategies newsletter and posts, we shared a past study of Citronella ants using the strategy. In Citronella Ants Go Marching, posted at A Child’s Garden. We used the “One Small Square” strategy as we explored under the rock and brick edging of our flower bed, and discovered a species of ant that we hadn’t known about before. Fun!

 

Bird Feeding

As part of our Exploring Creation Through Zoology studies, we have conducted many experiments and investigations right in our own backyard. In What Color Attracts More Birds? – A Lesson on Fractions, posted at A Child’s Garden. We connected science and grade-level work on fractions as one learning task to accompany our study of birds and their feeding preferences.

 

Wildflowers and Seeds

In our favorite fall study, we present September Wildflowers in Connecticut – Our Sock Walk. posted at A Child’s Garden. We wanted to share the wildflowers we saw on our sock walk, plus the (not-so-great) results of our follow-up investigation (where we planted our socks), so we put the photos together in a mini-field guide.

As a result of our hike, we learned a lot about how plants disperse their seeds. In our Squidoo lens, Seeds Get Around, posted at A Child’s Garden, we share a botany study that was a spin-off from our wildflower and seed work, and show what we learned about seed dispersal mechanisms.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Simple Science Strategies using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


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The September Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival Awaits You!

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Please share how you used the learning ideas in this month’s Simple Science Newsletter! Simply click on the “submit an article” link in the widget, below, and enter in the information about your blog post or web article.

Better yet, install the widget as a sidebar on your blog, so you will never forget to submit your ideas. And don’t limit yourself to the topics of the monthly newsletter — as long as you are sharing classroom or homeschool ideas that others can use, there is a “potpourri” section, made just for this purpose!

Don’t worry about missing a deadline — While I must have a deadline for publishing purposes, if you do a September task in December, post it! We don’t want to miss any of that good teaching you all do.

This month’s carnival ends at 5:00 pm on September 28, and will be posted to this blog on Monday, October 1, 2012. Stay tuned for the October carnival, which will begin on September 30, 2012!

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