Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Trees often seem so stalwart and strong. But they do require some tending, too. Newly planted trees are especially important. Young trees are vulnerable to animal predation or nibbling from deer, rabbits, field mice and insects.
This is a young tree that is infected with a colony of tent catepillars. I got this picture just in time, because the neighbors that take care of the trees and plants on this street and the medium where this street grows were planning to kill these 'pests' in the coming days. These insects -though apart of the natural process and food web - will kill young trees.
So you might need to help out young trees at first, but it is worth it.
If you are planting trees on your property be sure it is the Right tree in the right place. Also make sure you check on the health of tree and take care of it. And if possible, definitely plant trees and shrubs that are native to your region. Planting native trees require less care because they are adapted to the environmental conditions – the heat, humidity, cold, amount of water, and insects. Non-native trees have to be watered and perhaps pruned to control their growth.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
To follow up on the National Arbor Day post, I want to share
8 Reasons why city trees are so great
1. Trees provide shade on a hot, sunny day.
3. Can lower our utility bills because they block the sun and wind, therefore we need to burn less energy to keep our homes comfortable.
4. The roots of trees stabilize the soil and dirt to help reduce erosion from wind and rain.
6. Some trees bear delicious fruit and nuts - for free.
7. Trees help bring up the property value of your home.
To learn more about why trees are so great, Check out this news article about trees.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I think it is important for young people, heck all people, to understand the whole world around them. For me, I am passionate about young people learning about the science in everything around them. Science is everywhere not just the fancy science lab class - that they won't let you in and use. Science is ubiquitous, but so many kids avoid it not realizing that everything they do, observe, and experience are examples of "Everyday Science".
Here's an experimental school that doing things a little different. German Kindergarteners Answering Call of the Wild. It's an outdoor school! Not a classroom, but the whole school. Kids are outside, in elements, all day - rain or shine. It's a wild and crazy idea but it's actually not that different from my summer experiences as a child. My mother worked for the city parks division. She was one of 2 adult workers at a neighborhood city park that would attract over a hundred kids a day. There were a few structured activities, but mostly the kids (including me) played games like tag and not it, jump rope, ball games like basketball (mostly the big boys), 4-square, wiffle ball, dodge ball, kickball. About once a week a roving city park worker came by for a fun structured activity - to learn a dance routine or walk on that giant planet ball or something.
But it was a blast. I credit my mother to getting me hooked to being outdoors - rain or shine - and getting dirty. I experienced nature in an urban setting every day. Some neat tricks she introduced me to included 4-leaf clover hunting and nature crafts. This was especially popular among the girls who tended to play fewer team sports than the boys. We'd collect wild flowers and tall grasses and make nature bouquets. My park included a little run-off tube (read artificial wetland) so cat tails and weeping willows were there.
Though I didn't learn any scientific names and I was horrible at remembering even common names of things, I began to develop a connection to this place, this park and its many microhabitats. I had a visual and aesthetic vocabulary, but being all of age 6, 7, 8, I didn't yet have the word vocabulary. But I knew under the big tree (probably an oak, now that I think back) everyone would hang out and eat lunch and cool off. There was no grass there, only silky light colored dirt and June bugs could be found. By the run-off tube, there were ALWAYS mosquitoes and dragonflies. The plants were taller and itchier there, too.
Out at the playing field it was a mix of grass, clover, dandelions, and 'regular grass'. On the plains of the park, it was mostly clover - white clover I would later come to know - and when it got tall and thick, I had to watch out for hiding garter snakes. But this field was always my favorite. (maybe that's why I LOVE prairies. to this day, prairie grasslands are my favorite biomes.) I'd hunt for 4 leaf clovers all day... and make clover flower garlands, jump ropes and hair wreaths. And there were ALWAYS small fuzzy bees there. Not the big bright yellow bumble bees -- smaller, but just as fuzzy. I was always worried about stepping or lying on one and getting stung. But it never happened.
Hmm, I didn't know it then, but I was young naturalist. And it is those memories that I think back on when I remind myself that urban ecology is a great and worthwhile area of study and foundation of life science for inner-city kids.
I hope everyone spends the rest of this gorgeous spring making memories while having your own Urban Science Adventures! (c)
Friday, April 25, 2008
I have included several photos of beautiful tree-lined streets. Trees are a great addition to a community. In fact, several communities have even earned the distinction of being Tree City, USA.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
photo credit - reader submitted photo to the St. Louis Suburban Journals.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I visited the Missouri State Nursery a couple of weeks ago to pick up some tree seedlings for a public program. We picked up 1000 Redbud tree saplings. Its common name is Eastern Redbud and the scientific name is Cercis canadensis. Since learning about these trees and how to identify them, I'm suddenly noticing them everywhere. They are in bloom now and they have a very pretty and distinctive flower.
Wordless Wednesday: Red Buds Blooming
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The month of April celebrates National Library Week (April 13-19)! To celebrate, I will post Book reviews of Children's Science Literature.
Here are three books, each a finalist in the 2007 Animal Behavior Society Children’s Book Award for best Animal Behavior book.
by Sandra Markle
Maybe it’s me, but I’m still learning so much about invertebrate sea animals. This trade book is the perfect primer for Octopus behavior for youth and adults alike. Octopuses have so many cleaver ways of escaping predators – color camouflage, can change color and pattern and texture to resemble habitat surfaces, and they can morph shape and color to resemble other sea animals. Plus the glossary section is complete and perfect. The Pictures are phenomenal!
Octopuses are predators. They use their eight arms to catch crabs and all kinds of shellfish to eat. But octopuses are prey too. To defend themselves, they distract enemies by squirting ink into the water, and then quickly make their escape. They can change color and shape to blend into their background or resemble another less-tasty animal. Some octopuses are poisonous and warn would-be predators by sporting bright colors. These special abilities help octopuses survive and thrive in the warm coral reefs and the cold depths of the ocean.
Where in the Wild: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed…and Revealed.
by David M. Schwartz, Yael Schy, Dwight Kuhn (Photographer)
This a great book for elementary students. The authors use poetry to cleverly describe how some animals hide in plain site. It’s amazing and so are the illustrations. It shows a picture of the camouflaged animal in its habitat. Then you open the flap it is reveals where the animal is in the shot. Great for inter-disciplinary lessons, too – Science and Language arts.
Naturally Wild Musicians: The Wondrous World of Animal Song
by Peter Christie
This book was great! Not like most other trade books. It provides perfectly described scenarios of animal communication through songs and singing. Many different species of animals, such as birds, katydids, frogs, toads, even fish use song to communicate with each other. They sing to attract mates, defend territories, duel with rivals, and hunt prey. It is a quick read and each section can be tackled on its own for shorter bursts of reading. And the illustrations are great.
Synopsis from B&N
Well-illustrated with photographs of animals in action, this book looks at how animals use music to communicate, to proliferate and to stay alive. The text is structured like a thesis, with each section stating and then supporting a fact about animal song. There are several funny anecdotes throughout the text, but no continual narrative line for those looking for an actual story about animal song. This text would be a good reference tool for lessons about animal behavior or music in nature.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Flying squirrels, Glaucomys sabrinus, are small rodents about half the size of the more familiar tree squirrel. Like the tree squirrel they live in trees, preferably older hardwood forest habitats of hickory and oak, because older trees provide the ideal habitat they require. They live in tree cavities and rotten snags and eat lichens and fungi on the forest floor.
They are called flying squirrels because they can leap from a tree branch, sail across the night sky, and land on another tree branch or the ground more than 100 feet away. The extra fold of skin that runs from their front legs to their back legs is called a gliding membrane. The squirrel uses the gliding membrane like a sail and its long tail like a boat rudder to maneuver across the night sky. So flying squirrels don’t actually fly, they glide.
The scientists wanted to learn how flying squirrels are able to glide such amazing distances in the air. The objective of the study was to learn more about how this animal moves both in the air and in the trees. Scientists examined the dynamics of gliding locomotion such as take off or launch, gliding, and landing components and looked at its walking behavior on tree branches. Launch speed, landing speed, and glide distance were measured for each squirrel in the study. Using frame-by-frame digital photography, the researchers were able to slow down the action and measure the angle of the jump and landing. They also measured launch and landing forces using specially designed launching and landing branches. To analyze flying squirrels walking behavior, they used wooden dowels that simulated tree branches of different diameters to see if squirrels responded differently when walking on larger or smaller branches. Using frame-by-frame digital video they were able to closely examine each squirrel’s walking behavior. The researchers measured speed, stride, how much weight each foot supported with each step, and the amount of time each foot is on the dowel when the animal is walking.
The team of researchers found that the aerial locomotion of flying squirrels is quite impressive. Squirrels can take off at speeds of nearly 10 yards per second, meaning they can glide very long distances. The farther a squirrel glides, the faster it glides. They actually take off at higher speeds if they are gliding longer distances. And they speed up faster as they approach landing in longer glides. Typically, squirrels land at a 45 degree angle, but the landing angle increases with distance. Moreover, the average observed landing force is about 2.9 times the subject’s body weight. This is true for both heavy squirrels, like pregnant females, and smaller squirrels like juveniles. A squirrel’s size has nothing to do with how well or fast it glides. Furthermore, when flying squirrels aren’t flying, they’re walking, on tree branches, that is. No matter the size of branch, large or small, they walk. As the squirrels travel along a branch, they maintain a steady, relatively slow pace.
Why do flying squirrels fly, or rather glide? The authors did not directly test this question but they think that gliding gives these squirrels a great advantage in patchy forests habitats. Firstly, gliding requires less energy than walking, which allows for travel from one place to another very quickly. Second, long distance gliding is a great way to escape a predator. If a flying squirrel spots a predator, it can distance itself from that predator very quickly. Finally, gliding reduces travel time between food patches. Squirrels are able to visit more food patches over greater distances. In complex habitats, like the ones flying squirrels live in, getting from one patch to the next and escaping predators as quickly as possible is always a plus.
As a confirmation, the scientists also examined the lower anatomy of flying squirrels. They examined the hip and thigh bones of flying squirrels. Based on size, shape, and position of these bones the scientists found that flying squirrels seemed to be better designed for leaping and less for walking along branches. They believe this is one reason why these squirrels are able to achieve such strong take offs and able to glide so far.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
National Public Health Week - April 7-13. The Environment and our Public Health. It is time to Take Action!
Our lives are connected to the larger world. City and sub-urban living, with all of its conveniences can really remove us from the rest of the world. Our sturdy homes and shelters and office buildings make us feel safe from the outside elements. Appliances make daily life less physically taxing and give us more time for leisure. And our electronics keep us entertained and free from boredom. The NCSE and the APHA, one is an organization of environmental scientists and the other of public health researchers and administrators, have come together for one purpose --to promote awareness about the interconnectedness of the health of our planet and its people.
It's time we make the connection between the way we lead our lives, our impact on the planet, and the planet’s impact on our health.
During National Public Health Week 2008 APHA is encouraging individuals, families and communities to change their behavior in five important ways. Each day a new focus is addressed.
Monday: Be Prepared.
Inform yourself about the health impacts of climate change and climate change issues facing your community, and take actions to prepare for possible emergencies.
Tuesday: Travel Differently.
Leave the car at home one day, and take public transportation. Walk or bike, but if you need to drive, carpool – and telecommute if you can.
Wednesday: Eat Differently. Buy food from a community farmer’s market that doesn’t travel across the country to get to you. Eat more vegetables, and less meat.
Thursday: Green Your Work.
Use recycled paper if you don’t already, and even if you do, print less often and on both sides of the paper. Set your computer to energy-saver mode and buy eco-friendly office furniture.
Friday: Green Your Home.
Seal and insulate your home and replace air filters frequently to cut costs and save energy. Reduce your use of wasteful products, and reuse or recycle the products you do use. Conserve water whenever possible.
For more info:
Visit the website
Check out the Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance Toolkit. The toolkit includes fact sheets, media outreach materials, suggested community events, legislative information, resources, and activities for children and teachers to use throughout NPHW
Friday, April 04, 2008
April showers bring May Flowers. It's the month of spring and sunshine and rain puddles and fresh green field with flowers blooming.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The month of April celebrates National Library Week (April 13-19)! To celebrate, I will post Book reviews of Children's Science Literature.
I am featuring two books, companion books actually, both published by Scholastic , 2007 as a part of their Undersea Encounters Series.
Predators of the Sea
by Mary Jo Rhodes, and David Hall,(Photographer)
This Trade book provided great descriptions of the predatory behavior of several species. Everything is covered from the brute strength of starfish to the cleverness of scorpion fish, this book introduces young readers to the variety of tactics different sea animals use to catch dinner. The book is filled with excellent color photos that are sure to engage students. Plus, the book is very easy to read.
Survival Secrets of of Sea Animals by Mary Jo Rhodes, and David Hall, (Photographer)
This book is great. I loved it. As a companion to Predators, it explains all of the ways different sea animals avoid and wriggle their ways out the clutches of the most clever sea predators. The photos are excellent and the text is engaging. I highly recommend this book for young readers and environmental educators, too.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I've been concerned about growing the reach of this blog. I realize that my original focus is falling short. That's not a bad thing. I am learning something important about outreach. I have failed to reach out to other kindred spirits - science educators, environmental educators, outdoor educators - who blog. Not as easy as I thought it should be. I can't yet find a directory or aggregate for science education related blogs. Even technorati bounced back alot of stuff that seemed off base.
I finally googled it, here's what I've come up with.
Citizen Science Projects - Real people, doing real science.
Science Fair Projects Blog - A blog of science fair projects, experiments, how-to information, sources for supplies.
science-projects - http://science-projects.blogspot.com/
Squidoo : Lens : Demonstration Science Projects - Need to demonstrate a science project in front of the class? Here's some science projects that make great demonstrations! #1 Overnight Science...
Squidoo : Lens : Science Projects - Overnight science projects - projects for science fairs that you can start and finish in 24 hours - links to more involved ones too!
I'll check these out and let you know what I think. Also, I realize that commenting on other blogs is a big deal too. The thing is, most people comment on controversial topics. If I tend to agree with post, I usually nod, but don't post. I suspect that happens with my entries. I get traffic, but comments are low.
It's all about finding an audience.