Something’s fishy with the strawberries

On Science Day, the upper grade students did a scavenger hunt.  (The questions are copied below for those garden coordinators among you.) The prize?  Lunch in the garden, with treats.

A week later, the dozen students with the most correct answers joined me for lunch at the garden table, and I laid out organic strawberries and oranges from our Be Wise Box.

Interestingly enough, one of the students had a box of store-bought, non-local strawberries with her, and as she shared them, the kids started an impromptu comparison taste test.  And as you can guess—it was no contest. The kids said the local, organic strawberry on the left was intensely flavorful and juicy–the one on the right had virtually no taste at all.

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Photo courtesy of Marisa McFedries

So wonderful to see kids connecting the dots themselves….It’s like the girl on the right is saying “Hmmmm, something ain’t right here!”  (You never know what teachable moments will present themselves in the garden.)

Science has a lot to do with….

asking good questions

and being observant

 Read the questions below.  The answers are somewhere in the garden.  If you are observant, you will find the answers!  The kids with the most correct answers found will be have lunch in the garden after Spring Break, with garden treats!

We can measure the temperature of the air, of water and of soil.  Soil usually has to be a certain temperature in the spring before it’s wise to put plants in the ground.  Find a soil thermometer in the garden and report the current soil temperature:

There is more variety in vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit that you’d expect.  Find the seed catalogue and write down the number of different kinds of peas you can order (add the snow peas, snap peas and shelling peas together.)

How much rainwater is currently in the tanks?  (The gauge is at the top)

Seeds usually look and feel smooth.  What are their surfaces generally like when viewed under a microscope? Why do you think this is so?

Name one poisnous plant.

Notice how some of the fruit trees are flowering.  Why is this not necessarily a good sign in Julian in late March?  What could happen to these flowers?  What would happen to the fruit?

Beds #2, #3, #4 and #6 are planted out with peas.  Which bed was probably planted first?  Which was planted last?

How much rain did we get during our last storm?

Look at bed #1.  How many DIFFERENT varieities of daffodils are in this bed? (There are 2600 different named hybrids of daffodils in the world.)

Take a look at the bucket of finished compost in the wheelbarrow.  What did this soil used to be?

Name three herbs we are growing in the garden.

What are the four things that are necessary for habitat?

Find the seed packets.  Which plant will be the last to harvest?

A trellis is a fence-like structure planted in a garden bed for plants to grow up.  How many of our garden beds have some type of trellis?

There is one small tree in the only round garden bed in the garden.  What is it called?  Is it dead?

Science Day in the garden

Last Thursday was Science Day at our school during which students went from “station” to “station” spread across campus for science-based lessons.  For example, San Diego Country Office of Education brought their traveling Splash Lab (microscopes and chemistry experiments) and Green Machine (soils, integrated pest management, water cycle) programs.

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Almost every student passed through the garden for a 30-minute class.  In the morning, we had the younger classes combined by grade so I divided the children into groups with an adult (teacher, parent, and/or aid) and explained that they would go to 5 different stations for 5 minutes each.  Each station was set up with a clipboard of simple instructions and the necessary equipment.  I went from group to group to answer questions, point things out and re-set materials.

Station One:  Planting Peas

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Station Two:  Watering peas

Other classes had already planted peas in other beds.  At this station kids observed their growth and watered.

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Station Three:  Storytime

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Station Four:  Smelling herbs

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Station Five:  Looking for habitat elements

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Mrs. White demonstrating how our beautiful fountain turns on when she holds the panel to the sun.  A wonderful day for hands-on learning!

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