Daily Schedule

Friday, March 15, 2013

Circle of Life Nature Walk with Faye Stoner

Faye Stoner, the wonderful naturalist who works at County Farm Park, took us on another nature walk yesterday. Faye always likes to know what our students are studying and, whenever possible, links the topic with our walks. This month's theme was perfect as there are so many ways to learn about the circle of life while out in nature.

Our first stop was a maple sap collection bucket. Each child got to taste the icy-cold and delicious sweet water. Faye also let us taste the maple syrup she had made from the very same tree. The children learned that it takes many jugs of the sweet sap to make just a tiny bit of syrup.

Then Faye gave each child a stem of a plant that appeared to have odd lumps. We learned that these lumps are called galls. If you ever see a gall, you can be sure an insect has been there. Galls are a plant's response to a foreign object, such as an insect or a mite. An insect lays eggs, and the plant responds by forming a gall. The egg develops in the stem through its larval stage, forms a pupa, and finally emerges as an adult. Some of the galls we saw had a tiny hole in them, informing us that the adult insect had escaped. But some had no holes, so we "sacrificed" one and opened it up. Sure enough, we could see a larva.

The children excitedly told Faye about the larva in our room - our meal worms. Some of the mealworms are now in the pupa stage, and we are awaiting for them to emerge as their adult forms.

We next saw some rabbit scat. Faye told us that rabbits eat their "first poop" in order to get every ounce of nutrition from the food they can. Amazing.

Faye also showed us evidence of a small rodent home in the grasses. This could have been made by a mouse, a shrew, or a vole. Faye showed us taxidermy specimens of each so we could compare attributes. While some of the students thought this was very sad, Faye asked them to think about it another way:  Part of the circle of life is that some animals are necessary for others to survive. We will definitely revisit this idea as we dissect our owl pellets next week - we will find bones and skulls of all three.

Finally, we found the remains of a rabbit, seemingly freshly killed by a fox, an owl, or other animal in the natural hierarchy. All part of the circle of life.

Our hour went so quickly, but we said goodbye knowing that we would meet with Faye again soon. We are incredibly lucky to have our relationship with Faye, and with the beautiful nature park right in our backyard.

No comments: