A Matter of Degrees: Understanding Microclimates
Testing Whether Temperatures in Your Garden Accurately Reflect the Temperatures of Your Region.
As we prepare to use the blooming of tulips to track spring's progress, certain expectations probably come to mind. Most likely, we expect to watch a gradual wave move northward as gardens report blooming flowers, one by one. What factors might get in the way of our expectations? What assumptions have we made in designing this experiment?
In this lesson students will learn to recognize the variables that can create a microclimate. Then they will measure one of the variables, temperature.
2. Define and discuss the word, "microclimate".
Microclimates can occur in localized areas due to nearby:
3. What is the microclimate of your garden?
4. Measure temperatures in your garden.
When we pick up the newspaper we're told the temperature of our city. However, people in the same city will notice very different temperatures depending on their location. (For example, it can be 20 degrees warmer beside a sunny parking lot than under a shade tree on a north-facing slope.)
Do temperatures in your garden accurately reflect the temperatures in your region?
Print out the temperature chart .
Record daily the daily high and low temperatures that are published in your newspaper on the chart. Periodically, go outside and measure the high and low temperatures in your garden. Compare these temperatures to those reported in your local paper.
6. As a class, discuss whether you think your tulips in your garden will bloom "at the right time" for your region.
Note: If you don't conduct this lesson now, keep it on hand. In the event that northern gardens bloom before their neighbors to the south, student interest may lead naturally to this investigation.