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Tulip Garden Update: September 13, 2002

Today's Report Includes:

Follow the Wave of Spring
It's Time to Dig In! This fall, plant a Journey North Tulip Garden so you can proclaim the official arrival of spring in your community. By sharing observations over the Internet, students across North America will follow the wave of spring as it moves northward and measure its pace from distant places.
Put Your Site on the Map!
Where will YOUR garden go?

Our International Plant Study map is looking kind of empty so far this fall! Watch with us each month as gardeners all over the globe plant their Red Emperor tulips and make a place for themselves on our map.



New French Garden to be Planted in 2002
This fall we will have a dot on the map for a French garden! The Kochs are an American family living temporarily in a little town named Dainville. Originally from Illinois where they participated in Journey North with their school, they are excited to see how the geography of their new home will affect the tulips that they will be planting.
Where’s Dainville? Pull out your atlases or warm up those fingers on the keyboard to search the internet and find their location. Let’s see who can be the first one to find the Koch family garden!

Challenge Question #1:
“Will the tulips bloom first in the Koch’s new garden in Dainville, or their home town of Tremont, Illinois?”

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Why Tulips? Why Not Native Plants?
Red Emperor is the plant (tulip variety) that we chose for our international science project. Many of you may ask, “Why tulips?”
We needed a plant that would grow across the entire northern hemisphere or world, to be part of our scientific experiment. The problem is there are no species of native plants that will grow across this vast region. So, we chose the tulip, an exotic plant -not native to most of the world but easily available -for demonstrating plant response to the changing seasons.

Getting to Know You
Your tulip bulbs have arrived and you're about to bury them underground. But before you take your last look, maybe there are some important things you should know about them:
  • Are all the bulbs in the class alike?
  • How might their differences affect their growth rates?
  • What do bulbs look like inside?
  • What parts will become next spring's leaves and flowers?

Your bulbs are the tools you're trusting to gauge spring's arrival. So get to know them before planting. This lesson shows you how to weigh, measure & learn the anatomy of your bulb before planting:

My Native Plant Field Guide
Photo courtesy of Archbold Biological
Did you know that every one of us live in a place that contains native plants special to just the place we live? The geography, climate, and microclimate of each special location all combine to make a habitat just right for the plants.

Try This!
Try your hand at making a field guide for the native plants in your area.

Data Recorders in Your Tulip Bed
Ever wondered what is going on under ground in the tulip garden? Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to measure the soil temperatures surrounding your bulbs all season long?
One of our Journey North classrooms tried something new they wanted to share. First Graders at Cape Cod Academy in Osterville, MA, along with their teacher, June Chamberlain-Auger put data loggers (probes) into and around their tulip bed.
Here is what she wrote:

“Our garden was split into two sections so I buried one (probe) seven inches deep in both sections. Then I placed one under the mulch (in both areas) and hung one on the trees in each section. I had six total.”

Temperatures were recorded every day until their plants bloomed! All of the temperature data were stored so they could be accessed with computer software when the class was ready to study them. What a great tool for looking at the effects of temperature on plant growth in your schoolyard.

The data loggers, called HOBO StowAway TidbiTs are available from Onset (1-800-564-4377).
This data could provide a jumping off point for determining:

  • Growing Degree Days
  • Comparing soil and air temperatures:
    Minimum and maximum, range and average temperatures
  • Following and comparing your temperature data with the information from your local weather service.

Access Your Own Phenology Records
Permanent Database for
Your Own Tulip Records

Wondering how a phenology event you reported last year compares to this year’s? Now we have a simple way for you to access the Journey North records from past years!

Going to Extremes: The Annual Microclimate Challenge
Today more than ever we hear about downsizing to micro, nano and pico size. What is a microclimate? If you're looking for ideas for an Experimental Garden, explore the concept of a microclimate and try your skills at our Annual Microclimate Challenge?
Here is the challenge: Cause two tulip bulbs to bloom as many days apart as possible.

Try This!
1) After you plant your Official Journey North Garden in the place that BEST matches your general climate, look for two opposite places that LEAST represent your general climate.

2) First learn about "microclimates."

3) Then find two areas whose microclimates are as different as possible. Find places where climatic differences are the most extreme. (Think about ALL of the factors that might affect the rate of tulip growth as you search for your two sites. Consider everything that will affect your bulb, from the moment you put it into the ground.)

4) Then tell us how you responded to this challenge!

Challenge Question #2:
"Where did you plant your two "Experimental Journey North Gardens" for the Microclimate Challenge? Describe your experiment, and explain why you chose the sites that you did. Finally, predict how many days there will be between the blooming of tulips at your two sites."

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

How to Report to Journey North

Don't forget to report when you have PLANTED your Journey North Garden

As soon as you plant YOUR garden, be sure to let us know! In next month's update, we expect to have many garden locations to report to you.

Simply press the "Owl" button to report from your site. (From the same button, you can also "Go to the Sightings Database" and read comments from all gardeners.

National Science Standards and Journey North
We've prepared a rubric to summarize how some of the International Tulip Study's fall lessons support the standards. Though summarized only for the U.S. national standards, the language should be easily adaptable for many state/province standards.
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

IMPORTANT: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-tulip@learner.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #1 (or #2)
3. In the body of the message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Tulip Garden Update Will be Posted on October 11, 2002.

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