Phenology and Journey North
have long been aware of seasonal changes in the natural world. Phenology
is the study of the seasonal timing of life cycle events such as
when certain animals migrate or hatch and when different plants
flower and leaf out. This timing is directly affected by day length,
temperature, and rainfall.
Journey North students closely observe the natural world and record
data, they notice and better understand patterns of seasonal change.
As they do this over many years, they can join scientists and other
citizens who look for clues about our changing climate and its impact
on living things.
to Collect Phenology Observations
each month, go outside as a class and record the changes you see.
Use the Phenology
Checklists below. Begin on the Fall
Equinox in September (or as close as you can). Go outside one
month later and see how things have changed. Journey North will
send a monthly e-mail reminder.
Watch what happens as sunlight decreases and temperatures drop in
the fall. Plants die or go dormant, so food is less available to animals. Some
migrate, some hibernate, and others rely on physical adaptations.
Each Phenology Checklist begins with sunlight and progresses up
the food chain — from sunlight to plants to animals.
SPRING: Watch how the
food chain rebuilds in the spring as the season progresses. Energy
from the sun increases, temperatures rise, ice melts, and plant growth
begins. The animals that eat plants appear first, followed by their
predators — and so on up the food chain.
to Do with Your Data
some of your observations in our Fall
Nature Notes and see what others have shared. How do seasonal
changes vary from place to place? >>
a partner classroom and compare your phenology data!
seasonal timeline or display. Encourage other classrooms to help
track various seasonal events, and provide a complete picture
of spring or fall's journey through your hometown — and
across the hemisphere. >>
looking at Phenology Checklists:
What signs tell us that fall (or spring) is approaching?
(You may want to add these to the Journey North list, or
create your own.)
What sounds, smells, colors, and feelings accompany
the season — and from year to year (as you
compare phenology checklists):
Lesson Links: Exploring the Seasons