Signs of Spring Everywhere Signs of Spring Everywhere
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Signs of Spring Everywhere Update: March 29, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Worms Emerging!
Journey North participants are reporting worms farther and farther north.
  • Report the FIRST EARTHWORM that you see to Journey North!

    Doug in Sicamous, British Columbia reports on March 25: "First earthworm sighted after extremely heavy rain last night. I don't know if the rainfall was related or coincidence.
  • Eighth graders in Minnetonka, Minnesota saw their first on March 23.
  • Far Brook School students in Short Hills, New Jersey, saw their first on March 22. "We were very excited to find our first earthworms. We believe we finally found them because the ground was wet. We also have a lot of robins in our field, so we are very glad that the robins have something yummy to eat."

News from Journey North's New Worm Experts
Dunklin School District in Missouri has a big worm project, and students in Mrs. Shortt's fifth grade class are becoming genuine experts. Hope writes, "Earthworms are helpful. I am going to explain three benefits of earthworms.

  • Aerating the soil. Earthworms crawl around and make tunnels to loosen the soil.
  • Bringing lots of pounds of dirt or soil to the top layer. As the worms move up from the subsoil they push soil up to the top layer.
  • Enabling water and air to get through. Worms eat the soil and leave castings to loosen the soil, then they crawl around the soil and make tunnels. When people water the soil, the water goes through the soil.

The overall benefits of earthworms are helping the plants grow by loosing the soil."

Can o' Worms

Report SIGNS OF SPRING that you see to Journey North!

Worms are easy to find and study outdoors, but there's a lot we can learn about worms inside, too. Kasey explains Mrs. Schott's class's "Can Of Worms" project: "It is so cool! We bring in food from home such as leftover salad, fruit, and so on. Then we take turns putting the food at the top of the closed can. The worms move up toward the food. Sometimes they fall to the bottom of the can and we have to take them out and put them in the top layer of the can. This isn't just a little tin can-- it's a big round black can that stands on four legs. The can has four different sections to it. If the worms get on the bottom layer they will turn white and drown. That's why every week two people in our class carry the worms to the top layer{where the food is}.It's a really cool project and it's a lot of fun."

Life in the Slow Lane
Worms may eat on the go, but they certainly don't go for fast food. Just how slow ARE worms? Try this simple project and see! Cut a circle one foot in diameter out of cardboard. Find the center, and using a compass, draw concentric circles an inch apart. Your cardboard circle should look like a target.

Set two or three earthworms in the center, and use a clock with a second hand or a stopwatch to see how long it takes for each worm to crawl off the cardboard. Calculate each of their speeds and find the average to answer this.

Challenge Question # 12
"How fast does a worm crawl?

(To respond to this challenge question, see below.)

Discussion of Challenge Question # 8
"Why are puddles formed from melting snow more acidic than other ponds in most areas?"

If you dissolved a teaspoon of salt in a pan of water, and then let the water sit out, every day the remaining water would taste a little saltier. Even though the amount of salt in it remained the same, the amount of water would be smaller and smaller until eventually there was nothing left but a little pile of dry salt. Snow has about the same amount of acid as rain, but during the course of the winter, little by little the water in the snow evaporates, leaving behind the acid, which becomes more and more concentrated as the water it's dissolved in disappears.

Discussion of Challenge Question # 9
"Based upon what you know about the anatomy and life cycle of a frog, why do you think they are more susceptible to environmental contaminants than most other animals?"

Allison in Mrs. Elder's fourth grade class suggested that "frogs are more susceptible to environmental contaminants than other animals because they start off their lives in the water, so they react to contaminants in the water. Then they grow up and live on land and have to deal with those contaminants, too. They get a double whammy."

Allison hit this nail right on the head! And many frogs lay their eggs in the most acidic water of all--the water left from melting snow. Eggs and tadpoles usually require water to have just a small amount of acidity, and if it gets greater, they may die.

Also, frogs have very thin, delicate skin which can take in contaminants as well as oxygen over their whole body surface.

Discussion of Challenge Question # 10
Which of these bird migrations do you think are timed to coincide with the return of frogs? Give one or two reasons why you think so.

First grader Kameron knows about Great Blue Herons! He says they come back when the frogs emerge. He has seen Great Blue Herons when he has been duck hunting. They have long legs and they can dunk their heads very fast to catch minnows and frogs. When the herons come back to Vermont, they need to have food.

Broad-winged Hawks and Northern Harriers are two hawks that eat a LOT of frogs. Also, Sandhill Cranes and Bitterns enjoy eating frog legs and their other parts, too (most birds that eat frogs swallow them whole!)

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

Please respond to only ONE Challenge Question per e-mail message!
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 12
3. In the body of your message, answer the question.

The next Signs of Spring Everywhere Update will be posted April 12, 1999

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