Signs of Spring Everywhere Update: March 29, 1999
Today's Report Includes:
Journey North participants are reporting worms farther and farther north.
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.
The overall benefits of earthworms are helping the plants grow by loosing the soil."
Can o' Worms
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.
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!
The next Signs of Spring Everywhere Update will be posted April 12, 1999
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