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Tulip Garden Update: May 5, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Gardens in the News
Since the last update on April 21, thirty more Journey North tulip gardens have bloomed!.
"The seasons, like great tides, ebb and flow across the continents. Spring advances up the United States at the average rate of about 15 miles a day. It ascends mountainsides at the rate of about a hundred feet a day. It sweeps ahead like a flood of water, racing down the long valleys, creeping up hillsides in a rising tide."- Edwin Way Teale

Take a look at this week's map and notice how spring is ascending north across our continent.

Official Journey North Gardens

The 13 Official Journey North Garden Sites

In the fall we introduced our 13 Official Journey North Tulip Garden sites. . Take a look at the map of these sites. Can you compare it to this week's Tulip Garden Data Map and find which Official Garden site hasn't bloomed? Once again, it looks like our Finland tulips haven't emerged yet! With over 30 inches of show on the tulips in Utsjoki, Finland, in our last report, we can't help but wonder-

Spring's Last Stop: Challenge Question #15
"When do you suppose tulips in Utsjoki, Finland (69.90 N, 26.90 W) will FINALLY bloom?"

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

Tulip Garden Highlights
Second graders from Enfield Elementary School in Ithaca, NY, report:

"May 3rd, after a cool April, our Red Emperor Tulips finally bloomed!
We have been watching them closely since 3/24/00 when they emerged. Today there was a solid frost (30F at 8am), causing many of the lanky tulips to topple over. But at 4pm (67F+sunny) the tulips are perky and open. Hooray for Spring!"

Fourth Graders from Plainfield Elementary in Saginaw, MI, wrote:

"Well, we've decided as a class that the saying, 'A watched pot never boils', is definitely true. We've been watching and watching for our tulips to bloom day after day. Spring break arrives, we're absent from school, and of course?lovely red tulips bloom without us!!"

And from Anchorage, Alaska, (Lat. 61.16, Long. -149.98) Mike Stearling writes:

"Our official tulip plot hasn't even emerged. One of the five other plots did emerge, however, but it's in a sunny alcove that we picked to see if we could get earlier results. I'll tell you when it happens!"

Photo by York Middle School

First single tulip bloomed today in the garden at Journey North Headquarters. They emerged on March 22, 34 days ago.
Here are records from previous years. Our cold April temperatures probably explain why it took 34 days from emerge to bloom this year:

  • 2000 March 22 (emerged), April 25 (bloomed) 34 days
  • 1999 April 1 (emerged), April 29 (bloomed) 28 days
  • 1998 March 24 (emerged) April 23 (bloomed) 30 days
  • 1997 April 5 (emerged), May 2 (bloomed) 27 days
  • 1996 April 17 (emerged), May 11 (bloomed) 24 days

Here's a Tip for Sharing!
Innovative Tulip Predictions for Kindergartners. From the lips of babes, "Our tulips are up and about 3 inches tall. We are each going to estimate how tall we think our flowers will grow by cutting a length of string that long. We can hardly wait to see them. We can't all remember what color the flowers are. Mrs. Holmes won't tell us - she made us graph our guesses. I suppose we'll find out soon enough."
Ms. Holmes' "Kindergarten Kids" (hholmes@montvilleschools.org)

Fences, Bobcat Scent, Wolf Scent and Human Hair! Discussion of Challenge Question #13
Our tender and juicy tulip plants make delicious fodder for our wild, hungry neighbors. In our last update, we wrote about moose and the Alaska garden site. Our question asked how high a fence would need to be to keep moose out?
Bill Vedders of Kenai, Alaska, shares his knowledge of moose. "The fence wouldn't be high, but would cover the tulips. To keep moose out a fence has to be about 10 feet."
He reminds us that the fence doesn't necessarily need to be a vertical one! You could also keep out unwanted critters with some strong netting suspended over the top of the garden!

Ms. Behne's Fourth graders from St. Croix Falls Elementary, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, sent us this tip: "We put human hair on the ground around the tulips to keep the deer away. So far the deer haven't touched the tulips."

Another gardener sends this advise, "As for the skunks eating the Tulips, if you can get some Bobcat scent and spray it around the plants, this might work. Wolf scent works for the Moose."

'Geotropism' and 'Gravitropism': Discussion of CQ #14
Plants in Space!
"If plants grow upwards on the earth due to gravity, what would happen in space where there is no gravity? Do plants exhibit geotropism in space?"
We are all fascinated with thinking about what it is like up in space. Even after over four decades of space travel, there are still so many questions we seek to answer!

After doing some searching, and learning that the term 'geotropism' is synonymous with 'gravitropism', it appears that how plants grow in space is still a hot research topic!
Understanding the requirements of plants for normal growth in space is becoming more important as we venture into longer space flights. Prolonged space flights will rely on the growth of higher plants for water purification, atmospheric conditioning, nutrient recycling, and food production.

Plants have evolved to grow on Earth where we have gravity. Plant hormones evolved to aid roots to grow down and shoots to grow up. When you get them into a zero, or less than normal gravitational environment their systems are confused and they grow randomly. This causes problems inside the plants and they tend to self-destruct. The good news is that good old oxygen seems to counteract some of these problems.

One research project conducted through the BioCurrents Research Center, showed that giving plants oxygen during spaceflight not only impacted root health but also may lead to changes in root orientation sending those roots towards the nutrients they need.
Keep up the research for our future space gardens!

A Wise Teacher and a Teachable Moment
Mrs. Dempsey's Class at Dunning School, Framingham, MA, concentrated on our plants in space question. Here were some of her student's ideas about what would happen in space:
  • They wouldn't be able to plant it in space because there is no gravity and it would float up.
  • If they got a chance to plant it, it would go up with gravity and it would go down with no gravity.
  • If you went to the moon and you tried to plant, it wouldn't grow.
  • If you planted in space and put soil in a pot all the soil would float out.
  • I think Uranus would be good to plant it on--all the other planets have something wrong with them. Pluto is too cold, Neptune is too hot, Jupiter and Saturn have too big an atmosphere and Mars is too cold.

Mrs. Dempsey shared this:

"I just took their dictation and wrote them to you without further discussion . Next year they will study the solar system. I plan to give this to next year's teacher so that she can use this in part of a lesson next year. The children will be able to see if their comments were accurate after further study of space and the solar system."

Great idea, Mrs. Dempsey!

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 #15.
3. In the body of the message, answer ONE of the questions above.

Journey North
Year End Evaluation
Please share your thoughts

The Next "Data Only" Tulip Garden Update Will be Posted on May 12, 2000.

Copyright 2000 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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