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Tulip Garden Update: March 19, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

This Week's Tulip Data

Although some gardeners have had to get out the snow shovel this week, Spring officially begins this weekend! Take time this week to appreciate the amazing effects of the Sun's energy. We have an incredible 38 more gardens have emerged in the past week. Has Spring sprung at your garden site?

Snowstorms and Tulips
Recent Snowfall
credit NOAA
Residents in the Northeast shoveled out after a snowstorm blew in and dumped up to 15 inches of snow just days before the official First Day of Spring. Did your little emerging tulips wake up to a blanket of snow? Gardeners in Lexington, Woburn and Springfield, MA expressed concern about their newly emerging tulips.

How will cold temperatures and snow affect the emerging tulips? As the tulips grow and the sun heats up the Earth this spring watch your plants carefully.

  • Will the cold temperatures kill the plants?
  • Do you see signs of damage from the snow and cold?
  • Do the plants grow more slowly in cold than in warm weather?
  • Will tulips still in the ground wait to emerge?
  • Will the cold affect the bloom?

Keep your notes and observations in your Science Journal and see if you can answer these questions by the end of the school year.

Pattern Puzzler
Key: brown sqare = planted garden
green triangle = emerged tulips
Link for today's map
Ever think about the pattern of emerging and blooming gardens? Do you find yourself looking at the tulip map and wondering why all the gardens in the same area don't come up at the same time?

Study this snapshot of the tulip map. Collect the facts that you already know about the tulip project and give this question a try:

Challenge Question #6:
"Why don't the gardens growing in the same geographic region emerge from the ground at the same time? List as many reasons as you can think of."

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

Predicting Springs Arrival on 2 Continents
In the Fall of 2003 we welcomed 2 gardens planted near 60 N latitude. Both were planted to be included in the International Plant Study following the rules for site selection and planting. Although located at about the same latitude, these 2 gardens are nowhere near each other… they are located on separate continents!

Which garden will be the first to emerge in the spring? What kinds of information will help you make an accurate prediction? Both of these planting sites are on or very near bodies of water. Haines, Alaska is just interior from the Gulf of Alaska and Espoo, Finland is on an inlet of the Baltic Sea.
How will the oceans affect the climate of these two places? Learn more about oceans and ocean currents:

Try This: Hands-On! Create your Own Continents and Currents
You can make a model to explore wind-driven surface currents. With this model you can experiment with winds and currents and think about their affect on climate around the world.

Comparing: Spring 2004 and 2003

Each spring we are delighted and amazed with the effects of the sun's energy. A favorite quote this spring has been, "It seems unusually warm." And indeed, in some places, we have seen temperatures above average for up to a week at a time so far this spring. We also have witnessed some unusual snowfall amounts through the course of the winter months. Will this affect the tulips? Let's compare some facts to help us to find out.

Gardens Emerged:
As of March 18, 2003: 104 gardens have emerged of a total of 287 planted.
As of March 18, 2004: 157 gardens have emerged of a total of 296 planted.

Gardens Blooming:
As of March 18, 2003: 17 gardens have bloomed of a total of 287 planted.
As of March 18, 2004: 17 gardens have bloomed of a total of 296 planted.

Sharpen your pencils (or power-up your calculators) and find out how this year's tulips compare to last year's.

Challenge Question #7:
"What percentage of each total number of gardens has emerged? Is spring 2004 ahead of spring 2003? Give examples to back up your answer."

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

Teacher Tip:
Native Plants and Climate: A Seasonal Study of the Rhythms of Nature
Science Club at Cook Elementary
Shared by Teri Bickmore
Teri Bickmore, Midland, MI, shared a tip this spring about planting a Journey North tulip garden with her lunch-hour Science Club. Now she offers another great idea to schools and classrooms all over North America to extend the concept of the tulip study. The Native Plant project focuses primarily on native plants and growing degree-days.

As a component of the JASON Project, Teri created this unit and offers it to all the Journey North participants. Thanks so much, Teri!

Teri Bickmore's Native Plant Unit:

Uzbekistan Tulips: Discussion of CQ #5
Every now and then we have the chance to think "outside the box." This is what scientists really like!Tashkent is located in a wide river valley surrounded by mountains. How will this geography affect the tulips? Kara and Tiff have a prediction.
Here is what they wrote,

"The tulips (planted at 37 degrees in the US) will emerge and bloom at the same time in Tashkent. In the United States, areas along the line of 37 degrees North are starting to bloom and emerge right now."

Think Small, then Think Big
Just as you find significantly different planting microclimates around your schoolyard, we might also find great microclimate differences within geographic areas. A look at the location of Tashkent and you can see it lies on the banks of a wide river valley. Leave town headed East, West or North and you find mountains. This geographic area offers many microclimates within a small area!

Because we are not sure exactly where the garden is located we can only make a rough prediction about whether they will emerge before, after, or at the same time as others planted along the 37 degree latitude line.

Will Tiff and Kara prove to be correct? We will pass on any new information as it comes in - hot from Uzbekistan!

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

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 #6 (or #7).
3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions above.

The Next Tulip Garden Update Will Be Posted on March 26, 2004.

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