Finding a Garden Site That Represents Your Region
Which spot in your schoolyard best represents the official temperatures
of your town? (This is one of the criteria for "official" Journey
North gardens.) Explore different locations and gather data on temperatures.
When you've figured out the best spot for your garden, you'll be ready to
proclaim the arrival of spring!
Materials: 4-6 outdoor thermometers
factors make up weather (and longer-term climate)?
Which do you think is most important for plant growth? In this
activity, you'll focus on temperature. Ask yourselves these questions:
It may be easiest to measure the daily high temperature, which typically
occurs during school hours: around 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.
can we decide which part of our schoolyard has temperatures most like
the rest of the city/town?
do we need to know first? How might we find the official temperature
of town or of parts of the schoolyard?
temperatures should we record (e.g., high and low for a day, average
per day, temperature at a certain time or times of day)?
differences in schoolyard temperatures.
outside and take measurements.
Draw a map of your school building and surrounding grounds. Do you
think the temperature is the same everywhere on the school grounds? Explain
your thinking. Which areas do you think might be cooler or warmer than
others? Why? Mark these on your maps.
In small groups,
take temperature readings in different locations. Record your findings.
List three questions raised by your observations.
sample map of schoolgrounds
Ask yourselves, How can we make this a fair comparison? For instance,
how can you be sure to measure the temperature for each location at the
same height above the ground?
Look at your data.
Back in class, have students record their findings on the school
map. How did they compare with class predictions? Discuss these questions:
was the warmest place you found? Why do you think makes it so warm?
was the coolest place you found? What do you think keeps it so cool?
did these findings compare with your predictions?
you think these temperature differences will change over the course
of a day? Why or why not?
do you think makes temperatures different in places that are not far
and define the word microclimate.
The areas you explored may have different microclimates. Brainstorm
what this word might mean. (Try breaking it down into the words "micro"
and "climate.") Next, verify the definition with a dictionary
or local resource.
can occur because certain natural and human-built features change local
conditions. For instance,
produce cooling shade
- a building
can block wind
- an open
location will get direct sunlight
- a location
near a parking lot may heat up faster
- a south-facing
slope will heat up earlier in the spring
- soil that
gets rain runoff from a roof might stay cooler for longer in the spring
your schoolyard's temperatures with today's official temperature.
As a class, find the official temperature of your city. Your local newpaper
may list the high, low, and average temperature for the day. How do
the temperature readings you found at your school compare with the official
your tulip garden site.
Ask, based on our microclimate study, which place do you think is
most like the local official temperature? What evidence do we have? What
questions do we have?
Before making a final decision on your site, look at Journey
North's Planting Instructions to see how your choice meets the criteria.
Use the Garden
Site Selection Rubric to assess how well your proposed site fits the
Deeper: Keep an Eye on
Once you've planted your garden, print out the temperature
chart. Throughout the season, measure the high and low temperatures
in your tulip garden. Use your local newspaper to find the same information
for your town/city on a given day. Record all data on the chart. Discuss
these questions as well as your own:
temperatures in your garden generally warmer or cooler than the temperatures
reported in the newspaper?
they are different, by how many degrees, on average, do they vary? Why
do you think this is true?
well do you think your garden represents the climate of your area? Explain
- If a garden
is planted in a warmer or colder microclimate than the local climate
how might that affect plant growth, emergence, and blooming? Explain
A Final Note
We recognize that you may have very few options available for a planting
site. Therefore, if you are simply unable to plant your garden in an open
area, please be sure to mention this next spring when you report from
your site. Describe the microclimate of your garden and explain why you
think this has affected your results.
Science Education Standards
Employ simple equipment/tools to gather data and extend senses. (K-4)
Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret
data to conduct a reasonable explanation. (K-4)
descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. (5-8)
sun is a major source of energy for changes on the earth's surface. (5-8)
and Space Science
Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons. Weather can be described
by measurable quantities, such as temperature, wind direction and speed,
and precipitation. (K-4)
Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and
processes of measurement.
Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.