Going to Extremes
The Annual Microclimate Challenge

If you're looking for ideas for an Experimental Garden, why not try your skills at our Annual Microclimate Challenge? Here's the challenge:

Cause two tulip bulbs to bloom as many days apart as possible.

A "microclimate" is the climate of a small, localized area in which the climate differs from the general climate due to the unique amounts of sunlight, wind and moisture this localized area receives.
Try This!
1) After you plant your Official Journey North Garden in the place that BEST matches
your general climate, look for two different places that LEAST represent your general climate. These locations have different "microclimates."

If you want to learn more about microclimates, try this lesson (grades 4 and higher):

Download this printable booklet designed to help build reading skills and support standards. Assemble and read. (grades 4 and lower):

2) As you search for two areas with very different microclimates, think about ALL of the factors that might affect the rate of tulip growth. Consider everything that will affect your bulb, from the moment you put it in the ground.

3) Finally, use our feedback form to tell us how you responded to this challenge!

  • Where did you plant your two experimental Journey North gardens for the Microclimate Challenge?
  • Describe your experiment and explain why you chose the sites you did.
  • Finally, predict how many days there will be between the blooming of tulips at your two sites. Come spring, we'll look forward to hearing what you discovered!

National Science Education Standards

Science as Inquiry

  • Ask a question about objects, organisms, events. (K-4)
  • Plan and conduct a simple investigation. (K-4)
  • Employ simple equipment/tools to gather data and extend senses. (K-4)
  • Scientists use different kinds of investigations depending on the questions they are trying to answer. (K-4)

Earth Science

  • The sun provides light and heat necessary to maintain the temperature of the earth. (K-4)
  • 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)
  • The sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the earth's surface, such as growth of plants, winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle. (5-8)