Plant a Butterfly Garden! And 4 Free Guides and Lesson Plans!

Planting a Butterfly Garden is a Gift Free to All Ages from National Geographic IMAX!  The following is the 1st Free Download (see bottom of of this article).  Following this are 3 others including: Grade 7-12 Learning Guide; Flight of The Butterflies (79 pp); And, also in Spanish!  See Below!

Objective: Students will plan and plant a garden in their schoolyard.

Background: Planning and planting a butterfly garden is a positive action that your students can take to help provide monarchs and other insects with resources they need to survive.  In addition, they will work together on a long-term project, planning where and when to plant their garden, deciding what equipment and supplies they will need and actually planting seeds or seedlings.  Since butterfly gardening is becoming more and more popular, you may be able to visit an existing garden with your students to get ideas.  Other resources include our references, garden supply stores and conservation and gardening organizations.  Many schools work with a Master Gardener in their area in planning and caring for a school butterfly garden.

In this lesson, we include suggestions for creating a school garden.  Many of the ideas and information come from an article by Jennifer Goodwin Smith in the January 1995 issue of Science and Children (p. 29-32).  She planned and planted a school butterfly garden with sixth and seventh graders in Maryland and wrote the article to make it easier for others to do similar projects.

National Geographic IMAX  Flight of The Butterflies Trailer: http://www.imaxvictoria.com/trailers/index.cfm?trailerURL=http://destinationcinema.net/tcvideo/FOTBTrailer.flv.

Key Concepts:

• Gardens provide a habitat for many organisms.

• Humans can help preserve and cre-ate habitats for organisms.

• Seeds have various requirements for germination.

• Garden plants are either annuals or perennials.

Skills:

• Read for information

• Create representative drawings and symbols

• Use a scale measurement ratio

• Use a scale drawing to plant and identify flowers in a garden

Materials:

• Graph paper for planning garden layout

• Seed catalogs, gardening magazines, butterfly guides, books on butterfly gardens

• Seeds or seedlings

• Gardening supplies (soil, fertilizer, shovels, rake, hoe)

• Containers in which to start seeds (yogurt containers, egg cartons, nursery flats)

Step 1: Planning to Plant

1. Get permission from school administration and maintenance personnel.  It is especially important to gain the support of the people who maintain the grounds.

2. Discuss how butterflies and other insects use plants, and how they need special plants at different times in their life cycle.

3. Discuss the work involved in a garden, including maintaining the garden during the summer and raising money for seeds and other materials.  Also brainstorm benefits of a garden (such as decreased noise and air pollution from reduced mowing, reduced soil erosion, a beautiful garden, food and shelter for many organisms).

4. Develop a timeline for the garden. If you start from seed, you will need at least three months.  A good timeline is:

•           First month: get administrative support, choose a site, hold fund-raisers if necessary, order seeds, germinate seeds.

•           Second month: monitor seedling growth, design the garden.

•           Third month: prepare garden site, transplant seedlings.

5. Decide on the criteria you will use to judge a site.  Important considerations include available sunlight, level of foot traffic, visibility to school and community and vulnerability to vandalism.

Step 2: Planning the Garden

1. Choose the plants that you will use.  Sources of information include seed catalogs, gardening magazines, books about butterflies and butterfly gardening, and other resources.

2. Encourage students to choose plants that bloom at different times.  Perennials are good since they only have to be planted once, but including an area for annuals will allow future classes to participate in planting each year.  Also consider plant height, color and length of blooming time.

3. Make suggestions as to the garden design, such as choosing colors that blend and making sure all plants are visible (i.e., tall in back, short in front).

4. Plan the garden together, using graph paper to draw a plan of what you will plant where.

Step 3: Starting Seedlings

1. Buy seeds (or plan where you will buy potted plants).  Sources include gardening catalogs, hardware stores and nurseries.  You may want to plan to use a combination of seeds and purchased plants.  Plants should not be purchased until it is time to plant the garden.

2. Have students bring in yogurt containers, foam egg cartons and other containers in which to start seeds.  You can buy, borrow or ask for donations of potting soil, fertilizer, straw, shovels, a rake, and a hoe.

3. Plant seeds.  Punch a small hole in the bottom of containers, fill with soil, bury seeds according to instructions and place containers on trays to catch extra water.  Students should be responsible for caring for their plants.  They can also measure plant growth, ger¬mination time, and other variables and keep track of their progress in a science journal or lab notebook.

4. Keep seedlings in a sunny window or under grow lights.

5. After 4 to 6 weeks, seedlings will be ready to transplant.

Step 4: Planting the Garden

1. Prepare the soil.  Turn it over and add some fertilizer.

2. Plant seedlings outdoors.  Make sure danger of frost is past.

3. Apply mulch to prevent soil erosion, maintain soil moisture and slow weed growth.

4. Set up a schedule for garden maintenance as a class.  Tasks may include watering, weeding and replacing mulch.

5. Set up a time to observe the garden once a week.  Keep track of what plants are present, which are blooming and what insects are seen in the garden.

6. Clarify a no pesticide policy.

7. Make a plan for caring for the garden over the summer.  Parents are often happy to help, especially if they have been involved in planning the garden.  The more people are involved, the less likely your garden will become a burden for a small number of people.

NationalGeographic IMAX Free Classroom Butterfly Lesson Plan Guides!

Classroom Activities – Flight of the Butterflies – All Age Groups

Classroom Activities – Flight of the Butterflies – Grade 7 to Grade 12

Educator Guide – Complete for All Ages – Flight of the Butterflies -sm   (79 pp)

And in Spanish!

Spanish – El Vuelo de las Monarca – Guia del Educador – 11.1.12 – FINAL

Other Great Butterfly Learning Resource Links:

Our Favorite:  The Karner Blue Butterfly Recovery Program, in New York:

http://www.albanypinebush.org/conservation/wildlife-management/karner-blue-butterfly-recovery.

Wilton Preserve Blue Karner Recovery:

http://www.wiltonpreserve.org/conservation/karner-blue-butterfly.

Nature Conservancy Karner Blue Recovery

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/indiana/journeywithnature/karner-blue-butterfly-1.xml.

Nature Conservancy of Canada Karner Blue Recovery

http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/what-we-do/resource-centre/featured-species/karner_blue.html.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

http://spotabutterfly.com/.

New Mexico Butterflies

http://www.nmnaturalhistory.org/300seconds-butterflies.html?searched=butterflies&advsearch=oneword&highlight=ajaxSearch_highlight+ajaxSearch_highlight1.

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here:

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/ocean.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/space.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/brain.html

 http://www.literature-enrichment.com/

And Our New High School and College Study Guides (All Supporting The Recovery of The Karner Blue Butterfly!:

Pass the Nelson Denny: Complete Study Guide and Practice Test Questions:

http://www.amazon.com/Pass-Nelson-Denny-Complete-Questions/dp/1482620588.

Pass the PSB COMPLETE Health Occupations Aptitude Exam Study Guide and Practice Test Questions:

http://www.amazon.ca/Complete-Occupations-Aptitude-Practice-Questions/dp/1481200682.

Practice the HOBET V!: Health Occupations Basic Entrance Test Practice Questions:

http://www.amazon.com/Practice-HOBET-Occupation-Entrance-Questions/dp/1479104000.

 

 

 

Love Chemistry: Liquids and Solids

Furthering and expanding our discussion on solubles, the in between liquid and physical state, here is another fun activity to try in the classroom.  Solids and liquids are generally easy to recognize. For example, slippery and wet items are usually liquids, like water, liquid soap, even blood. Solids are usually hard and easy to hold like a bowl, spoon, or even dirt. Solids have strong attractions between their molecules that keep them stuck together whereas liquids have some attraction between their particles, but the attraction is more flexible, allowing the particles to slide across each other. It is not always that easy to identify a liquid and a solid when they are happening at the same time. What happens if something is both a liquid and a solid?

In this activity students will explore the differences between a liquid and a solid.

Materials:

Cornstarch

Water

Large Mixing Bowl

Measuring cups (1 cup and ½ cup)

Instructions

  1. Pour the cornstarch (1 cup) into the bowl. Identify that it is a solid.
  2. Add ½ cup water to the bowl with the cornstarch. Identify that it is a solid.
  3. Mix the mixture, either with a large spoon, but fingers work great too.
  4. Let students explore the texture, grabbing handfuls and squeezing the mixture and then releasing.

How It Works:

This mixture seems to have both properties of a solid and a liquid simultaneously. This is because when pressure is applied, like when it is squeezed, the particles are forced close together. When the particles are closer together they begin to temporarily attract and attach to each other forming what chemists call “weak intermolecular forces”. What happens when the pressure is released? The solid seems to melt right before your eyes. This is because now the particles are not forced so closely together and are not as attracted and attached to each other and are able to flow like a liquid usually does.

Chemistry is an easy topic to teach to students of all ages, especially elementary school students as they are often very curious about how things change over time. Even looking at the leaves change in the Fall is an example of Chemistry. For more science teaching techniques from the National Science Teachers Association, visit: http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/elementary.aspx   or

http://www.chemistry.manchester.ac.uk/outreach/secondary/shows-lab-visits/solids-liquids-gases/

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, We Invite you to visit any of these pages:

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Teaching Acids: Shine Your Pennies with Lemon!

Ever had a lemon? Or anything sour? Then you have eaten an acid. Acids can be harmful like battery acid, but most acids are safe to eat like lemons, limes, and vinegar. In this activity students will explore how the properties of acids can be used to help clean objects. When acids are mixed with other compounds like salt, they form special molecules called ions. These ions are able to react with other compound nearby and have chemical reactions that can be used to change other substances, or in this case, clean the penny.

In this experiment students will experiment with the properties of an acid. 

Materials:

Measuring cup (1/2 cup)

Tablespoon

Pennies (dirty and old pennies work best)

Lemon Juice and salt

Taco Sauce

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup of lemon juice with a tablespoon of salt.
  2. Take a small amount of taco sauce and begin rubbing the pennies with it. (Use your hands, the more you scrub the better!)
  3. Periodically dip the penny in the lemon juice and salt mixture to help clean the penny even more.
  4. Scrub the penny for about 5-10 minutes until the pennies are nice and shiny.

How It Works: The taco sauce has vinegar and salt in it, which when combined form a super cleaning mixture. When salt is dissolved in vinegar it breaks into two ions (or charged particles), sodium and chloride. These ions are able to then mix with the copper oxide (a.k.a. rust) on the penny and dissolve the rust, leaving the penny shiny like new. The lemon juice and salt mixture does the same, with the salt dissolving in the lemon juice to form the cleaning machines, sodium and chloride.

When teaching Chemistry concepts, it is best to do hands-on activities. There are great vocabulary words that can be reinforced during Chemistry-related activities, like liquid, solid, acid, base, even words like chemical change, and physical change. There are lots of Chemistry topics around us everyday from how we cook foods to how our bodies breakdown the food we eat. For more useful teaching techniques related to acids and to everyday chemistry, you can visit: http://www.watchknowlearn.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=acids   or

http://teachingbug.com/edu/acid-base-science-experiment

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here:

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Hands-Free Balloon Blowing

Now that we have tackled, Liquids and Solids, we move on to the scientific properties of Gas.  There are three states of matter: solids, liquids and gas. Unlike liquids and solids, gases are a challenge to “see” because the particles are so small that they are almost invisible. We can collect gas when we blow up balloons or inflate a tire. Gas particles are supercharged, bouncing machines. Gases are not only very small but they have a lot of moving energy called kinetic energy and are constantly bouncing off of each other and the things around them. When a balloon is inflated, it is the gas particles that do the work, bouncing off of the balloon’s walls, pushing it bigger and bigger.

In this activity, students will see how gas can be made using a chemical reaction and how gas can be used to inflate a balloon.

Materials:

Several empty and dry plastic bottles (a disposable water bottle is fine)

Baking Soda

Vinegar

Balloon

Tablespoon

Funnel (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in the empty balloon. Note: A funnel comes in handy for this step.
  2. Fill the empty bottle with 1-2 inches of vinegar.
  3. Attach the balloon to the top of the plastic bottle, but be sure not to let any baking soda get into the bottle.
  4. Lift the balloon and let the baking soda fall into the bottle.
  5. The liquid will begin to fizzle and the balloon should begin to inflate. Note: You may want to hold the rim of the bottle to be sure the balloon doesn’t fall off.

How It Works:

The baking soda and vinegar mix to form CO2 (carbon dioxide) which is a gas. When the gas is formed, there is nowhere for it to escape, but into the inside of the balloon. As the gas particles begin moving around, colliding with each other and the walls of the balloons, it is able to inflate the balloon.

There are lots of ways that chemicals help make our lives easier and also safer. Airbags work using a chemical reaction and so too do ice packs. Even those bright glow sticks are made possible by the wonderful world of Chemistry. Teaching elementary school students about chemical reactions is best done near sinks as these can be messy learning activities. For more ideas about how to teach young students and fun videos/songs about chemical reactions, visit: http://www.watchknowlearn.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=gases

For another of our Fun Games for Learning Science concepts, feel free to visit here:

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http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/weather3.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/weatherbingo4.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/weather8.htm.http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/planetsbingo.html

 

Slimy Creations

In chemistry, there are two important terms, soluble and insoluble. This month, have fun making slimy creations to teach this science concept.  If a substance is soluble, it means that it is easily dissolved in another solution. For example, sugar is soluble in water. However, if a substance is insoluble, it does not easily dissolve in another substance. For example, oil is insoluble in water. In some cases, you can have two substances that are soluble in one another, but when mixed makes something new that is not soluble and instead forms a solid. This principle of forming an insoluble product, called a precipitate, is what this experiment explores in a fun and slimy way.  Another example is a natural formation of this slimy substance and it is in the aloe plant.  The following photo shows a cross-section of an aloe leaf and the slime that is in the middle of the plant, naturally formed.  (Pic: Succulent Plants;  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved May 6, 2013 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe

In this activity students will learn how a solid is formed from a liquid mixture.

Materials:

Liquid white glue

Borax

Warm water

2 Large Sealable Plastic bags

Measuring Cups (1 cup)

Teaspoon

Food coloring (optional)

 Instructions

  1. Fill one plastic bag with 1 cup of water and add one tablespoon of Borax and mix.
  2. Seal bag and set aside.
  3. Fill the other plastic bag with ½ cup of water and ½ cup of liquid white glue and mix. Seal and set aside.
  4.  (Optional) Add a few drops of the food coloring to the water/Borax bag and mix well.
  5. Slowly add the water/glue mixture to the water/Borax mixture.
  6. Mix the contents together, by gently squeezing the plastic bag.
  7. Reach in and pull out the slime.

How It Works:

The glue and Borax particles mix together to form a solid that has strong attractions to each other to allow for a new stretchy solid to form. The two liquid solutions were soluble, but when mixed became insoluble. The slime that is made is considered the precipitate. Looking for more, precipitate fun and information, visit: http://bit.ly/103ehLC. 

Discussion Questions to Ask:

  • What did we add to the mixtures?
  • What formed?
  • Was the substance formed a liquid or a solid?
For more of our wonderful games that assist teachers and learners in elementary science, feel free to visit here:

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/mammals.html

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Pennies in Motion: Newton’s Law of Physics

Newton’s 1st law of physics states that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion. This is an easy physics concept that can be taught to students of all ages. For example, when a bowling ball is rolled down a bowling alley, according to Newton, it would continue to roll until a force acted upon it, like when it crashes into the pins, or if it rolls over a rough spot on the alley. Often things continue to move until it is pushed back by another force, called gravity. This activity is a neat way to teach this principle of motion and allow students to experiment with different variables like changing the size of the coin, the size of the balloon, even the rate at which they spin the balloon.  http://www.ck12.org/physics/Newtons-First-Law/

In this activity students will experiment with the principles of motion.

Materials:

Balloons

Pennies (other coins are optional)

 Instructions:

  1. Place a penny in the balloon before you blow the balloon up.
  2. Blow the balloon up and tie the end to keep the air in.
  3. Move the balloon in a circular motion to get the penny moving.
  4. Using enough force (without popping the balloon) continue to move the balloon in a circular motion until the penny is spinning along the inside of the balloon.
  5. When you stop moving the balloon, the penny should continue moving around the inside of the balloon.
  6. Allow time for each child to try to get the penny to spin.

How It Works:

The penny begins moving because of the force and motion applied to it. The penny is not stopped by the inside of the balloon because there is no friction (or resistance) making the penny stop spinning. The penny is able to move in a circular pattern around the balloon because of centripetal force, which is a force that draws things into the center of a circle. This is force is greater than gravity, which is why the penny does not fall until, you stop spinning it and gravity takes over.

Teaching physics concepts to students may seem daunting especially if you are unfamiliar with physics concepts yourself. Here is another great physics website that can get you well on your way to feeling more comfortable with teaching physics-related ideas like Newton’s laws of motion.

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here:

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Spring Treasure Hunt: Wild Edible Science

For our Spring Treasure Hunt this year, we looked around the schoolyard and in our backyards for budding edible flowers and this is what we found so far – some being edible and some NOT.  Blue-Eyed Grass (See Photo to left), Grape Hyacinth, Crocuses, Daffodils and Narcissus.  Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrhynchium bellum) is a pretty 6-petalled native species (similar to Blue-Eyed Mary’s (which we believe only has 4 petals).  Both the leaves and the flowers can be steeped for drinkable tea.  Our class is still determining the nutritional value of our findings. Golden Blue-Eyed Grass is similar in shape and form, but different branch of the same species (Sisyrinchium californicum;   Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyrinchium.

For your Spring Treasure Hunt, have your class split up into groups and start documenting what they find in their notebooks.  If anyone has a camera, a photo can be taken for identification to show the class later.  Then, have them determine which ones are safely edible and nutritious.  Asking locals, or checking in the encyclopedia or library, they can then determine their nutritional value.  Differentiate between which species are native to the local flora, and which ones are not.  Determine which ones are friendly to the land and neighboring plants, and keep those ones.  You can, for fun, dig out and replace them with ones that are – though if they have a bulb for a root under the ground’s surface, the bulb must also be under-dug.  i.e.   if the bulb is left in when though the flower has been pulled up, the plant will continue to propagate.  We found out that Daffodils, Narcissus, and some Crocuses, though lovely to look at are considered best NOT to eat and did not make our edible list.  Whereas Crocus Sativa has edible saffron in the middle, other crocuses are NOT edible, such as a different purple crocus called the Autumn crocus Colchicum autumnale, containing an alkaloid called colchicine.  Always be sure before trying flowers out for edibles, and do your homework!  We also found out that Daffodils are Narcissus, Narcissus being the Latin name of the genus for both, and are native mainly to the Mediterranean region, in particular to the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Northern Africa and the Middle East .

These Beautiful “Grape Hyacinth”, or Muscari, though not a native species to the local land in our yard, is on the other hand, nutritious.  In the Mediterranean, and in many other parts of the world, the root bulb can be used both in salad, and as well, used in replace of onion, leek or garlic – roasted in the oven, or minced and sauteed.  The skin of the bulbs can be pulled off before cooking http://www.livestrong.com/article/523815-how-to-eat-a-muscari-flower/.  The flowers themselves are a brilliant purple and can be tossed in salad and placed on the dinner plate as a garnish http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscari.

At the end of the class note section, return to the grounds and carefully with a clean (sterilized) pair of scissors, cut a handful of the ones that were determined to be edible. Wash the flowers with the tiniest bit of eco-friendly dish soap and water, and then rinse with water.  Share and enjoy your tasty treats.  Share with the class which ones you like, and what taste thee flowers have – nutty, bitter, sweet, etc.  Grape Hyacinth or better known as Muscari, are reported to tase nutty, though we found them to be a bit bitter.  Maybe they become sweeter as time grows in the later Spring.  We suggest a honey lime and water mixture to pour over them – unless you prefer bitters.  We garnished our plates with the hyacinths and the blue-eyed grass, and also made tea.  The plates looked so Beautiful!

For more information, we also found a wonderful site for identification and classification of local native flower species:

From UBC, http://www.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/

Blue-Eyed Mary: http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/ShowDBImage/ShowStandard.aspx?index=14398)

Blue-Eyed Grass: http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/ShowDBImage/ShowStandard.aspx?index=29656

For Our Fun Learning Game about other great science activities, you can visit here!

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/mammals.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/space.html

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Science of Olfactory Response in Deer, Racoons and Coyotes – Saving our Edibles

In this article we discuss our landscape experiment of preventing racoons from reaping the entire harvest of the plum tree, while at the same time, welcoming and sharing the flowers with the resident deer.  The racoons were eating all of the plums from the tree (not sharing!) and then leaving a huge mess afterward, with nowhere then, for us to sit and read by the tree.

After each Tier of your Experiment, record your results and present your findings to your Science Classroom Teacher and share with your Classmates.  First choose a critter to deal with who has been causing a bit of havoc on the land to your plants.  The critters we were dealing with were racoons and deer, but we didn’t want them to go completely away as they are so beautiful and cute!  There are 5 Stage Tiers to our experiment:  Science Experiment:  Warding off Racoons, Welcoming but only Sharing with Deer!

Tier 1:  Jars of Ammonia

Place small jars of strong smelling ammonia around the plum tree to ward off the racoons.  This seemed to reduce the number of visits to the Plum tree by the racoons, but did not stop from still making a huge mess, both of their pits and their scat, nor did this deter the canine visits.  There was also a scatter canine (dog) who left a mess too.

Tier 2:  Radio

Find a small transistor radio and place it in the area turned on.  The sound of people talking and singing seems to alert them to possible interruption and danger.  This again, helped a bit, yet, when it rained we had to find an umbrella for the radio, and also had to keep charging the batteries to keep it on all the time.  This deterred somewhat, the racoon, but not the canines.

Tier 3:  Predators – Bringing in the big guns

Determine the main predators of the critter you are dealing with, and spray the area or soak cottonballs and place near their general entrance. If you can find the synthetic scents of the predator in a local hardware store, spray the scent around the area in which you do not want the animal to eat.  For racoon, we think the key predator is the Coyote, and synthetic coyote pee ought to do the trick to scare them back to another route.  This apparently is not a favorite friend to canines (domestic dogs) either.  We are only beginning to run this part of the experiment.

Whereas we wish to reroute them, and not hurt them, this seems a pliable stage to our experiments.  And whereas also, we wish to welcome the deer, though not let them eat all of our fruits, vegetables and flowers, we are planting in 3 different areas.  This is slightly to the chagrin of our neighbours who want them to go away permanently, but we love them and believe them to be Beautiful Innocent Resident Deer who are vegetarian and who provide good “clean” “scat” for the compost for our vegetables.

Area A: By the plum tree, with synthetic predator spray

Area B. By the top of the walkway, with no predator spray

Tier 4 and Area C: By the bottom entrance, with only vegetable oil and egg mixture.  Apparently, deer so not like the mixture of Egg yolks, light spices, milk and vegetable oil.  Giving the perimeter once every 10 days to 2 weeks, this ought to deter their olfactory responses to finding other flowers and vegetables to eat.  We will see!

Tier 5: Bringing in Bear

We hope we would never come to this, and it is Synthetic Bear Pee Spray.  When we are hiking we like to have Bear spray to ward off Bears should they approach you – that is a different kind of spray altogether.  But if Bear approaches you and looks at you face to face, would you have the strength of will to dig through your hiking pouch and pull out the spray?  You bet!  But in this experiment, we are suggesting the opposite kind of Bear Spray that which wards the animals off whose predator is Bear.  Apparently Bear is the main predator of dogs, a predator of racoons, and rodents and this Spray ought to definitely make them retreat.

Olfactory Senses of Deer, Racoons, Coyotees and Bears

Deer – The two species of deer found mostly in North America are the white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus and the mule deer Odocoileus hemionus. The most important sense in these – and in most animals – is olfaction – the sense of smell.  The preorbital gland of the deer is about an inch in length, Wikipedia says it is “not entirely clear whether the preorbital gland secretions of North American deer emit an odor that is significant in terms of chemical communication”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preorbital_gland#North_American_deer.

Most of the time, the glands remain in the closed position.  The preorbital gland is a pair of exocrine glands, trench-like slits of dark blue to black, nearly bare skin and are around the eye. Interestingly, they secrete pheromones and other chemical compunds onto twigs and branches as part of their communication system to other animals.  This is most interesting whereas some people do not consider animals to be “intelligent” in the way of having abilities to communicate with one another.

The moist nose of a deer, similar to that of a dog, allows the deer to pick up the faintest of odor particles that are then drawn into the olfactory organs. A deer can detect the odor of approaching danger several hundred yards away.  Their elongated noses are filled with an intricate system of millions of olfactory receptor sites (near 3 million as compared to only 5 million in human beings. Their keen sense of smell is very important for avoiding predators, identifying other deer, and identifying food sources. Their sense of smell is important for scent communication with other deer. Deer have seven glands that are used primarily for scent communication.

Racoon – They have a good sense of smell, this sometimes being used to locate food, for example when it is buried in snow. They are also known to use scent in intraspecific communication.   Raccoons have an excellent sense of touch, in that they smell with their paws and nose. “The forepaws are much more sensitive than the hind paws, with four times as many sensory receptors and a larger number of CNS cells responding to ventral forepaw stimulation.

twycrosszoo.org/S/0MCarnivor/Procyonidae/Procyon/Procyon_lotor/10PlotorDetPhy.htm  Typically, they identify the food with their eyes (visually) or with their noses and hands (through olfaction), they then proceed to grasp the item with their forepaws. “After grasping the object the object is rolled between the palms”, and the little pads of the digits (the fingers). The food piece is then brought towards the mouth. Raccoons always fiddle with their food with their paws before eating it, giving it a feel and assessment before eating it.  wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/0MCarnivor/Procyonidae/Procyon/Procyon_lotor/11PlotorBehFeed.htm

Coyotee – Prairie Coyote Wolves are scientifically named Canas Latrans, which means “barking dogs”.  Like the deer, it is the coyote’s wet snout that keeps its olfactory response running.

Bear – One of the animals whose sense of smell is strongest of all animals is Bear.  www.buzzle.com/articles/animals-with-an-amazing-sense-of-smell.html.  Bears have thousands of small receptors opposed to their very large smeller (nose).  Better than all other animals in smell detection, Bear has 5 times the size an olfactory region in the brain as compared to human beings.

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here:

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/ocean.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/space.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/brain.html

 http://www.literature-enrichment.com/

 

 

Automaton: Elementary Science of The Old-Fashioned Robot

This month’s Elementary Science feature is about the very early example in science history of what today we call a sophisticated robot.   An Automaton is basically an old-fashioned robot, or a “non-electronic moving machine “. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes one as:
1. a mechanism that is relatively self-operating; especially : robot
2. a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions
3. an individual who acts in a mechanical fashion
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/automaton.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TeaAutomatAndMechanism.jpg
This photo above from Wikipedia is a beautiful Japanese Tea Making Automaton.

In Jan., 2012, CBS Sunday morning produced a VERY COOL short video clip of Charles Penniman demonstrating Maillardet’s Automaton today home at The Franklin Institute Museum in Philadelphia.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7oSFNKIlaM.  Also known as the “Draughtsman-Writer”, this Automaton was built by Henri Maillardet, a Swiss clock mechanic who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms around the year 1800. After going through 2 fires, it eventually was found and donated to the Institute in November of 1928, after which a number of mechanics specialists worked diligently at its restoration. Compared to other old-fashioned mechanical robots through our scientific history, the Maillardet Automaton has the largest “memory”, including the ability to construct with its mechanical pen – 4 drawings and 3 quite lovely poems in both French and English languages. The Franklin Institute explains that his robot doll, as it is sometimes named, was humankind’s “…effort to imitate a living being by mechanical means…intersecting art and science…”. http://www.fi.edu/learn/sci-tech/automaton/automaton.php?cts=instrumentation.  The Franklin Institute homes objects of invention that tell the history of science and technology, such as Flight, Computing, Electricity, Photography and Instrumentation.

The Maillardet Automaton was a principal inspiration for Brian Selznick’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. His book was later in 2001 turned into Hugo, a 2001 film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Asa Butterfield, Hugo is a PG film produced in 2011 about the story of the first automaton. Set in 1930`s Paris, an orphan named Hugo lives in the walls of a train station and is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. He finds a friend (Asa Butterfield) who helps him solve the puzzle. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/

This photo is of a Swiss Made Automaton in CIMA museum (Centre International de la Mécanique d’Art).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CIMA_mg_8332.jpg  There is also historical evidence of a very early example of an automaton from ancient China, from the text Lie Zi in 3rd Century BC; and an even earlier meeting and dialogue between King Mu of Zhou (1023-957 BC) and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, noted as an “artificer. The text accounts Yan Shi proudly presenting The King with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his handmade automaton:

The king stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for a live human being. The artificer touched its chin, and it began singing, perfectly in tune. He touched its hand, and it began posturing, keeping perfect time…As the performance was drawing to an end, the robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had Yen Shih executed on the spot had not the latter, in mortal fear, instantly taken the robot to pieces to let him see what it really was. And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood, glue and lacquer, variously colored white, black, red and blue. Examining it closely, the king found all the internal organs complete—liver, gall, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines; and over these again, muscles, bones and limbs with their joints, skin, teeth and hair, all of them artificial…The king tried the effect of taking away the heart, and found that the mouth could no longer speak; he took away the liver and the eyes could no longer see; he took away the kidneys and the legs lost their power of locomotion. The king was delighted. (Needham, Joseph; Science and Civilization in China: Volume 2. Cambridge University Press; 1986) www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automaton

Another very simplified example of an automaton is that of a cuckoo clock. Once activated, the cuckoo comes out every hour and sounds “cuckoo…cuckoo”. Here is a short video from “How it is Made” showing how a cuckoo clock is made:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57NTH-v2GXU
For some of our Fun Learning Science games such as How to Become a Teenage Genius by playing Our Learning Brain, you can visit here:

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/brain.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/forceenergy.html

http://www.science-lessons.ca/games/weatherbingo4.html

 

What makes Blue plant Oils Blue?

Answer:  Azulene 

Have a look in your schoolyard and backyards, and see if you can find the Wild Flowers, Stones and/or Marine Life that contain Azulene (the chemical compound that would make them blue). Azulene is an organic compound, an isomer of naphthalene. Even though naphthalene itself has no color, azulene is dark blue, hence the dark color Blue in the essential oils of Yarrow, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, Cypress and Black Spruce.  It is not surprising that the Spanish word for Blue is Azul.  The mushroom Lactarius indigo is blue because of a derivative of azulene.  Azulene is also found in some marine invertebrates, and in Lapis Lazuli stones found in Middle Eastern Persia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapis_lazuli

The compound azulene has a long history, dating back to the 15th century as the azure-blue chromophore was first obtained through steam distillation of the German Chamomile flower.  This azure-blue chromophore was later discovered in Wild Yarrow flowers and named in 1863 by Septimus Piesse.  Its structure was first reported by Lavoslav Ruzicka in1937. With anti-inflammatory, skin healing properties, it is often in skincare products.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azulene

Even though Wild Yarrow flowers, Achillea millefolium, grow in colors of bright yellow, white, pink, orange, salmon and purple, the oil of the Yarrow flower is azure blue.  Blue Yarrow oil is what is termed as volatile as it has “proazulenes”, making it blue.

www.essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/yarrow.html

Yarrow oil is both a sweet and spicy smell, and is watery in its constitution.  Yarrow is Sacred, Holy, Healing and Spiritually Protective for many First Nations Peoples.  Thank you Mother Earth for these healing flowers, stones and marine life – and for Azulene and the color Blue!

Blue Tansy essential oil also is a vivid deep blue color due to its azulene content.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azulene.  It is wildccrafted from common wildflowers grown in Morroco and North Africa from thee daisy family.  The Latin name is Tanacetum Annuum.  Health benefits include natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.  Herbalist Peter Holmes says it as also a “qi” or energy regulator for the body.

www.Snowlotus.org/blue-tansy-essential-oil-article.aspx.