Often known as The Tree of Life, The Olive Tree is this month’s focus on Elementary Science. The passing of an Olive Branch has been longtime known as offering a sign of Peace. The Olive fruit, oil and leaves all have significant healing and strengthening properties for the human body. In Jesus’ Biblical times, Noah had sent a Dove out of the Arc to see if there was dry land, and the Dove returned with an Olive Branch in its mouth to signify there was dry land and sparkling life beyond the waters of the Arc. All of His sermons were given on The Mount of Olives. In Greek mythology, the Goddess Athena brought the Olive Tree to the people for abundance and a long healthy life.
Here is an indoor and outdoor activity your class can do for learning the science of The Olive Tree.
Growing From Seed:
Here are some basic instructions for growing an Olive Tree from a seed, though most likely, the plant won’t ever bear actual fruit. For some reason we are still researching, the only ones that bear fruit once growing, are the trees that are sourced from a cutting. However, you can still have fun planting an Olive Plant in the classroom from a pit, and watch it grow through most of its stages. Or, you can have your class visit a Nursery and retrieve actual cuttings to plant.
Empty milk or juice carton (2 for each student)
Sea Soil (Soil that has been fertilized with seaplants like kelp)
Cactus Potting Soil (sandy)
5/6 Olive Pits
Small pebbles or small broken terra cotta pot pieces
Desk-size piece of leftover cotton fabric
Thick Pencil or Pen
1/2 Spray bottles to share
1 Have all students bring from home 2 empty milk or juice cartons, and a handful of pebbles.
2 Lay out a piece of cotton fabric to catch dirt drippings
3 Cut the first carton down to about 3 inches and fill with compost.
4 Place the Olive seeds sporadically across the compost soil.
5 Once the seeds are in place, spray with water bottle to moisten the seeds.
6 Keep the seeds and compost damp (but not soaking wet). Place them on window sill where they will receive lots of warm sunshine
7 With constant daily spraying and sunshine, germination will take place within several weeks.
1 After the seeds have begun to sprout, cut the top off the second milk/juice carton.
2 In the bottom of the carton, poke the pencil or pen through the middle and create a hole about 1 inch in diameter.
3 Layer the bottom of the carton with 8 or 10 of the pebbles, not covering the entire surface, though enough to allow water to flow through.
4 With a ratio of about 1:3 mix seasoil with cactus potting soil and fill the carton to about 3/4.
5 Move the healthiest looking germinated seeds from the short cartons to the second taller cartons.
6 Water the seedlings well – only when the soil in the pot feels dry.
7 Keep the plants in the same warm, sunny area indoors – even if is warm outdoors, as the plants are still in a stage where they need extra nurturing.
8 As it grows, prune the lower leaves off of the Olive Tree as it begins to grow, to encourage its upward growth into a tree.
9 Transplant the small trees outdoors only if you live in a warm climate.
Planting From a Cutting:
If you want to grow an Olive plant that one day bears actual fruit, it is better to grow from a cutting than the seed.
1 Find a friend or local tree nursery who would give you a small cutting of their already growing olive tree.
2 With a sharp set of scissors or branch trimmer, cut a small branch off a tree, just under where the “V” is (sort of two small branches in one).
3 Dip it in water and if you have some available, then dip the cutting in “root stim” (Comes in a small bottle and looks like this: (http://www.progressive-growth.com/proddetail.php?prod=34022). Root stim is a plant hormone that can aid in getting a cutting to grow a root. You could possibly borrow a bottle from a neighbor or a nursery may donate one to your class.
4 Follow the same instructions of the Second Carton section from above. Keep the plant in the sunlight, Spray the Leaves, and water once a week. It is important to spray the leaves everyday as this is how the plant will first take in water, whereas there are no roots as of yet. Olive plants need lots of sunlight as they are originally a plant from the Middle East.
Note: if you are planting from a raw cutting, it is always best to cut just under one of the “V’s” or “W’s” where the very new baby growth is, as this is what will grow new roots with best possibility. The older wood pruned off can be saved for other activities, like handing someone an olive branch (sign of peace).
For more tips on growing and pruning Olive Trees, you can visit here:
Olive Tree Nursery Outing:
Have your class visit a local Tree Nursery. Phone ahead and ask if they have any Olive Trees there to study. If there are no Olive trees yet around to study, study some of the other trees at the Nursery. If a trek to a local nursery is not possible, have a simple outdoor trek around the school grounds. Ask the Learners to study the growth patterns of the tree branches. If your school is close to the ocean, visit the beach and retrieve seashells that clearly show the spiral growth pattern. It is called the Fibonacci Spiral. Here are some of the other plants and seeds they may find to see the Spiral: the Pinecone, in the Branch growth pattern of trees, the mini-fruit pieces of the Pineapple, the Artichoke flower, a Fern during its uncurling, and Seashells.
Science and Math are so intricately connected in all areas. The Fibonacci Spiral and The Fibonacci Sequence is a great example of this. Fibonacci is a Number / Integer Sequence, that when applied in geometrical form, manifests in a Spiral as in that of a Pine Cone or a SeaShell. The sequence was named after an Italian mathematician known as Leonardo of Pisa (or Leonardo de Fibonacci). In 1202, he wrote a book called Liber Abaci in which he gives name to the number sequence. There are historical examples of the sequence showing up in East Indian mathematics as well.
In Spiritual Theory, Life must look back on itself before it can move forward. In Relation to the human species, we must look back toward our Ancestors to learn Wisdom and give Gratitude to Life in the Present in order to move into the Future in the best way and in the Best Direction. Because in theory the Spiral is not quantifiable in the concrete sense; i.e. it is a sequence that is Infinite (no final end number), mathematicians use straight lines around the spirals to give it as close to a concrete geometric equation as is possible. Hence, the spiral looks like a spiral of expanding squares as shown here, and is known as the Golden Mean Ratio. In biological settings, The Fibonacci Sequence can be seen in the Spirals of the Pinecone, in the Branch growth pattern of trees, the mini-fruit pieces of the Pineapple, the Artichoke flower, a Fern during its uncurling, and Seashells.
To further see the mathematical relationship of the Fibonacci Number Sequence to the Fibonacci Spiral, you can visit our Math-Skills page: http://www.math-lessons.ca/blog/2012/04/05/fibonacci-sequence/.
And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here: