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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Questions and Bugs

Our beautiful garden;
look how green it is!

The lesson for our kids this week concerned the Scientific Method. It was one of the funnest lessons I've been able to do with students.

In my first shift, my kids are kindergartners. They had never been introduced to the scientific method. This was something completely new to them. At least with the other lessons, their teacher had introduced the concepts in their classroom and our lesson in the garden was just to reinforce their classroom learning with application. But here we were, introducing this big, important concept for the first time.

"It's alright, we're scientists!" Diane assured the kids when they and their teacher both expressed concern that the kids had never learned about the scientific method. Diane and I explained to the children that, basically, the scientific method starts with a question. After the question, we observe. I told them that in the garden, we could observe in many ways. Their teacher is a big fan of observing with as many senses as possible, and the kids used their eyes, fingers, and nose to make observations in the garden. I let them touch the papaya fruits growing on the tree. The fruits were milking and the kids had a grand time smelling the sticky, stinky substance.

I directed them to the sunflower beds. "Hey, how tall are those sunflower plants? Let's go find out!" I had a yard stick and held the plant upright next to the measuring stick and asked the kids if they could read to me how tall the plant is. They loved that.

I wrote down the observations and asked them, "Now that we have some observations, how tall do you think these plants will get in the next two weeks?" At this, the kindergartners seemed to lose interest, and dragged me to look at plants with their teacher. I did get predictions for 20 and 50 centimeters of growth, so I jotted that down before following the kids through the garden and throwing questions back and forth with them.


My second shift, I focused on maintaining the garden. Our kids for this shift, also kindergartners, didn't come out, so while we had prepared for them, we didn't get to do this fun lesson with the children.

Marissa, Michelle, Laura, and I still enjoyed ourselves.

It was a hot day. Really hot. Even so, we did our work pretty well, if I say so myself. We weeded and watered, managing not to spray each other with the water to cool down, I may add. We built up the starter dirt pile.

And, in the vein of our prepared lesson, we made our own observations. They mostly had to do with insects.

Assassin bugs were out in force today. I showed them to my friends (I can't call them coworkers).
There were plenty of juveniles of different stages. I've not seen any really mature ones in this garden. That, or they make 'em different down here in Florida (I'm originally from Ohio).

Assassin bug

There were plenty of them; some of them were small and completely red or orange, but most were at the stage of development the one above is exhibiting. I tried to move some over to the okra, which had been getting eaten up. The previous shift, Diane and I had remarked at how many aphids there were on the Okra. 

Eaten up okra leaf

Luckily, we saw plenty of lady bugs on all the plants, so hopefully the aphids will soon be under control.

Ladybug on the okra

Other insects we saw included butterflies, caterpillars, and a bee about 1.5 inches in length! It was the perfect day for bug-watching.

We believe this is a swallowtail caterpillar.

A pollinating butterfly

As a last note, we harvested some beautiful gourds and radishes.

Delicious looking radishes


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