Oysters: Nature’s Natural Britta Filter

September 24, 2016 at 9:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Busy week for the Little V’s.  We’ve engulfed the concept of adapting and how certain traits allow living things to survive depending on the conditions they live in.  By doing this the young scientists created their own fictional bird, incorporating a style of beak, wings, feet, legs, and color that would suite the needs of their environment.  The outline and artwork is complete and will be displayed in the class.  We’re going to tie in some augmented reality tech to this project (which is like virtual reality).  Maybe we could have a gallery night, let me look into that.

Adding Oysters

Filtering Plankton

Oyster

 

This week we also learned about how rough it is to be a sea turtle and the measures they must take to survive.  Students role played in this game of tag as land and sea predators were out to get those selected as the sea turtles.  Turtles had to complete three rounds in the obstacle course, grabbing a food/life token each time.  However, due to the effects humans play on the environment some of those tokens (unbeknownst to the turtles) were microplastics.  When turtles consume these they either choke or disrupt their buoyancy making it difficult if not impossible to dive for food or away from predators.

Sea Turtle Survival

 

Estuaries: Detritus Feeders

Then we revisited how estuaries play a vital role in our ecosystem and local communities.  The Aquaculture Technology Department at the Carteret Community College was more than radical to allow us to borrow some tanks, a few gallons of salt water, filters, plankton, and oysters to demo how these mother earth britta’s filter.  Science fact: one oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day.  And I thought I drank alot (of water.  Water folks.  I drink alot of water).  This was definitely a hit.  We loaded one tank with ten oysters, the other with fifty five, poured in the plankton and sat back to observe.  It was amazing to see how fast they cleared the tanks of the murky plankton paste.  Above are the scientists pantomiming detritus predators.  Can you guess which one is a fiddler crab, egret, raccoon, or red drum?

Oyster Filtration

These young minds had indepth observational insight in their journaling today.  Impressed with their outlook on today’s activity.  So what’s next?  Tons.  Literally.  We’ll be “swimming” with whales by the end of October.  Stay tuned.

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Ecosystems, Erosion, & Estuaries

October 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

These scientists are creating gusts of wind to erode sand.  They experimented with the effects of wind erosion with a barren field, then added sticks, rocks, and finally pine cones.  Our future leaders recorded and shared their observations on outcomes, and problem-solved how this issue could be addressed.

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After reading another spectacular KidBiz article on erosion, we created seawall replicas, modeled how they work, discussed why they’re built, and compared this to the planting of sea grass.  We examined the effects of how water can and will eventually find the path of least resistance, creeping it’s way to an ever changing landscape that is the coast (backyard).  We also performed the roles of wind and soil movements, pantomiming effects of erosion.

The NC Coastal Reserve visited us to discuss the effects our area suffers from erosion to estuaries and how these effect the ecosystem.  We have been selected to develop a plan to solve this issue.  Our crew will grow spartina grass from seed and keep track of the growth process throughout the winter.

CHS is allowing us to store the spartina in their green house until the spring, in which time we will then transfer it to a location in the sound near the school.  Real life problem solvers, not a multiple choice exercise.

Stay tuned for more action as we will create glaciers and observe how they also change Mother Earth’s landscape.

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Estuaries

September 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm (Science) (, , , , , , , , , )

Critters in Estuaries

Our crew of environmental scientists are exploring how humans effect ecosystems.  We’re currently reading an article from Discovery Education about the cause and effect relationship between humans and ecosystems.  With Ying comes Yang.

ying

Although we, people, put natural resources to work in our favor, we also leave negative consequences in our wake.  So far our youngsters have learned that two major consequences are deforestation and pollution.  This leads us into our first activity of how estuaries are effected in similar ways.  Thanks to our friends at the NC Coastal Reserve we were able to feed our tummies while also learning of this cause and effect relationship.  In short students begin with a napkin which symbolizes the estuary, and with this are given ten goldfish crackers.  Play by taking an ecological card and reading it to your group.  Based on what happens on the card determines if fish (from a pile of crackers in the center of the team) join the estuary population or are eliminated (eaten).

  • A fish eats a piece of plastic floating in the sound. Lose one fish.
  • Area is closed to fishing, three fish hatch.  Add three fish.

When all cards have been drawn, the game ends and the estuary with the most fish is the cleanest.  This activity segued our crew into the Izaak Walton Estuary Poster Contest (info below).  Join us soon for more as we are still working on our bird/fish adaptation illustrations and will also be pulling from grand ole Dr. Seuss and the forethought he provided when creating the Lorax (the book, not that B budget flick that Danny DeVito butchered in 2012).  Off the soapbox and off to make more soap.  Enjoy the pics!

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