Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Backyard Biology

The beauty of homeschooling is that we can just go out in the backyard to do our science experiments.  It's especially gorgeous this time of year.  Just look at the changing leaves on the trees surrounding our pond ...

Ok, so that's not really our backyard.  We don't even have a pond.  And the leaves haven't yet begun to change in our neck of the woods yet.  But you can still enjoy that photograph.  It must be somebody's backyard, somewhere, right?

We did actually go to our local park recently to do a "pond life" experiment.  My oldest is doing high school biology and needed 4 samples of pond water to culture.  Then we could look under the microscope at all the cool, tiny living thingies.

Can you tell the difference between a Euglena and a Paramecium?  (I can see my friend Kristen raising her hand ... "pick me, pick me!")

Seeing these living organisms under the microscope was pretty neat.  Gathering the samples was fun too.  Here's my son with the homemade ladle-on-a-dowel-rod stick scooping pond water for his sister ...

Culturing the samples was, however, pretty disgusting!  One container had dirt in it, one had white rice, one had dry grass, and one had cooked egg yolk.  I'm sure I don't need to tell you which one about knocked us over when we opened it up a few days later!  Eeeee-gads!  The garage was one stinky mess.  All of the cultures had little thingies living in them, but the dirt sample had the most active and interesting creatures.

We always love it when we can take our homeschooling studies outdoors.  Everyone loves a trip to the park anyhow.  We always have fun watching the geese and ducks swim on the pond.

Here comes a group (flock, gaggle?) of water birds.  They all came to shore and waddled out of the water.  And then there was this guy ...

Wait ... is that a goose ... or a duck?

He sort of looked and honked like a goose.  But then his back was vividly colored like a mallard duck.  I'm still confused.  I think he is too.  We decided to call him a duckoose!  

Duckoose probably would have followed us home if we let him.  We're gonna have to go back and see if he's an oddity or if there are more out there like him.

But for now, I have to get my 3-year old out of the tree in the park.  It was the only place I could put her to keep her out of the water while the older kids were gathering pond samples.  Doesn't look like she cared too much, she was happy in the tree.

Next science field trip ... the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  My son is studying ocean life.  You know, I still want to be a marine biologist when I grow up, so I can't wait for this trip!

P.S.  For those that really, really wanted to know ... the Euglena is the first photo, the Paramecium is the second.  I looked it up.


Christine said...

This is about as close as I am going to get to a science lesson. How did you get the pictures of the organisms?

Linda said...

I googled and found the pictures online. It's exactly what we saw under our microscope. It never occurred to me to take a photo through the microscope lens. My son assures me that you can do that. Doesn't surprise me that he know more about it than I do. LOL

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, oooh, ooooh! Choose me, choose me! The top one is the euglena and the bottom one is the parameceum. And I know that because I listened in Mr. Thiessen's biology class, unlike some people who just passed notes (in secret code no less) about all the boys they thought were cute and what she was going to wear to the football game that night. Hey, did I ever tell you that I saved all those notes and they're in a big box in one of my parent's store rooms? We really need to go through those!

Blessed Mommy said...

How much fun, except the smells from the garage. We loved the Aquarium when we were out there a few years back, nice that you can take a day trip there. Thanks for your comments on my blog. Many Blessings.