Beauty of Nature Study

by Dawn Oaks on January 30, 2013 · 4 comments

When we have the opportunity, the boys and I love to get out and experience school rather than digesting it out of a textbook. Yesterday was a wonderful opportunity as the temperatures outside reached into the 60’s and the sun was shining. During the last few weeks, we have been testing out a new science curriculum that focusses completely on bodies of water and the animals that live in them. Our study this week in particular was focussing on water currents, how they are formed, and how they are useful to supporting the animals that live there. Even though we don’t live by the ocean and the boys have never even seen the ocean, our little creek gave them a bit better eye view of exactly what we were discussing.

Watching the current in the creek as part of science class.

Watching the current in the creek as part of science class.

Our study began by watching the direction and strength of the current. It was interesting to the boys to try to discover what made the current change as we explored different areas of the creek. They decided that the creek was too low for it to carry them away, but not too low to carry a much smaller object. We found a black walnut and decided to see what would happen if it were placed in the water.

Dropping a black walnut in the creek to see where it goes in the current.

Dropping a black walnut in the creek to see where it goes in the current.

The walnut quickly took off down stream in the current until it got stuck in some grasses.  It was interesting as we considered different forces that might have the power to dislodge the walnut and where we thought it might end up as a result.

Our next search took us looking for signs of life in the water. We had begun reading of whales and quickly concluded that there were no whales that lived in our little creek. However, there were probably smaller animals that maybe even whales might eat. The boys’ best guess was that we could find “plankton”. Plankton are smaller creatures that are carried by water currents and act as sources of food for larger fish and sea creatures. Our quest was firmly focussed on creek plankton.

A baby snail is a good example of plankton in our little creek.

A baby snail is a good example of plankton in our little creek.

Cheers were heard as Josh’s small hand came out of that cold water with a small snail – PLANKTON!!!! We had success and felt a bit more alive in feeling that what was in our textbook was also in the real world around us. As we began to head back home, another observation jumped out at us. Zech began narrating his observations and the plausible scientific things that might have occurred to bring them about.

Discussing the impact of the creek's current and power as the creek floods nearby land.

Discussing the impact of the creek’s current and power as the creek floods nearby land.

He determined that the waters that would have flooded the land during our last storm had flattened the grasses. A further conclusion was that since it is wintertime, the strength of the sun’s rays are not strong enough to draw the dead grasses upward in their direction.  If it had been summer, the greener grasses would have yearned for the power of the sun and would have actually moved and grown in the direction of the sun causing them to stand back up.

Observing how recent flooding flattened the grasses in the same direction as the current.

Observing how recent flooding flattened the grasses in the same direction as the current.

We had great success in watching science come alive as it was applied in our own surroundings. Water currents, their role, and their impact are better understood. The scientists were very excited to make these discoveries outside in the beauty of nature while experiencing very unusual weather for the last days of January. We would love to hear what you find as you explore out your back door!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie McFarren February 1, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Nice job in taking school beyond the textbooks!

Blessings,
Angie McFarren

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Dawn Oaks February 2, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Thanks, Angie. We had a lot of fun that day. Our farm provides lots of opportunities to get our hands in our learning. Have a great weekend!

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Debra February 3, 2013 at 1:10 AM

This looks like such a fabulous day! Love getting out to do science, only we don’t do it anywhere near often enough.

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Dawn Oaks February 3, 2013 at 1:58 AM

Debra,
We don’t get out as much as I would like either. Just couldn’t pass up the opportunity of January temps of 63 in KY. Creative outings like this certainly help to rejuvenate my enthusiasm in the darker days of winter.

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