Welcome to ON(line)SC's Virtual Learning!
Good morning Naturalists!
This week, we'll be looking at decomposition! What is decomposition? Decomposition is the breakdown of the remains of living things so that their matter and energy can be used by others. What would happen if nothing ever broke down? Let's take a look!
Grab a box of food from your kitchen shelf, and take a look at the nutritional facts. Here's a picture I took of the label for a can of pineapple, one of my favorite snacks:
At the top, you'll find the calorie count of the food. Calories are one unit that scientists use to measure energy. In the case of food, the more calories something has, the more energy our bodies can get out of it to do day-to-day tasks like breathing, moving, and generally keeping our body alive. That can be really interesting information as well! But let's look in the middle.
Here, we can see the list of things like vitamins, minerals, and salt in our food. Certain things, like proteins and fat, our bodies are able to produce on their own, given the right food. Other things listed, like potassium and iron, are elements produced billions of years ago. Right now, we're not really getting any more of these elements on the earth than we already have. If all of that was tied up in dead stuff, would we be able to get what we need to survive?
Here, we can see the list of things like vitamins, minerals, and salt in our food. Certain things, like proteins and fat, our bodies are able to produce on their own, given the right food. Other things listed, like calcium and iron, are elements produced billions of years ago. Right now, we're not really getting any more of these elements on the earth than we already have. If all of that was tied up in dead stuff, would we be able to get what we need to survive?
On top of that, living things produce a lot of waste. In addition to what comes out of our bodies at the end of digestion (urine and scat), our bodies themselves are left behind at the end of our life cycles. If nothing ever broke them down, they would pile up everywhere, and nobody wants to live in a world where we're up to our eyeballs in dead things and scat!
So even though a lot of our decomposers out in nature seem really gross, they're doing a very important job keeping us alive and well! Let's look at the three major groups of decomposers: the FBI. Nature's crime scene cleanup crew! But what is the FBI?
Later this week, we'll be looking at each one in more detail! In the meantime, we've got a creative project for you today! Here at ONSC, we keep a bin full of delightful little worms that break down some of our food waste.
For today's creative project, we're going to write a story about a worm! Take some time and write and draw a worm's life story, from when it hatches out of its egg through its adult life. What does that worm do? What does it find to eat? Where does it get the things it needs to survive? Illustrate this and feel free to send us your stories at Socialmedia@onsc.us!
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