Welcome to ON(line)SC's Virtual Learning!
Good morning, Naturalists!
Welcome to day two of our week on energy flow! Yesterday was all about food webs and how energy moves through nature. Today, we will focus on one of the most important parts of the food web: plants.
Think of how many different types of plants you know? How are they similar? How are they different?
Yesterday we discovered that plants get energy from the sun to make their food. Because plants make their own food, they are called producers. However, the sun isn’t the only thing that they need to produce food.
They also need water (H20) and carbon dioxide (CO2) along with sunlight. Plants use these things to create their own food-a type of sugar called glucose. Along with glucose, this process, also known as photosynthesis, also produces oxygen and releases water back into the environment. How do carbon dioxide and oxygen affect our lives? Without oxygen, we would not be able to breathe, and without the carbon dioxide we breathe out, plants would not be able to survive! Remember that plants and animals help each other breathe.
Plants come in a huge variety of sizes and shapes. Some trees grow to be over 350 ft. tall, while some small mosses grow to only a few inches. What is the largest plant you have ever seen? What is the smallest?
Big or small, all plants are important for life on Earth
While plants can be very different, most plants have similar body structures including:
Roots to hold the plant to the ground
Stems and branches to help keep the plant upright and pointed towards the sun
Leaves to capture sunlight for the plant to turn into glucose.
Let's take a closer look at leaves by making a leaf rubbing of our own! For this activity, you can use leaves you find outside (leaves from trees work the best), or the leaves attached to some fresh food in your kitchen. Make sure you ask your parents for permission first! You will also need a piece of paper and at least one crayon. If you do not have any crayons, pencils may work as well but you will need to be more gentle.
Set your leaf on a flat surface (such as a piece of cardboard or a table) and put a regular piece of paper over top of it. Next, rub a crayon gently across the paper with your leaf still underneath the paper. This will make an almost exact image of the leaf in crayon. This is called a leaf rubbing. If you have space left on your paper, you can make several more leaf rubbings, and create beautiful leaf art!
Here is an example that our staff did, along with a leaf rubbing that we used as a diagram to show the different parts of a leaf. Share your art with us!
Many plants also produce flowers as well. Flowers make pollen that is spread from flower to flower, often by insects, who pollinate the flowers allowing the plant to make seeds that will grow into new plants.
To better understand how flowers work, let's take a closer look at one of the most common ones we can find: dandelions! See if you can find any of these cheery flowers in your own yard. If not, perhaps your parents have been growing other flowers. Ask their permission before trimming or pulling any flowers, no matter what kind they are!
There may be flowers in different stages of growth. For our dandelions, some flowers may still be in the bud stage, some flowers may have opened up like a yellow sun, and some may be ripe, with lots of fluff. Choose a flowering dandelion and (with your parents' permission) see if you can dig it up. You will find that this is not easy, because dandelion roots are fairly deep and good at holding onto the soil. There actually is a special tool called a “dandelion weeder” that is used to dig up dandelions. Most of us are not lucky enough to have a dandelion weeder, so do your best with whatever tools you can use. Sometimes a stick can make an awesome tool to gently loosen the soil around the root. If the root breaks, that's okay!
If you do not have permission to pull up a dandelion, or are using any other flower, you may draw it without pulling it up.
Look at the head of the flower. This is where the seeds are made. How many petals are there? Too many to count? What lies below the petals? Use a pair of tweezers to gently open the side of the flower to look within and draw a picture. Label the parts.
For fun: Look for a dandelion that has ripe seeds. This looks like a ball of fluff. Blow on the seed head and watch the fluff float away. Each little piece of fluff has a little seed attached. The fluff is so lightweight that it will be carried by the wind to a new location where the little seed may grow into a new dandelion. Go ahead and make a wish!
Plants are an extremely important part of nature. They are the building blocks for the entire food web and their photosynthesis produces oxygen used by animals and humans. What would happen to the animals if there were no more plants? What would happen if plants did not produce oxygen during photosynthesis?
Plants are just as important for humans as well. What are some ways humans have used plants in the past? What are some ways humans use plants today? Take fifteen minutes and look around your house. See how many plant-based products you can find and make a list!
Thank you for joining us today! We're appreciating all of the feedback, questions and artwork that has been sent to us! Just a reminder-we will be answering questions live on Find-Out Friday, so go ahead and send those to us on our Facebook page or to Socialmedia@onsc.us!
If you enjoyed watching today's lessons and would like to purchase one of our ONSC Virtual Merchandise Packages, which includes an ONSC Program T-shirt and field journal, click to go to our Online Store.
During this time, we only have limited amount of merchandise available for purchase.
Merchandise orders will ship First Class USPS every two weeks on the following dates:
April 30, May 14 & May 28