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Tulip Garden Update: April 7, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Look What We Found In Kloewer's Class Tulip Plot
Gardens are springing up all over the globe! Here's this week's data for your map:

Among the 27 gardeners who wrote this week to say their tulips had bloomed, Mrs. Kloewer and her students sent us proof that their tulip garden in Nebraska was picture ready. "Our garden bloomed today, and here we are!"

What If...? Inquisitive Minds Want to Experiment!
When students read the planting instructions in the fall, someone always asks, "Well, what would happen if we DID plant our tulips upside down?" Or 10 inches underground instead of 7, as the planting instructions specify? Would it really matter if you planted them in a warm, sunny courtyard? What would happen if you didn't plant your garden exactly according to the instructions?

Experimenting students in Vermont tried this:
"We planted some tulips upside down to see what would happen. We planted one garden according to JN specs. And we planted others randomly around the building. Had a beautiful day, followed by rain. Perfect!"
-Dummerston Elementary in Dummerston, VT(betsyw@sover.net)

Now, for Some Upside-Down Tulip Results:
  • In Smithfield, NC, students tested, and here are their results:

    "We went out to check our tulips today and 9 out of 21 have bloomed. We were very excited. The tulips we planted upside down have not emerged at all." (Smithfield Elementary, Smithfield, NC)

Challenge Question #12:

"Why do you think the upside-down planted tulips in Smithfield hadn't begun to emerge but their JN garden tulips had?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Try This Experiment in Your Classroom!
Explore the magical ways of plants. How do plants know how to grow up towards the soil surface? Try this simple experiment:

Seeds Upside-Down: Follow the Zig Zag Trail
  • 4 or 5 flat garden seeds (pumpkin, squash, cucumber) per group
  • Paper towels
  • Clear plastic sheets (transparency material, plexiglass sheets, or plastic wrap)
  • Boards, or slates the same size as the plastic sheets
  • Rubber bands
  • Waterproof markers


  1. Each group will place wet paper towels on their seed boards.
  2. After observing the shape of the seed, and discussing where the top and bottom of the seed might be, place the seeds on the paper towels.
  3. In your science journal, sketch and label the direction of the seeds placed onto the seed board.
  4. Place the plastic sheet onto the seeds. Secure seeds and plastic covers tightly to the board with rubber bands
  5. Label the plastic "top", "bottom", "left" and "right" along the edges. Place all the seed boards "top"-side-up into a waterproof rectangular container containing a small amount of water.
  6. Store in a dark place and check often for germination.


  • Be sure to check the experiment often. As the seeds germinate, observe the growth of the roots and stems. Sketch them in your journals. Use a waterproof marker to outline the shoot onto the plastic cover.

  • NOW, FOR THE FUN PART: Each day you observe them, turn the whole seed board 90 degrees before you put them back in the box in the dark place. The next time you look, outline the shoot's new growth with your marker.

Discussions for you and your class:

  • What happened to the plant roots and shoots when you turned the seed board?
  • Did you notice the direction that the shoots grew changed when the board is turned?
  • Plants seem to grow towards the direction of the sun, even in the dark! Discuss why you think this is so.
  • Think about the tulips that were planted upside down, but still emerged. Can you picture what that tulip shoot looked like down in the soil?
  • Talk about the concept of gravity and its effects on us. All plant cells have chemicals in them that sense the effects of gravity. This is what you just observed!!

To Water or Not To Water: Young Scientists Respond to Our Challenge Question.
Earlier we reported that this is the 2nd year the official Texas garden hasn't bloomed because it's too dry. Maybe we should allow watering!
In Challenge Question #10, we asked your opinions, "Does your class think Journey North gardeners should be allowed to water their gardens? (In your answer, give all the pros and cons your class listed. Explain.)"
And now..for your votes?Ha!
It's unanomous (almost). Everybody says we shouldn't allow the Texas school to water and alter the experiment--everyone that is, except for the garden in Texas!
  • "NO, I don't think that they should water the tulips in Texas because it will alter the true time spring arrives." --Laura Dance
  • "No, I don't think that journey north gardeners should be allowed to water their gardens because the tulips should be grown without the help of humans because that's unnatural. Also if some people water their tulips and others don't it could mess up are charts."--Amanda Mantello from GMS
  • "No, Journey north gardeners shouldn't be able to water their tulips. This would mess up the whole experiment. In order for the experiment to show accurate results the tulips must be all grown the same. To do this no one can tamper with how the tulips grow. This is a scientific experiment and it won't be relevant if all conditions aren't the same. But, if you aren't a Journey North planter, watering would be a great idea!" --Kristen Antolini, Griswold Middle School

So, I guess we will keep our experiment scientific! Sorry for your drought, Mrs. Kent's Class at Hidden in Kingwood, Texas.

Amanda Mantello from GMS Shares The Wild Wisdom of Native Plants: A Fantastic Fable

Photo by York Middle School

In our March 10th Tulip Update, we asked, "What lessons could a garden tulip learn from a wise, wild native plant?" Here is a fable of creative insight from one of our great tulip gardeners:

Amanda's Fable, and Her Thought Process!

Fable: When Mary was a child she loved taking trips to the forest because she loved to look at wild flowers. When she grew old she decided to plant a garden. So, when spring came she planted a garden with millions of flowers. Winter came and the flowers slept. One day that winter temperature risked 20 degrees, a shock to the weather men, and the tulips wanted to come up. The wild native flowers begged them not to because they were used to the climate and they knew this heat wouldn't last. That weather didn't last and so the temperature dropped and the garden variety flowers started to freeze.

Moral: Listen to your elders because they have lived longer and experienced more.

My thought process:
Garden variety plants can learn many lessons from the wild and wise native plants because native plants have adapted to the climate of their region because they have lived there for so long. They have taught themselves to ignore some of the temperature increases so that they do not freeze when weather drops back to its normal, colder temperatures. These adaptations if taught to garden variety plants can help them to survive.
-Amanda Mantello from GMS

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

Important: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-tulip@learner.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #12.
3. In the body of the message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next "Data Only" Tulip Garden Update Will be Posted on April 21, 2000.

Copyright 2000 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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