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Tulip Garden Update: April 21, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Gardens in the News
Since the last update on April 14, tulips in another 4 Journey North gardens have emerged, and in 17 more gardens tulips have bloomed! Take a look at the map and notice how spring is slowly creeping north across North America.

Then, imagine you are waiting it out at our Official Garden Site in Utsjoki, Finland. Our latest news from that part of the world is: "We still have about 30 inches snow here in Utsjoki which means that we expect our tulips to emerge and bloom in June. Happy Easter!"
Annikki Lauerma

A Little Problem Reported in Rhode Island
From some students at Glen Hills Elementary in Cranston, RI:
"We have a little problem. Some animals are chomping off the tops of the tulips the minute they pop up. They even left paw prints in the dirt. We took plaster casts of them and are going to ask a parent to help identify the critters for us next week."

After consulting with the parent they reported:
"My parent who is the taxidermist tells me the footprints are not a rabbit. They are too big. He feels that they belong to a skunk. I am not going to argue with skunks!!

You Think You Have Problems?

Photo by York Middle School

We're getting reports that skunks are eating tulips in Rhode Island, and rabbits are eating them in Florida. But, from Mountain View Elementary School in Kenai, Alaska, we were asked:

"Ok, now we can see our tulip garden since the snow has melted. Is it against the rules to put a fence around the garden so the moose don't eat the tulips?"

Oh, spring time in Alaska! I bet those moose are hungry after a long, dark, cold winter. We asked Bill Vedders, a teacher at Mountain View, why there were moose in town this time of year. Are they attracted by those tender, juicy tulip bulbs? He wrote back:"Actually, the moose are moving out of town now and back where they belong because the snow is melting. They are in town more on plowed roads in the winter when the snow is deep."

Bill also wrote that one of the signs of spring in his town is an abundance of moose pellets! The school custodian has to sweep the blacktop when spring comes to get rid of the moose pellets! Why not just sweep those fertile pellets right into the garden to boost the soil nutrients, Bill!
Now we are curious, how do you fence out a moose?

Challenge Question #13
"How high would a garden fence have to be to keep moose out?"

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

Try This! Save Those Tracks
Are you seeing animal tracks in the soft spring soil where you live? Are you curious about who has been visiting when you weren't there? Perhaps you have heard the old saying about enjoying nature: "Take only photographs, leave only footprints." By taking some plaster casts you can bring home footprints, too, and learn some animal track identification! Here's how to do it:
  1. Get some Plaster of Paris at a drug store or hobby store.
  2. Cut a strip of cardboard to use as a collar to frame the footprint area.
  3. Read the directions on the package for mixing with water.
  4. Take the plaster, water, cardboard, and disposible mixing container and stirring stick out to the footprint site. ( When done, throw away mixing container, as plaster is not good to pour into any drain.)
  5. At the site, place the collar around the track, mix up the plaster and pour into the track.
  6. Let it harden-10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove it and brush off the dirt.
  8. Mark the date and location of the track.
  9. Use a track identification guide to help identify the track.
  10. Start a collection of plaster tracks you find in your area. Observe which animals visit at different times of the year.

Wow- Look at These Experiments! A Classroom Looks at Variables
Students from Audrey Dempsey's Second Grade Class, Charlotte Dunning Elementary School shared their tulip experiments with us. Here is their report:

"We thought our tulips began blooming on April 10, but we were not sure. Today (April 13) we saw half of them fully opened in the warm afternoon sun. We notice that they close up a little bit as the sun goes down or shade creeps up. Out of twentythree tulips, 11 are in full bloom and 12 have large red buds.

"We also planted some experiments. Here are the results as of April 13:
(All Experiments Planted on November 19, 3 weeks later than JN tulips.)
  • Group B Planted 7" deep. All tight buds, no blooms, stems are shorter than JN tulips.
  • Group C Planted 10" deep. Tight buds, no blooms, even shorter than Group B.
  • Group D Planted on top of each other. Have buds, no blooms, about the size of the Group B plants.
  • Group E Planted upside down. Have short stems, buds just emerging.
  • Group F Warm side of building, next to building. Bloomed on April 10."

Discussion of Challenge Question #12
After taking data on their plants' growth and making good observations, Audrey Dempsey's second grade class is ready to answer 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?"

"Our class (Group E) grew two tulips upside down. At first we did not think they would ever emerge, but they did and their buds are now emerging too. Our class thinks it took this long because they have to grow up in the shape of a J. They have to push themselves upward. They have to get around the bulb and push up."

Wow! This is a great way to describe a phenomenon called 'geotropism'. Just as a ball tossed into the air will always fall toward the earth due to the earth's gravitational pull on it, so plant cells have chemicals in them that sense the effects of gravity, too. The chemicals in the tulip bulb cells can sense which way is down and which way is up! No wonder plants always grow up towards the sky. But now, we can't help be wonder what would happen in space! Get your research groups together and see if you can solve this challenge question.

Challenge Question #14
"If plants grow upwards on the earth due to gravity, what would happen in space where there is no gravity? Do plants exhibit geotropiism in space?"

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

Challenge Question #11: Tulip Mystery Game Solved!

Glen Hills Elementary Game Website

We all know that the saying, "Two heads are better than one." This was proven by a cooperative group working together to solve our Challenge Question #11.
We asked you to use the chart full of information about the locations of 9 second grader's tulip gardens, and find out where the Hawes, Nelson, Murphy, Dempsy, Bridgers, Jamieson, Forbes, Large and Parsons Second Grade classrooms are located.
  • At John F. Kennedy Elementary School, in Ogdensburg, NY, a cooperative working group solved the mystery. Their members are: Katy, the Group Leader; Brandy, the Sun Watcher; Samantha, the Topic Person; Tiffany, the Mystery Location Person; and Tory, the Challenge Question Person. Good work team!
  • Pymatuning Valley Middle School fifth graders from Andover, OH located the sites of all nine schools and wrote to tell us that, "This game was fun!"!

Thank you to all who cracked this mystery game case! To check your answers, click on the Glen Hills Elementary Website.

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 #13 (or #14).
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 28, 2000.

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