December 22, 2015
Project W.H.E.A.T. concluded their first semester of work earlier this month. To give you an idea of the work they put in take a look at the maps and poster they produced for their end of class presentation. The maps are copyrighted so please don’t grab them. The level of detail here belies the sense of place that these young ecologists developed. A sense of place and a solid background in the ecological sciences must necessarily go hand in hand.
December 5, 2015
Join us Friday, December 11, 1pm at the Bridge Bible Fellowship (960 W. Palouse River Drive) as the young ecologists of Project W.H.E.A.T. present a project overview of their first semester of work. A big thanks to White Horse Hall for the opportunity to offer this class and for providing the eager young minds that have become Project W.H.E.A.T! White Horse Hall is a fantastic homeschool co-op based in Moscow, Idaho.
October 28, 2015
Project W.H.E.A.T. Sensor Installation
(Water, Health, Ecology, and Timing Study)
Location: University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanical Garden, Northern lilac
Species: The Red Rothomagensis (Chinese) lilac is a cloned plant grown as an ornamental. The most authoritative source identifies it as a cross between Syringa laciniata and Syringa vulgaris. The clone used for the USA-NPN Cloned Plants Project is properly known as Syringa x chinensis ‘Red Rothomagensis,’ sometimes referred to incorrectly as ‘Persian Lilac.’ Although introduced, cloned lilacs are not invasive. The USA-NPN Red Rothomagensis cloned lilac also does not produce seeds. (source: https://www.usanpn.org/nn/Syringa_chinensis)
Sensors installed (Thanks Decagon Devices for donating sensors and time in the field!):
The soil sensors we put in the ground are called 5TM -3 (1 on SE side, downslope; 2 on NW side upslope at 2 depths, approx. 9 and 3 in)
The soil moisture/temperature sensors: 5TM
The light sensor is a PYR (Pyranometer)
The Temperature sensor is ECT
The Rain Gauge is ECRN-50
We tested the temperature and soil moisture probes.
SE Probe: 22% soil moisture, 54F
NW probe deep: 24.5%, 53.1F – 9 in
NE probe shallow: 24.5%, 56.5F – approx. 3 in
We should research the common structure of this lilac’s roots system. It may be beneficial to helping us interpret soil moisture and temperature data.
September 23, 2015
Cloned lilacs, phenology, and the University Arboretum
What do these three things have in common?
They are part of our increasingly interesting homeschooler-led ecological field study. Half of this study takes place at the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The other half takes place just south on City of Moscow property. It is a restored riparian zone on the South Fork Palouse River.
These young ecologists (ages 11-12) have dubbed their project, Project W.H.E.A.T. (water, health, ecology, and timing study). Check in with us and read the latest here at our blog.
We are very blessed to be working with Mr. Paul Warnick, the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden horticulturist, the city of Moscow, Decagon Devices, and Mr. Jim Ekins, Water Specialist with the University of Idaho Extension-Coeur d’Alene. Mr. Warnick’s job is to care for the plants, develop new projects, and maintain the grounds of the 63 acre Arboretum. Paul has toured homeschool groups around the wonderful arboretum grounds several times over the past few years. For this project, he introduced us to the cloned “Red Rothomagensis lilac.”
He also took a few minutes to tell us the fabulous genetic history of the Dwarf Alberta spruce and also to give us the recent management history of the two arboretum ponds.
Mr. Warnick talked about the climate of the Arboretum and how the southern end (parking lot end) is much colder because it is at the bottom of the creek. The cold air sinks and moves down the creek from the northern end where it is much warmer. The southern end is a “frost pocket.” Observing the phenology (study of the key seasonal changes that plants and animals undergo each year) of the cloned lilacs planted at opposite ends of the arboretum grounds will allow us to better understand climate’s impact on these plants. Visit this link to read background information on these cloned lilacs. And remember the difference between climate and weather. Weather is what it’s like outside at any given time. Climate is the pattern of weather in a region over decades and centuries of time.
In addition to the lilacs our study will include regular observation of the butterfly garden’s flowers and pollinators, the two “Endowment” sugar maples, and various features of the two ponds. We will be recording phenological observations in Nature’s Notebook.
Read here about how citizen scientist-collected data from this type of study is being used in similar projects. Nature’s Notebook is a project of the USA National Phenology Network.
This project is our inaugural Citizens of Creation: Science project.
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