Sunday, May 15, 2011

Science in the Park

A friend told me about a neat little play trail in our area last weekend. At the beginning of this short walking trail is a little mulched-off play area that has a giant dragonfly whose wings make a see-saw. As you head down the trail there is a butterfly area with a caterpillar whose tube body makes for some fun climbing and sliding, a chrysalis merry-go-round and a butterfly with net wings. A little further down there is a bee's honeycomb, then an ant hill and at the end there is a giant spider and spiderweb. Perfect for our insect study!

 Yesterday one of the first things I noticed was the over abundance of cicadas! It's that time --- time for the 13 year cicada! I took our Apologia Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day book along with us and we sat down and read about these insects.Unlike butterflies with a 4-stage, complete metamorphosis, cicadas have an incomplete, 3-stage metamorphosis. It isn't exactly incomplete, there is just no pupa stage. Periodical cicadas show up every 13 (or 17) years. Here it is every 13 years. The cicadas emerge from the ground, mate, lay their eggs in trees and then die. When the nymphs hatch from the eggs they drop to the ground, burrow down and stay there for 13 years eating rotting tree roots. At the end of the 13 years the nymphs all come out at the same time. Thousands Millions of them! YIKES! I was really creeped out by their presence. There was even one in my diaper bag today.

Watch THIS video to see 13 year cicadas in action.

We went back today since some of the equipment was too hot to play on yesterday so the girls could play some more but also so that they could learn some more! We talked more about incomplete metamorphosis but this time with a dragonfly. The young stage of a dragonfly is called a naiad. We found it very interesting that the young dragonfly lives underwater while going through the molting stage and even has gills to breath like a fish. When it is time to become an adult the naiad climbs out of the water, dries out on a stick or limb, molts one last time and comes out a winged, air breathing dragonfly.

Next we talked about the complete metamorphosis of ants and bees and how in the queen rules! In both social orders the queen is in demand, the females do the work and males are there to help make more babies. The girls both thought it was pretty funny to learn that before winter all the male honeybees are kicked out of the hive and die soon after since they don't know how to forage for food. Those bees aren't very nice!

And finally, we got one more surprise as we headed back toward the van. It was most definitely one I could have done without. Thankfully a friend had met us there because if I had been by myself I really don't think I would have been able to stay as calm as I did.

This nasty creature was stretched out across the walking trail, flicking his little tongue. I gasped and nearly screamed and very quickly backed way, way, way up. My friend took the girls a little closer for a better look and it wiggled on over to this tree. eeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkk.

Science Sunday


Theresa said...

Great idea to do science in the park!

TheRockerMom said...

That sounds like an amazing play area!! Thanks for sharing :)

Phyllis said...

Park science-great idea. We love snakes! Usually if you don't bother them, they would rather leave you alone.He is a good size!

Our Side of the Mountain said...

What's more fun that PLAYGROUND Science?! LOL The Museum of Science in Boston - we live a few hours away - has a WHOLE section on playground physics! But ick on the snake! (My kids would be OBSERVING it! LOL) Stopping by from Science Sunday!

Ticia said...

I want a playground like that! Great way to pull in Flying Creatures and talk about them.

We have cricket invasion most falls and it grosses me out as well.

Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!