Saturday, January 26, 2013

in the name of love, on the altar of science

just wrapped up the... umm... third(?) full week of student teaching; fourth week entirely, because I had a halfsie week to begin with. If I wanted to know for certain, I would go count the log sheets... I have lesson plans to write for next week, and the kids are in the middle of learning about the life cycles of plants - we learned about trees today, and on Monday, we will be learning about seeds.

Yep, that's my pink paring knife. Preparing to sacrifice an apricot on the altar of science. As if there aren't enough seeds in the seed bin at school already, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, mostly because traffic was horrible, the roads were the pits and I was fish tailing. Pittsburgh, you need more than a couple dozen plows. You need a couple hundred. Borrow them if you have to. Also, you put down way too much salt. Plow more. Salt less. But I digress. #FromwhereitsnowsMUCHMORE

The seed bin* did not have the pit from a stone fruit, so I snagged an apricot, and a lemon. Because there aren't citrus seeds either. Okay, fine, I grabbed the lemon because I want to make a lemon curd, but lemons also happen to have seeds. I happen to need be able to use the zest and the juice from the lemon; win, win. 
*The seed bin has acorns and butternuts. BUTTERNUTS. I have Butternut wood in my dovetail box. Native PA species; very hard to find. Was impressed.

(So... remembered the lemon, forgot the batteries for the camera. Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry - I had to snag shots before the camera shut itself off.)

Also while I was at the store, smug with my apricot and lemon, I tripped over a forced bulb display. Part of the unit written in the science book is about how plants grow and change, and it features tulips. And an oak tree. But if I tried to bring an oak into the class room, I'm pretty sure my co-op would kill me. Unless it was an oak bonsai, but the only specimen I know of is at Phipps, and I think Phipps wants to keep it there.  

So tulips. Score. They had tulips. In clumps of three. I know a little about forced bulbs, and that is that they've been duped into thinking it's spring, when it obviously isn't outside (see today's sultry high of 14 degrees Fahrenheit.) My friend Katie knows a thing or two about plants, and fortunately was able to take my frantic on-the-spot cell phone call about how to keep one of the tulips alive - or at the very least, un-bloomed - until I was able to present a lesson to my students sometime next week. 

Several hours later... I get home and remove the pathetically root bound tulips out of their four inch plastic pot. Two of the tulips were bigger and were obviously going to produce blossoms sooner than the third. I pulled the roots apart and rather than set one of the bulbs back into the plastic pot and pack it in the dirt from the pot, I put the two large tulips into their own wide mouth mason jars, splitting the dirt between the bottoms of each jar. There was some Spanish moss covering the base of the plants in the original container, so I wrapped a damp paper towel around the top of the bulb to help keep moisture in and put the moss on top.  That, by the way, is an ice cube on top of the left plant, because the soil was extremely hydrophobic. The ice cube is going to slowly melt into the hydrophobic soil below, so I don't shock it by dumping a cup of water on it. No one was watering the plants at the store. [hydro = water. phobic = fear. Thus, hydrophobic = afraid of water, effectively]

Glass jars because we're in first grade, and it's all about observation.

The smaller tulip is going to live in the fridge until it's time to dissect it! Katie pick the plant with the smallest growth [check] for this enterprise, and that would survive with out dirt, but to wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a cup at the back of the fridge to trick it into thinking that the temperatures had dipped again. She said not to be surprised if the leaves fell off, but this should put the growing on pause until the lesson. The goal is to keep the tulip in the back of the fridge from blooming, which would strip it of its big chunky bulb. I can't do I dissection if I don't have a bulb. Someone suggested garlic if I got desperate, because those are bulbs, but it isn't my classroom. We would reek.  I will likely have to dissect before school starts, and keep the bulb in the fridge. Eh. It will still be cool.  If I bring the tulips in now, we can watch them bloom, and then I can cut apart the bulb...

 Now, as far as the two other tulips are concerned, I might bring them both into class, so that the students can observe how the two different plants are growing. Or I might share one with the other first grade. :)