WVR's Science Spot

Welcome to The Science Spot!

Weaver Lake Elementary has a rigorous STEM curriculum aligned with both Minnesota state and national standards. Our key focus is on value added learning opportunities for each student. Technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the curriculum and the use of innovative instructional strategies is evident in every classroom.

Learn more about our Value Added Projects!

June 3, 2020

We have made it to the last digital day of our Coronavirus Academy of digital learning, and that is something to celebrate in and of itself.

Thank you for taking some time to notice and wonder with me each day and share a little joy in our natural world.

I will miss you all, and wish you much luck in all your future endeavors!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Swallow Nest #39

Swallow Nest #37

Swallow Nest #45

What happened?

Swallow Nest #40

Bluebird Nest #44

Bluebird Nest #49 our birds have fledged!

Bluebird Nest #36

Bluebird Nest #43

Bluebird update -

Hi! It has been a busy and troubling week in the world and I am aware, sad, and trying to help as I am sure you all are too! I also want to offer you a bit of distraction. The natural world can help me stay centered, and I hope it helps you as well.

I walked the Crow Hassan Prairie on Sunday morning. Photos of the bird nests above show the progress in growth of our bird friends! I also got a few new photos. I don't know if all of these birds will fledge by the end of the week, but I thought the photos were nice so am sharing anyway.

In nest box 37, I got a photo of the momma bird on the nest! Can you tell what kind of bird this is? The nest might give you a clue.

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


Wren Nest

Wren Nest up close

Chickadee Nest

Chickadee Nest up close

The birds in my backyard -

Here are some updates on the chickadee nest and wren nest. What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Are the wrens using this nest? How do you know?

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


Look for the helpers!

In times of crisis, it is good to look for the helpers. Currently, scientists have received more recognition than usual for being helpers. However, just like when we were watching and waiting for buds to open this spring, what often goes unrecognized is the discipline science requires. We could not have scientists working on a Covid vaccine without the discipline and practice they have learned over time and shared with each other.

That's why, at Weaver Lake, students spend a lot of time learning the discipline of inquiry and these skills come in handy for all helpers. Are you persistent? Can you listen with understanding and empathy? Do you ask questions and pose problems? Can you communicate effectively? Can you think flexibly?

One thing we often need in a crisis is some creative thinking and that requires us to think flexibly!

If we don't think flexibly, and when problems are reduced to binary (do you know that word?) choices, humans can get stuck and sometimes get into a fight because they think there is only one right answer. Examples of "binary" situations are when we think the answer is either: yes or no, good or bad, and right or wrong

The ability to think flexibly can help us help others. As we talk about all the time about at Weaver, there can be many workable answers to a problem and it is important to consider all perspectives. It's just that sometimes it takes a little extra thought to find the next option, the creative idea, or the compromise.

Now, how do we learn to be creative? Some people think it is random, but it turns out that creativity or flexible thinking also requires habit and discipline!!! This is a key part of STEM and is often a key factor in breakthroughs or discoveries that help people.

There can be fun ways to learn discipline and creativity - Here is a card trick you can learn! I hope you have fun developing your creative side in some way today!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


Swallow Nest #39

Swallow Nest #37

Swallow Nest #45

Swallow Nest #40

Bluebird Nest #44

Bluebird Nest #49

Bluebird Nest #36

Bluebird Nest #43

May 25, 2020

Those of you who have been following our bird nest developments know it is a busy time for birds right now. Despite all the rain in our forecast, I did walk in the prairie this past Sunday morning to check our nest boxes and found a lot of changes! All of our bluebird eggs have hatched and the nestlings are growing. Bluebird Nest #49 was full of little birds about to fledge, so I was unable to open that box and get a new photo for you as I did not want them to fly out too early. The photo above is still from last week.

I also found lots of new nests and eggs from swallows. The pictures of the eggs show that they are clearly not blue and you can see that swallows, unlike bluebirds, add feathers to their nests. I can't wait to see what baby swallows look like.

In my backyard, I will check the nests again Thursday! Maybe then we will find out if the wrens have built a nest!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


May 21, 2020

It is a busy time for birds right now. I shared with some of you that there are two nests started in the new nest boxes I have placed in my yard. I originally thought they would both be chickadee nests, but things have changed. One nest box is definitely a chickadee nest! I know because I found eggs inside, and I'll share a photo of the eggs inside below this post. (Did you know chickadee eggs were so small? They are smaller than a dime!)

The other nest has now been taken over by a pair of wrens!!! I didn't know birds would clean out a nesting box to take it over, but clearly wrens have claimed the second box. I have learned that Wrens can be fierce competitors for nest sites. According to All About Birds, they will even evict a larger species and claiming its nest after the bird has already begun nesting!

In my backyard, they definitely evicted a chickadee!

Now, whether the wrens will actually nest in it remains to be seen.

Here is why:

Male wrens build multiple incomplete "dummy" nests in several cavities. The female chooses one and finishes the nest by adding lining. The nest that is started in my backyard nesting box may just be a "dummy" nest. We'll have to wait to see if eggs are laid in it. I'll keep watching and post what I find out!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


May 20, 2020

There is a new fun opportunity on the MN Arboretum website!!!

Join the arboretum to make a plant and nature exploration tool kit!

It's FREE!!!

This spring and summer, they will be working on projects that you can do where you live with materials you already have on hand.

Join Reba each week for a new project that will help you learn a little bit more about the plants that live around you.

Please try it out!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


May 19, 2020

Yesterday, I mentioned that native bees are out and about thanks to all the blooming crabapple trees. I suggested you might want to stand still near one and you might even see a metallic green sweat bee!

Well, I went out into my yard and found this on one of the Anise Hyssop plants! Not to be thwarted by my photography skills, I will explain. If you look closely you can see a green spot. That green spot is a native bee. It is a small carpenter bee (Ceratina species). I am so excited to find it laying eggs in stems. There is a nice picture here that shows how they place their eggs in a stem. It is a science article, and you might want to read it, but the text is pretty dense, so you might just want to scroll to find the photo of the bee eggs in the stem. Maybe you like big words like oligolectic and pith. I hope you do!

If you find a little bee behind in one of your plant stems, please let me know or send me a photo! In fact, if you find any cool bees, I would love to know that too as I can get pretty excited about these little native creatures.

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten


If you have time today, you might want to learn about sound and music today! TPT Learning has other cool videos and lessons at the same link! Check it out if you have time.

Also of note, native bees are out and about thanks to all the blooming crabapple trees. Stand still near one and you might even see a metallic green sweat bee!

If you have time today, you might want to slow down and watch a box turtle eat. The Bell Museum has other cool videos on the same page! Check it out if you have the time.

Bluebird Nest #44

Bluebird Nest #49

Bluebird Nest #36

Bluebird Nest #43

Bluebird Nest #44

Bluebird Nest #49

Bluebird Nest #36

Bluebird Nest #43

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

I walked the prairie yesterday evening and have an update on our nests! Please see photos above. The first set is from May 3rd, and the 2nd from May 14th! What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Nest 44 was full of birds, so I was unable to open and get a new photo. Do you remember how many eggs we started with? How many babies were born?

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

For Science today, stream a movie from the Science Museum of Minnesota!

OR

Join me here as we plant a pollinator garden!!!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Are you a maker? If you have been following posts here, you may have participated in Part One of MakerEd's activities related to shapes in nature! Did you have time to design a shelter to keep your stuffed animal safe and cozy using newspaper dowels? If you did, and even if you didn't, you might want to check out Part 2!!

On May 13th, you can continue using newspaper dowels to explore strength and stability while building structures!!

Join the fun here!!! There is even a project guide if you need the directions! I do hope you are making something during this time. Creative activities can be great de-stressors!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Are you a bird watcher too?

This Saturday is World Migratory Bird Day. This is a big day for our Third Grade Ornithologists, but is truly something celebrated by people all over the world. The website link above will tell you all about it!

Celebrate by learning more about our find feathered friends using the Cornell Lab Bird Academy Videos!! For example, have you ever wondered how woodpeckers avoid brain injury? I hope to see you out on the birding trail - at a safe distance.

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Are you a bird watcher too?

This Saturday is World Migratory Bird Day. This is a big day for our Third Grade Ornithologists, but is truly something celebrated by people all over the world. The website link above will tell you all about it!

If you are looking for something to do or make to honor this world-wide day of celebration, you might get out to look for and count birds! You might also want to try building a bird nest. The arboretum shared a great nest-building post here: MN Arboretum. I like the idea of using the nest you build to fuel your imagination. It might even inspire you to create and write a story or play!

The New York Times even has an article on some nests people engineered and built to use as tree houses!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Cherry

Lilac

Apple

Birch

Bluebird Nest #44

Bluebird Nest #49

Bluebird Nest #36

Bluebird Nest #43

May 6, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Here are our buds all opened up! These are officially our last bud photos. I also added bluebird nest photos. These 4 nest photos were taken at Crow Hassan on Sunday, and I will keep you posted as the eggs hatch. So far, how many eggs total are there? How many baby bluebirds might hatch?

I only have chickadees in my bluebird nest boxes at home, but will also try to share photos of those as they nest, grow, and develop!

Are you a bird watcher too?

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

May 5, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

The teachers had two full days of professional development! Did you know that teachers still had to go to school? Over the weekend, all of our buds opened. I hope to get some photos today and will share bluebird photos tomorrow too.

Today, I wanted to share a Maker activity with you. I know you love to make things!!

Join the fun at MakerEd as they explore shapes in nature! Do you know the shapes that animals use to build shelters? Where do they build their shelters? If you have the time, you can design a shelter to keep your stuffed animal safe and cozy using newspaper! Have fun creating and innovating with this engineering design challenge. Build, test, and try it again!

For this project, you will need some paper, tape, and your own toy or animal! Directions are at MakerEd and you can even download directions!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 30, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

I was outside this morning taking photos of our buds. I started taking photos of buds during the week we were sent home due to the Coronavirus, and I realized today, that I might be done taking these photos soon because our buds are opening up. It has been a daily ritual for me, and I hope, you, and it got me thinking about Science.

A lot of science can be repetitive and that repetition is key. (Some people might say boring, but I know you never would!!!)

It is human nature to recognize patterns and the repetition of observation often makes the pattern evident. Somehow, repetition helps our brain solve puzzles. Much of what we know about climate change is the result of noticing changes in phenology, like bud break, over time. Some MN scientist friends have been making these daily observations for 30+ years. Through these records we can she that some trees and plants are budding sooner than in the past. When we pair that information with bee emergence, and/or plant survival rates, we can see the effect of these changes in our biome and estimate/predict how they will impact our habitat over time. Will certain kinds of trees in MN live our die if our climate gets warmer?

As a result of all of these observations, there are guides being printed to help us all adapt to our changing climate and scientists are studying many things like:

• Temperature increases • Precipitation changes • Length of growing season • Soil moisture and drought stress • Frozen ground duration • Wildfire • Invasive species • Forest pests and diseases

It is exciting to me to think that someone's curiosity got them interested in writing simple observations down - the date I saw the first robin this year or - the date I noticed the first lilac bloom this year and simply by noticing the changing timeframe of these events, they began to wonder why. As a result of wondering, asking questions, and making connections, they started to see a pattern and share observations with others.

My WVR friends! This could be you someday! This is exactly what we do in every investigation! Don't be afraid to notice and wonder about all that you see around you! Your keen observations might lead to great things!

The rituals and repetition of observation keep us grounded in times like these (the pandemic) and also show us the rhythm of our universe. Prior to "clock" time, humans used seasonal shifts to mark time and even named full moons to reflect the stage of the cycle of life. The full moon in August, for example, is know as the Sturgeon Moon, or Green Corn Moon. Can you hypothesize why?

If we pay attention to, and are connected to the world around us, we can impact it, but also use what we know to help others. The scientists studying the Coronavirus are using all of their observations and pattern recognition right now to figure out how this virus works. The doctors and health care workers are also making repetitive observations and notes so that they can see patterns emerge and help us all to stay safe.

That could be you someday . . .

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 29, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

It rained all day yesterday!!! How did you make the most of a rainy day? Today I have a new choice for you? Have you ever visited Mystery Science? If you are wanting a little science, that is a great place to visit. The Smithsonian Museum also has some fun things to explore! For this game you need to use your engineering smarts to build a tower.

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Cherry

Maple

Lilac

Apple

April 28, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Things are changing quickly outdoors. With all this sunshine and warmth, the trees and plants are responding. Lots of ground cover has blooms, and the tree buds we have been watching for weeks have changed greatly! As you can see in the photos, our bud scales that cover the buds have broken and the inside parts are showing. I am noticing green and a few other colors - what do you see? Have you time to sketch the changes today, or are you too busy enjoying this nice weather? If you have time, please check out a bud in your area and see if any insects are buzzing around.

What do you think will happen to our buds next? After the flowers, what will we see?

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Chickadee

Nest is just being started!

Bluebird

Nest box #36

Bluebird

Nest box #49

April 27, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Welcome to the Science Spot!!!

If you have been checking in here since distance learning, you know a little bit about bluebirds, and I have some more news to share. I walked the prairie this weekend and discovered 2 bluebird nests!!! As you may recall, I showed you how I installed two nest boxes in my own backyard and we now have two pairs of chickadees building nests. I also have a photo of the start of the chickadee nest. I hope you enjoy looking at how the bluebird and chickadee nests are both the same and different.

In a way, we are all nesting right now due to the Coronavirus, so I wonder how your "nest" compares to these birds? They have been nesting for years! I wonder if you could weave yourself a home using just a beak.

While the chickadees have chosen to nest in the bird boxes I installed, I also have robins and finches nesting in the trees in my yard. They are not cavity nesters like the chickadees and have chosen either evergreen trees or maple trees.

Our buds are also opening up, so there is a lot going on in nature. I even discovered 4 kinds of bees buzzing around the dandelions, pachysandra, and violets in my lawn. I am grateful for a few weeds in my lawn so that they have something to eat!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 24, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

If you haven't already, please take a minute to check out the Wednesday Wonder page today! I finally had enough bandwidth to upload our bee videos and they are all the Buzz!!! I also want to alert you to the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer publication. This edition includes stories about Cave Exploration and Minnesota Forests.

If you are a fan of nature, this is the magazine for you. You can read it online, or have it delivered to your home by making a donation to their efforts.

If you have been following our buds, things are getting truly exciting. Our buds are bursting. I have some new photos for you today, and imagine by Monday we will see actual LEAVES!!! How exciting!!!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Cherry

Lilac

Apple

Birch

April 23, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Have you ever wondered about Native bees in Scotland? An Orange-tailed mining bee is an actual bee name! Check out the Wednesday Wonder page today! I finally had enough bandwidth to get them uploaded. They are very exciting!!!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Cherry

Lilac

Apple

Birch

April 22, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Today is Earth Day!!! Here are some ideas for what you might do to celebrate this day! Our buds are starting to break which means Spring is on its way!!! I hope you have the chance to get outside and enjoy the weather today.

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 21, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Did you know Weaver has a bee hive at Eastman Nature Center? This year our bees arrived in a Bee Bus! Here is a video for how to install the bee bus! Do you think you might be a bee keeper some day? Our beekeepers also sent more videos of the bees leaving the bus and entering the hive, but I have yet to figure out how to share those with you. I will try tomorrow!

Meanwhile, the lilac we are watching has reached bud burst phase. This is when a bud changes from closed to open in the spring. Buds form in the fall and have protective scales covering them. Bud Burst in the spring is when they open up and begin to unfold! Have you noticed any buds "bursting" in your area?

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 20, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

I hope you got to get outside this weekend and note some signs of spring! It might be warm enough to head outside today and do some sketching!!! I am going to take more pictures for you this afternoon! Today I have posted some photos from the bluebird house trail that I walk at Crow Hassan. I had permission to walk the prairie this weekend, and the park was packed with people. I have never seen so many cars in the parking lot!! However, on my walk, I only saw 4 people and 7 dogs on my trail. I guess everyone was using a different part of the park, not the bluebird trail that I walk.

Science is not always what you expect, and this past Saturday was no different. I check the same bird houses each week and since I had been away for almost a month due to the Coronavirus, I anticipated seeing lots of nests. Of course, I also wanted to take photos for you, so was hoping to find some eggs in the nests. The houses I monitor are numbered 36 - 51 and on a good day, it is about an hour and a half walk to cover the whole trail. In all the houses that I check, I found 3 grass nests that had been started. None of the nests had eggs. Both swallows and bluebirds start with grass nests, so I will have to check next week to see if any feathers have been added to the nest. If there are feathers in the nest, then it is most likely a swallow nest and not bluebirds.

Since I didn't get any great photos, I posted some of last years photos for you to look at and observe. I think I will leave them unlabeled and you can use your powers of observation to decide whether the baby birds in the photos are swallows or bluebirds. Tomorrow we'll check our buds and seeds and next week - more birds!!!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Cherry

Lilac

Apple

Birch

April 17, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

As our weather warms up, we are starting to see some changes with our lilac buds. They are beginning to open up. In my neighborhood, some Maple trees have new leaves! Hopefully you are seeing signs of spring where you are! I have permission to walk the prairie this weekend, so I hope to have some photos of baby birds for you soon!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 16, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

During our distance learning, we have spent some time on this spot considering plant growth, bud burst, bees, and sketching. While I wish I could be at each of your homes doing some kind of STEM challenge, I thought today, I might share a few resources I have learned about that might be of interest to you while you are learning at home. I always hope you are outside observing and noticing, but while you are inside, these are great sites for STEM learning.

One is for older kids: National Geographic Explorer Classroom. Each day at 1:00 p.m. you might want to spend a half hour of your time participating in an online class with National Geographic! Yesterday they did a class on Tamarins and today is about Climate Change and Erosion. If you choose to participate, you can ask you questions directly to the scientists presenting and you might even show up on screen!

Another place with lots of good fun learning for all Weaver Lake Scientists and Engineers is PBS SoCAl At Home Learning. They have some great videos and activities broken out by grade level. Some are K-3 and some are for grades 4 - 8.

Yesterday one of the lessons was, "What's a Reptile?" There was also a video about Seven Dancing Chickens that made me curious. I watched one called STEM in 30 produced by the Smithsonian that showed where the Wright Brothers built their plane! They explained why it took them so long, and also why they worked on the plane in the fall and winter.

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

April 15, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

What do you know about bees? If you are a Weaver Lake Fifth Grader, you know a lot!!! Thanks to 2 dedicated members of the Weaver Lake Elementary School Community, Myla Meier and Diane Janowak, Weaver has new bees in the school's hive at Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Honey bees aren't the only kind of bees that are busy in the spring. Did you know that there are 20,000 known species of bees? Most bees are native bees, and they come in all sizes and colors. In Minnesota, we have about 400 different species. The visual to the right, from the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, gives you an idea of the diversity in our state.

If you have the chance this spring, you can look for some of them! Minnesota Conservation Volunteer has some information about native bees here. The University of Minnesota Bee Lab has some great photos of native bees here and information on how to help our bee populations survive! Maybe during our distance learning you might want to build a bee house using the University of Minnesota directions!!!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

cfans_asset_488210.pdf
Bees 2020...arrival
gkw-yivd-vsh (2020-04-13 at 09:03 GMT-7)

Impatiens

gkw-yivd-vsh (2020-04-13 at 09:07 GMT-7)

Tomatoes

April 14, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

Today I have some videos of our seeds. The ones we started indoors have been growing, so even with the recent snow, we still have something to watch and observe. I hope you have a minute to watch a video or two! Maybe you can predict when the tomatoes will start to grow!

In other exciting news, thanks to Myla Meier and Diane Janowak, Weaver has new bees in the school hive at Elm Creek Park Reserve.

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Bees 2020...arrival

Cherry

Lilac

Apple

Birch

April 13, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

I hope you had a nice Spring Break! It was my hope that we could all be doing observations outside today, but as you know, it snowed yesterday. As the photos I took on Saturday, April 11th show above, our branches are close to blooming, but I wonder how the snow has impacted them. We have had snow like this on April 12 or 13th for the past 3 years now, so my prediction is that they will all be fine. We'll have to keep watching to see. If you haven't started yet, but would like to keep track of spring's progress in your yard, here is a sheet to use to keep track of the signs of spring you notice!

Our indoor seeds are doing well and I'll share more about those tomorrow.

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!

Ms. Juetten

Click on the Eastern Bluebird for a lesson on how to draw birds from John Muir Laws

© John Muir Laws 2017

gkw-yivd-vsh (2020-04-01 at 10:51 GMT-7)

Installing bluebird house.

gkw-yivd-vsh (2020-04-01 at 11:08 GMT-7)

Check out the installed bluebird house!

April 3, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

I hope you had a nice time creating a nature sketch yesterday!! I heard a request for how to make lava at home and posted some information and links on the Wednesday Wonder page of this website. Please look for the response to Amelia's question there.

Yesterday, I made a video of installing a bluebird house. Last year, I spent a lot of time in the prairie monitoring bluebird houses in the prairie at Crow Hassan. Just like Monarchs and bees, bluebirds have declined in numbers. Due to habitat loss and nesting competition, they are having trouble surviving so I added some cavity nesting options in my yard. Because a lot of people have worked on placement of bluebird houses, Minnesota now has one of the most successful bluebird recovery projects in the nation.

What this means, is that if I find some bluebirds in houses this spring, I will share some photos with you. If I can't get out to the prairie due to the stay at home order, I'll share some photos from last year, like the one attached to this post.

Here is a sheet to use to keep track of the signs of spring you notice!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Bluebird eggs in the nest - June 2019

Click on the Eastern Bluebird for a lesson on how to draw birds from John Muir Laws

© John Muir Laws 2017

For your enjoyment:

Longwood Gardens Spring Tour

April 2, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake!

As I think about you today, I am aware that there is rain in the forecast and maybe even thunderstorms. We may have to stay inside all day today, and I thought it might be a good idea to try some observational sketching. If you have attended 2nd grade or higher at Weaver, you know your best sketching grip, but you may not have a sketching pencil at home. Please know that any pencil or crayon or writing tool will do. The important thing is to slow down and try to focus your brain. Sketching is a lot like heart breathing and can help slow us down and tune out all of the world's background noise.

You might remember that I never had art lessons in school, and so I am learning to sketch with you, but I do like nature and that helps me stay connected. I tried to put lots of photos of nature on this site, so hopefully, if you can't find something in nature, you have something to look at while you sketch. If you want to, you can just choose something like a sock or a toothbrush at home to sketch too.

The act of sketching helps us to see all of the tiny details because we are looking so closely. Because I am just learning, I have to remind myself that I am not trying to make a pretty picture (I can be so hard on myself!), but to accurately observe and record data. Please remember to be kind to yourself and say things like, "I am still learning." "I will be patient." "I will keep trying." The ability to draw is not a gift. It can be learned, and both you and I will get better with practice.

Thanks for trying it out with me!

Step 1: Get close to an individual object.

Step 2: Take a minute to look at it carefully? What do you notice? Wonder?

Step 3: Try to draw everything natural size.

Step 4: Label it if you know what it is, and estimate its size.

Some things to think about and maybe write about:

  • How did it get there?
  • Where does it go in the winter?
  • Where else can it be found?

Sketching can be a great way to learn about where you live.

If you have some technology at home, there are some good tree sketching directions by Clare Walker Leslie with lessons on how to draw leaves, and there are good directions online at the California Native Plant Society for how to draw flowers and plants.

The weather is going to warm up later this week and I hope you are thinking about taking some time to sit outside and sketch a sign of spring. Before you know it, there will be green leaves everywhere!

Here is a sheet to use to keep track of the signs of spring you notice!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Creative Thinking for today:

What if you woke up one day with your head on backwards? How would you walk? Could you see where you were going? How would you brush your teeth? Describe how you would get through your day.

Sign of spring!!! Do you know what plant this is?

Milkweed Pod and seeds. How do these seeds travel?

Cherry Tree

Lilac Shrub

Honeycrisp Apple Tree

River Birch Tree

April 1, 2020

Good Morning, Weaver Lake! I took photos for you again today and realized that science can be a bit tedious. Tedious means we spend a lot of time doing the same things with little change. It can be a bit like a "Where's Waldo" picture. Can you find what is different in our photos today? Because it might seem, as some kids might say, boring, I posted some additional signs of spring I found in the front garden today. If you know me at all, you know I am a fan of pollinators and I was excited to see milkweed seeds blowing in the wind this morning. Milkweed is an important plant to many pollinators but especially to Monarchs!

With all the concern about Covid-19, it can be comforting to have a routine and I like checking in with the gardens each morning and thinking about you and what you might be doing. While I check our branches, it is nice to remember that there are cycles to life.

The weather is going to warm up later this week and I hope you are thinking about taking some time to sit outside and sketch a sign of spring. Before you know it, there will be green leaves everywhere!

Here is a sheet to use to keep track of the signs of spring you notice!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Creative Thinking for today:

Design a new type of game you could play with your friends. It could be an outdoor game, a board game, or a computer game. Describe your game and how it would be played.

Sign of spring!!! Do you know what plant this is?

Milkweed Pod and seeds. How do these seeds travel?

Cherry Tree

Lilac Shrub

Apple Tree & Hutch

March 31, 2020

Hi! Yesterday was our official first day of distance learning. I miss seeing you in person, but look forward to connecting here and during office hours. I got to go into the school yesterday to help get student work on busses and I also got to see a few of my students 6 ft away. I hope you are taking good care and staying curious! Joshua shared an interest in coyotes and I posted some information on coyotes including a cool video of scientists tracking coyotes in Chicago on the Wednesday Wonder Page of this site.

Yesterday, I posted three videos about seed starting.

  • folding a paper seed starting pot
  • getting the soil ready
  • planting seeds

Today, I took a look at the seeds we have planted and there isn't a whole lot going on, so I didn't take photos of our seeds, but I did take photos of our tree and shrub buds today and their photos are to the left of this post. I wonder if you notice any changes.

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Creative Thinking for today:

Pretend that you are invisible for one day. Describe your day. Would being invisible be fun, or would it cause problems?

River Birch Tree

gkw-yivd-vsh (2020-03-27 at 07:02 GMT-7)

Folding a paper seed starting pot

gkw-yivd-vsh (2020-03-27 at 07:08 GMT-7)

Getting the soil ready

xqo-yhec-ooy (2020-03-27 at 07:39 GMT-7)

Planting tomato seeds

March 30, 2020

I learned about a new video option, so I had to try it out.

It is great to be a lifelong learner, so I keep trying and persisting, and I am sure you are also learning lots of things during your learning time at home as you keep trying and persisting.

My normal office hours are 8:30 - 9:30 in the morning and 1:30 - 2:30 in the afternoon. I tried to schedule around the classroom teachers, but it means I may be interrupted some days due to meetings.

Today, because I can't start my office hours on the 30th due to meetings, I am sharing a few videos for how to start seeds indoors.

There are three sections posted today:

  • folding a paper seed starting pot
  • getting the soil ready
  • planting seeds

Apologies in advance for the coughing fit during planting. We soldier on . . .

If you have any of your own seed growing stories to share, please share them with me using this Google Form!

Joshua in Ms. Strommen's class used the form to tell me that he wants to learn more about coyotes!!

What do you want to learn about? If you have something to ask me, or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Creative Thinking for today:

What if rain sprayed up from the ground instead of falling from the sky? Invent something that might keep you dry. Describe your invention, then draw it.

Cherry

Lilac

Apple

Birch

March 27, 2020

Good Morning! I need to let you know that due to meetings on Monday, my office hours are cancelled for March 30th, but I will be online for office hours on Tuesday!

I look forward to seeing your smiling face!!

Today is day 3 of our Angiosperm observations and today's pictures are above.

What do you notice? Which one will you sketch today?

I am not noticing any changes yet, but I have hope!

If you have been following our seed planting investigation, I do see some changes for our Impatiens seeds!!! I'll post about that next week and hope to have a video of vegetable seed planting for you too. Take good care, and have a lovely weekend.

If you have something to ask me or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

If you would like to watch for signs of spring, here is a resource from John Latimer and KAXE radio that spells out things to watch for in March, April, and May. If you do choose to do this, please send your data to my school email and I will report our info to KAXE.

Ms. Juetten

Data from ongoing experiments:

Impatiens seed growth update - There is a little growth! LED Grow Lights are on for at least 12 hours daily, soil is moist and temperature is 67 - 69 degrees indoors. Seed packet says it may take 7 - 14 days. We planted our seeds on March 17th. Did you predict that we would see growth today?

Honey Locust Video with adjusted volume.mp4

March 26, 2020

Good Morning! I hope I get to see your face at school today even if it is through a closed car window!

We are watching angiosperms!! Today is day 2.

I took a new photo of each of our branches from yesterday, and you can see them above. What do you notice? Are there changes from our photos yesterday? (below) Which one will you sketch today?

Did you find a branch to watch in your own yard?

In other news, I found something cool on my walk that I wanted to show you. My video skills aren't the greatest, but I hope you do find it interesting. - It is posted to the left of this text box.

If you have something to ask me or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!!!

Ms. Juetten

Data from ongoing experiments:

Impatiens seed growth update - still no growth. LED Grow Lights are on for at least 12 hours daily, soil is moist and temperature is 67 - 69 degrees indoors. Seed packet says it may take 7 - 14 days. We planted our seeds on March 17th. What is your prediction for when we might see the first bit of growth?

Cherry Tree

Lilac Shrub

Honeycrisp Apple Tree & my dog Hutch

River Birch Tree

March 25, 2020

Good Morning! I have been thinking about you!

Have you ever heard the word angiosperm? Like a lot of things in science, asking a question like that can lead to a lot of learning. For example, the definition of angiosperm is: a plant that has flowers and produces seeds enclosed within a carpel.

Now I need to know what a carpel is . . . and maybe you do too!

Basically, a carpel is the part of the flower where the seeds grow. Enchanted Learning has a nice diagram of flower parts here.

For our next set of lessons in our Corona Academy of science, I thought it might be nice to study some angiosperms, or flowering plants. Because it is spring in Minnesota, a lot is happening for angiosperms in the natural world. Today, I am going to go outside and find a few branches or stems with buds on them and choose one or two to observe. Sometimes I put a piece of tape on the branch or stem so I can remember the one I chose. You might like to mark one or two in your yard too if you can.

Once you have chosen your branch(es) or stem(s), draw a sketch of what you see in a notebook or on a scrap of paper if you don't have a notebook handy. We'll check our branches every day, sketch, and write notes about any changes we see. Maybe we will even catch spring in action!!!

Major groups of angiosperms include Cactus, Grass, Trees, and Shrubs, so you could choose from any of those categories. It turns out there are cactus plants native to Minnesota called Prickly Pear or (Opuntia). If you have one of those, I would love to see what it does in the spring!

I am not sure a house plant can tell if it is spring, but we didn't choose to be at home, so please use whatever you have. If you don't have a plant handy or close by, don't worry. I'll post some pictures here for us to use and sketch from just in case!

Stay safe and be curious!!!

Ms. Juetten

Data from ongoing experiments:

Impatiens seed growth update - still no growth. LED Grow Lights are on for at least 12 hours daily, soil is moist and temperature is 67 - 69 degrees indoors. Seed packet says it may take 7 - 14 days. We planted our seeds on March 17th. What is your prediction for when we might see the first bit of growth?


March 24, 2020 Maple Syruping

Good Morning, Weaver Lake Scientists and Engineers!!!

As we continue our Corona Academy, I need to let you know that on Saturday, I finished cooking down our Maple Tree sap. If you read the first posts which are still below, you know that we got all our sap from Silver Maple trees. We did not get any sap from the Sugar Maple tree. From two big buckets of sap, I was able to make 3 small jars of syrup which is nice, because I needed to share with the two neighbors who let me tap their trees for you. Cooking took a long time, and our cooking temperature got up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit!!

I haven't tasted it yet, because I would love to share it with you, so maybe I will have a waffle breakfast during one of our online sessions soon so that you can see how thick the syrup is and see my honest reaction to the first taste.

Tomorrow, we'll get the seed growth update!!

Stay safe and be curious!!!

Ms. Juetten

The sap has changed color a bit after being cooked outside for many hours on the grill.

Remember, it started out clear and tasted like water.

What do you notice about the color now?

From the grill, we started our indoor cooking with two full saucepans and are now down to just this much in one pan.

The final product!!!

Do you remember how much we had to start?? All that cooking turned two big buckets of sap into three little jars of syrup!

March 23, 2020 Serendipity

Hi! I am sorry to be a little later with this post today. I find I am thinking of the word serendipity today. It is kind of a big word, so here is what it means according to the Oxford Dictionary:

ser·en·dip·i·ty| ˌserənˈdipədē | noun the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: a fortunate stroke of serendipity | a series of small serendipities.

I am thinking of this word, because I had a serendipity happen to me! Yesterday, I took a walk in the prairie and I noticed a frozen puddle. Luckily, I took a photo of it so you can see it below.

I wonder if you notice the same thing I did about the pattern in the frozen puddle . . .

Now today, I thought about offering you something you might like to do and found this website! It has the idea that you and I should go outside and look for patterns and one of the ideas is to find a frozen puddle!! That is serendipity!! How great is it that I already found a frozen puddle!!! And, I can share it with you!!!

Now, I don't know if you can go outside, and even if you can, you might not find a great frozen puddle right outside your door, so maybe go to the website at the link above and read about winter birds instead? In any case, if you do find a cool pattern, maybe you can show me the next time we see each other, because I am a HUGE fan of cool patterns in nature.

(P.S.) I took a picture of this puddle because I thought the pattern looked like a pattern you would normally find in a piece of sawn wood and I wondered why a puddle and a tree might have the same patterns. I am still wondering, and now, maybe, so are you!!

March 20, 2020 Maple Syruping

Good Morning, Weaver Lake Scientists and Engineers!!!

As we continue our Corona Academy, today I started cooking down our Maple Tree sap. The real reason I am starting to cook today is that we are out of buckets. If I don't cook some sap down, we won't have a bucket for sap collection this afternoon. Please keep your fingers crossed that it cooks fast enough. When it cooks, the steam coming off the sap can be really icky, so I don't want to cook it in my kitchen. I am not a big fan of cleaning my ceiling, so I turned on my grill this morning around 7:00 so it could warm up and got the sap on there as fast as I could to get it started cooking. I have the timer on my stove set so I don't forget to check it every 30 minutes so it doesn't burn. My dog, Hutch is enjoying helping since every time we go outside she gets to run around.

I hope you also have some fun project going on at home. As you smart Weaver Lakers probably know, the sap is running in the Maple Trees because spring is almost here. What is the first things trees do when they know it is spring?

Thursday, March 19 at 11:50 p.m. was actually the vernal equinox! Do you know what that means? The Farmer's Almanac has a good explanation here. I was surprised to learn that this is the earliest first day of spring in 124 years. It is due to leap years, the actual length of the year, and how we humans manage our calendar. You might need a grown up to read about it and explain, but it is pretty interesting, so maybe you can talk them into it.

I have been learning a bit about videos and posting videos so the links I have today are embedded Vimeo links. This should work better for your viewing pleasure, but they are still taking a long time to load. That just means I am posting today's videos here and yesterday's are still loading . . . Sorry they are out of order. As you know, learning is a process.

The videos for this morning are in order right below this post.

Stay safe and be curious!!!

Ms. Juetten

Below are the video clips from sap collection yesterday. Vimeo is definitely helping.

March 20, 2020 Seeds

Hi! There are still no signs of growth, but I do have a photo of our data and a quick video peek at our seeds. Do you ever think about how seeds get started outside? Can they count on a consistent temperature? If they don't have someone watering them, how do they get the moisture they need? I bet they have some adaptation strategies. I know some plants in the desert know how to store water - Arizona Desert Museum - but what about plants in Minnesota - they must have their own strategies.

I looked for information on MN plants that store water, but all I can find is information on growing these indoors.

If you find a native MN plant that stores water - please email me - juettenk@district279.org. Happy hunting!!

March 19, 2020 Timer

Hi! I decided to put the lights on a timer, but there is a bit of delay. Here is the unboxing of the timer video. Enjoy!

March 19, 2020 Maple Syruping

Yesterday I started calling these posts Corona Academy, and today I decided to create my own imaginary Corona Village. Thus, we now have a Corona Arboretum!!! Really, that is just my neighborhood, but I do like the idea of imagining it as my own Arboretum, though.

As I walked my dog yesterday, I counted, and there are at least 20 Sugar Maple trees on the streets I normally walk my dog, so maybe next year we can go into serious Maple Syrup production?

For that, I would need the help of all my Weaver Scientists and Engineers.

This year for you, during our Corona Academy, I was able to set up three taps. Thanks to the kindness of neighbors, I was able to go into their yards and put taps in the trees. We now have 1 Sugar Maple and 2 Silver Maple trees to monitor and observe. I did notice that sap was flowing in the Silver Maples as soon as I drilled the holes for the taps, but not for the Sugar Maple. Why might that be? I wonder . . . .

The first drill I had did not work so well, so I had to borrow another from my friend, Cory. He is a firefighter and was very willing to help. His daughter is a second grader and was very interested to watch the tapping.

Here is a not so great video of me setting things up, and there are some photos below. Yesterday, I made the videos with my Android phone, and some of them were too long to upload, so this is the best I can do for yesterday. From now on, I will use my iPad since it can talk to my Mac a little easier - lesson learned!!

Today it is raining, so I don't know if I will be able to check for sap amounts, but if I can, I will, and will post our data here tomorrow. Stay safe and be curious!!!

Ms. Juetten

Supplies

Sap bucket, hammer, tape, drill, tubing, spile, and bucket lid

Sugar Maple Bark

How is this different than bark on a a Silver Maple tree?

March 19, 2020 Seed Update

This morning I have a few photos to share with you of our seed starting progress. Not much is happening above the soil yet, but I will continue to monitor daily. If you want to share your science projects with me, my email is juettenk@district279.org. Please don't hesitate to let me know what you are up to!!

Impatiens

No growth noted this morning. I am keeping the LED Grow lights on for about 12 hours a day! The purple light is different and people can see it through my windows when they walk down the street. What would you think if you saw someone with purple house lights?

Data Sheet

Each day I am writing in my data table in my notebook!!! I did turn up the temperature in my house 2 degrees in hopes it helps the plants to grow.

A Little Magic in the World Might be Nice

03/18/2020

Like most teachers starting their own home-based Corona Academy as schools are closed for the pandemic, I spent many hours yesterday evening searching for distance learning resources. I was at home planting seeds and it made me think of the story Jack in the Beanstalk. If I had some magic beans, those would be pretty cool to observe over the next few weeks !!!

I did start wondering what magic powers I would like my beans to have. Do you have an idea of what kind of magic you would give your own magic bean seeds? I wouldn't be surprised if right now you were thinking of a vaccine for COVID - 19. What else could magic seeds do???

Below are some photos of the grow light installation. I can't wait to see what the results are in 7 or more days!!!

LED Grow Light

These lights are supposed to provide full-spectrum light like the sun

LED Grow Light

They are 4 ft. long!!!

LED Grow Light

Here is what it looks like turned on. I was surprised by the color. Does this look like the sun to you?

Seeds!!!

Hello! If you haven't been here before, Welcome! In an effort to support learning at home, I plan to post a few videos here for all the Weaver Lake Scientists and Engineers to enjoy while we are home keeping Minnesota safe from COVID-19. We'll watch some seeds grow, collect some Maple Syrup, and maybe learn a little spring phenology too. I made the first seed starting video tonight and here is the link

I couldn't get it to upload, so if the link doesn't work, please let me know. Maybe I need to learn to make my videos a little shorter or get a bigger router . . . Take good care!!

Nature Benefits

According to the Cleveland Clinic “What has been shown, is kids who are able to spend more time outdoors and connect with nature, tend to be happier and better behaved,” said Kate Eshleman, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. Researchers also found, not only did the children who were more connected to nature have better moods and behavior, but they also showed less stress, and had better social skills.

I have always been drawn to the outdoors. That might be a direct result of being raised in Texas, but I am not sure. Humans have an innate connection to the outdoors, and research shows time outdoors has links to mental health. Yesterday after work, I just knew I needed time to re-connect, so I took a trip to the prairie to check bluebird houses and returned with a bit of hope -

Weaver Lake 2016.mp4

One nest even had bluebird eggs!!

Birding

And this is why at WVR, we take kids outside, to experience the joyful discovery that one can only find in nature.

Kindergarten and third grade enjoyed the chance to look for birds. On their adventure, they saw yellow-rumped warblers, chickadees, swans, geese, ducks, robins, a goldfinch, turkey vultures, and a broad-winged hawk.

Maple Syruping at Weaver!!!

Our Maple Syruping supplies have arrived, thanks to a grant from the District 279 Foundation. The second graders study trees all year. They identify Maple trees, sketch them, observe them and now, thanks to the grant, we will collect Maple Sap!!!! Here's hoping temperatures cooperate . .

https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly

Critically Low Monarch Population in California

If you are a lover of Monarchs, as many Weaver Lake Community members are, you might be interested to know that their population in California is dropping.

There is a new report about California Monarch populations from the Xerces Society. According to the Xerces Society, "We currently have preliminary count results from 97 sites, which includes many of the most important overwintering sites. In 2017, these sites accounted for 77% of the total monarch overwintering population, hosting approximately 148,000 monarchs. In 2018, the same sites have only 20,456 monarchs. This represents an 86% decline since last year. "

Scientists are not expecting more butterflies to appear as Monarch counts have been low all summer. To make things worse, in terms of numbers, "Over the past two years, we have seen that New Year’s counts in early January are 40–50% lower than Thanksgiving counts in November. " Based on this, we can expect numbers to drop over the winter.

The article also explains, "If the rest of the Thanksgiving Count data show the same trend as the preliminary data, we anticipate seeing less than 30,000 butterflies overwintering in California this winter. In comparison, there were more than 192,000 butterflies counted in 2017, more than 1 million were estimated in 1997, and Schultz et al. (2017) suggest that there were at least 4.5 million monarchs overwintering in California in the 1980s. While a true minimum population size is unknown until we see a migration collapse, 30,000 butterflies is the average quasi-extinction population size (the number of adult butterflies needed to ensure persistence of the western monarch population) explored in a population viability analysis based on expert opinion of a viable western migratory population size (Schultz et al. 2017). "

If you want to help Monarchs and pollinators, what can you do?

  • Look for milkweed, monarchs, and especially monarch caterpillars, and report them on MLMP.
  • Plant nectar resources which bloom throughout the season—especially species which bloom during spring and fall migration. Check out Xerces’ monarch native nectar plant guides for plant guidance.
  • Plant native milkweed species.
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide use, particularly insecticide use.
  • Support agricultural producers who minimize pesticide use and provide wildlife habitat.

Don't rear Monarchs in your home - here's why the recommendation is to Keep Monarch's Wild.

Please check out the full article for more information.

What are you processing today? Have you been following the recent Mars landing? I wonder if you noticed how different the control room looked from the control room used for the original Moon Landing. Were you ready to watch the rocket launch today, only to find it postponed? Apparently food for the mouse in one of the on-board experiments was moldy. We are in history making times!!! How will you influence the world? Are you interested in traveling to space? What is on the horizon for your generation? What experiment would you send into space?

Hi! I hope you were able to come to the STEM in Action Fair this year! Channel 12 news was able to come and featured our award winning STEM program on the news!! Check it out here: Weaver Lake Students Put Science into Action

Hi! Have you seen the book Innumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth by Michael Engel? This book dives into insect diversity, and does not require you to be an entomologist to read it! Did you know there are roughly 1 million know species of insects? We study bees in fifth grade at Weaver, but there are many other intriguing ways that insects interact with and influence human life. It might just be a great option for the insect enthusiast in your life!! The best thing about the book, though, are the images!!! They include multiple life stages of an insect, host plants, examples of camouflage and biological mimicry. I can't wait to get my copy so we can talk about it together. If you share a love of learning about insects, let's connect and discuss this book!!!

Thanks to the District 279 Foundation Grant program, the Bell Museum Exploradome will visit Weaver Lake Elementary today and tomorrow. Every third, fourth, and fifth grader will have a chance to enjoy a program about space! Thanks, District 279 Foundation for making this great learning possible!!!

Hello, Weaver! I saw an article this morning in the Star Tribune, and just had to post it! It made me think of all the work our fifth graders do to learn about native Minnesota bee species. Honeybees are not native to Minnesota and some wonder if they out compete our native bees. What do you think about our human impact on the planet? What are you doing to make a difference? I just had a good friend send me a package of stainless steel straws so that I can stop using single use plastic straws. It's not a big step, but I am happy to make even a small difference in our impact on the planet! I bet you have lots of good ideas for how to do that too! Do you carry a re-usable water bottle? What other simple changes can we make?

Third Graders met a Barred Owl Today!!!

If you already know about Barred Owls, you know how special they are! For many of us, they are best know because of their distinctive call: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”

My favorite adaptation by far are their lovely brown eyes. We have seen this bird a few times in our school nature center, and every time it stops me in my tracks.

To learn more about them, check out the link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to the left! Of course our third grade ornithologists are also a good resource. It's possible they also dissected an owl pellet recently . . .

At Weaver, we always love to learn more!!

Family Engineering Night

Will you be there?

Thursday, February 1st, 2018 - 5:30 - 7:30.

Students, please bring a grown-up with you!

The Great Backyard Bird Count

From February 16-19, Weaver Scientists and Engineers can be part of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)!

You don't just have to count birds in your backyard! You can count birds in the park, your school, or anywhere birds are found! The GBBC is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada.

If you choose to participate, all you need to do is:

  1. Count birds for at least 15 minutes. Count longer if you want to!
  2. Report your bird counts using the checklist on the GBBC website by clicking on "Submit Observations". You can also use the free eBird Moblie app to submit counts.

How great to be a part of Citizen Science!!!!

Deep Look Videos by PBS

Have you heard about the underwater tape of the Caddisfly! Our fourth graders study macroinvertebrates. They can tell you all about adaptations! This Deep Look video explains the underwater tape of the Caddisfly. Check it out here!

Today is the Winter Solstice! Have you heard about the Sun Stop that occurs this month?

By keeping track of sunrise and sunset times, we notice that days get shorter before the solstice and lengthen after the solstice. We also notice that length of day barely changes for about a week before or after the solstice.

The word solstice means just that, sun stop! The sun appears to stop moving, but what is really happening is this:

  • The sun begins to set later a couple of weeks before the winter solstice.
  • The sunrise doesn't begin to get earlier until two weeks after the solstice.

As the second graders explained to me today, "This is because the Earth's axis tilts!" They are right, but it is also because our planet enjoys a slightly elliptical orbit.

Imagine what we all know just from watching and noting sunrise and sunset times! it's pretty amazing when you think about it!

Did you know that bees are attracted to the color blue?

Scientists have discovered that some flowers create a blue halo to attract bees. They learned that bumble bees can see the halos! To learn more, check out this article!

If you have been wondering about gardening for pollinators, one thing to consider is providing plants that bloom throughout the entire growing season. As climate change impacts bloom times and temperature, there are increasing periods of time where pollinators lack a food source. In some cases, spring flowers complete their blooming period long before summer perennials have caught up, cutting off a supply of pollen and nectar early.

As the Xerces Society notes:

"On the other end, an unusually warm October and strong winds this fall have left many monarchs stranded in their northernmost range. Not only will these monarchs need late blooming sources of nectar to maintain their strength until they are able to fly south, they may not be able to find enough late-season food sources along their migration route to fuel their flight back to Mexico."

You might also be interested in this Insect Flight video!

Dragonflies and bees move their wings very differently in flight. Here we can see in slow motion the way the bee and dragonfly wings beat in a 90 degree different direction with the same result flight!

Smoky Winged Beetle Bandit Wasp

What do you know about wasps? Most people know they have the potential to sting, but did you know that they help control insect pests, pollinate plants, and provide food for other wildlife? Really, wasps are pretty tame unless captured or bothered. Fifth graders at Weaver study bees, and likely know that bees and wasps are related. While bees get protein by collecting pollen, wasps are predators. Because they are predators, they can protect crops and gardens by eating harmful pests. One particular wasp, the smoky winged beetle bandit wasp (Cerceris fumipennis) hunts the Emerald Ash Borer. Scientists are using this wasp to help protect ash trees in Minnesota!

You might want to check out the Wasp Watchers program to find out more about wasps!

Hello, Weaver! Tonight is our STEM in Action Fair! November 9, 2017! I look forward to seeing you between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to share your great work!

I also want to note that tomorrow, November 10th, is World Science Day for Peace and Development. How amazing to think that some day your science or engineering work will contribute to the peace and development of the world!

We are proud to announce that Weaver Lake Elementary has been named a 2017 Magnet School of Excellence by Magnet Schools of America (MSA), the National Association for Magnet and Theme-Based Schools.

Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology Magnet School provides a dynamic, inquiry-based learning environment for students in grades K-5. Weaver Lake’s program incorporates value-added, hands-on activities that focus on problem solving, analytical thinking skills, and are based on real life experiences. Our integrated project-based, thematic approach to teaching has increased academic growth in all areas. Community partnerships have enhanced student learning experiences. The young scientists, mathematicians, and technologists at Weaver Lake Elementary are a community of learners that continually Inquire, Discover, Explore, and Achieve—the big IDEA at Weaver Lake is to become lifelong learners.

“Magnet schools throughout the country are being awarded for their excellence in demonstrating student achievement, innovative and engaging instruction and curriculum, community engagement, professional development, and a commitment to diversity. This is a competitive process that awards only a small fraction of the magnet schools nationally. Schools that win our Merit Awards represent the best in education, innovation, equity and opportunity for all students in our nation.” says Magnet Schools of America Executive Director.

To receive a merit award MSA member schools must submit a detailed application that is scored by a panel of educators. There are two categories of merit awards: (1) Magnet Schools of Excellence, the top award given to a group of select magnet schools, and (2) Magnet Schools of Distinction, the second highest award of recognition.

To learn more about Magnet Schools of America’s merit awards program, please visit www.magnet.edu

Project Lead The Way is Here!

We are so excited to be starting Project Lead the Way at Weaver Lake! All grade levels are participating in PLTW engineering units. Fifth graders are exploring programming VEX IQ robots and kindergartners have new engineering opportunities tied to fairy tale stories. As we grow in our PLTW expertise, we look forward to adding more engineering opportunities throughout the curriculum.

Plant Milkweed!

I am sad to say that the current news about Monarchs is a bit dismal. There are frequent updates on their status at Journey North. Here at Weaver Lake, we are watching them closely. If you are wondering how you can help, please consider planting milkweed. Resources are available to make this easy. Currently there are about 20 milkweed species available as seed, though the availability varies based on location. Some nurseries also sell milkweed transplants or "plugs." If you are not sure where to find milkweed locally, check out this Milkweed Finder courtesy of the Xerces Society to locate a supplier near you.


Honey Locust Video with adjusted volume.mp4

March 26, 2020

Good Morning! I hope I get to see your face at school today even if it is through a closed car window!

We are watching angiosperms!! Today is day 2.

I took a new photo of each of our branches from yesterday, and you can see them above. What do you notice? Are there changes from our photos yesterday? (below) Which one will you sketch today?

Did you find a branch to watch in your own yard?

In other news, I found something cool on my walk that I wanted to show you. My video skills aren't the greatest, but I hope you do find it interesting. - It is posted to the left of this text box.

If you have something to ask me or an idea for a lesson on this site, please let me know using this Google Form!

Stay safe and be curious!!!

Ms. Juetten

Data from ongoing experiments:

Impatiens seed growth update - still no growth. LED Grow Lights are on for at least 12 hours daily, soil is moist and temperature is 67 - 69 degrees indoors. Seed packet says it may take 7 - 14 days. We planted our seeds on March 17th. What is your prediction for when we might see the first bit of growth?