Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Quest for Perfect Pondwater

At the start of every school year I introduce my students to the characteristics of living things (affectionately known as COERGRA...don't look it up, it's a mneumonic). In an effort to help them think about what distinguishes living things from non-living I offer the notorious "Pondwater Lab." It is not notorious to students, but rather my family...

You would think that after being a teacher for all these years I'd have my act together enough that the set-up for this lab would be automatic. It is an automatic disaster almost every year because I always want the "perfect sample." This year our quest took us to a few different venues and resulted in new family members becoming involved (thanks, Grampy, for venturing down that hillside!) and injury (sorry, Z, I think we got all the thorns out of your hand!) and good sportsmanship (wasn't that a blast, Grammy? You mean you didn't come to Maryland to go on an additional 150 mile car ride???).

End result, 2 unique samples: one from the C&O Canal in Hancock, MD, and the other from the pond on the 8th hole at Northwest Park Golf Course. I don't know what they do to the water at NWP but it is teaming with life...especially nematodes and rotifers. The students had a ball, as usual, using the microscopes and drawing pictures of the little buggers. It is worth the effort just to hear their oohhh's and aahhh's and "holy cow, Mrs. B., come check this out!" While sometimes they think they have discovered a new organism and it turns out to be an air bubble (which looks really cool at 100X!) most of the time they are able to find at least the eight required specimens.

Who knows where next year will lead us and who will be involved in this crazy adventure...avoid the rush and send your applications in now! I'm sure Steve, the kids, and now Grampy and Grammy, too, will be happy to surrender their spots on this roster!



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