Ok, so this weeks post is going to serve a couple of purposes, 1. Is to tell all you folks out there that there will be a new person posting the blog entries, so things may look a little different and bare with us if anything doesn’t work properly and 2. To tell you that this week our teachers have been spreading the knowledge all about nocturnal creatures. We do this every year at this time to tie in to the wonders of Halloween.
As you can imagine there is a treasure trove of learning to be delved into concerning nocturnal animals and their adaptations to life in the dark. We will be teaching all about the super senses that nature has equipped the night dwellers with such as improved sight and hearing, as well as a keen sense of touch. Finding out that lots of nocturnal animals come from very warm countries and they sleep, hidden away, during the hot daytime and come out at night to hunt and forage for food. Learning how some animals try to avoid certain predators by only being active in the dark and conversely how nature has also made quite a few specialized nocturnal predators as well.
The picture above is of one of our Green Tree Pythons (Morelia or Chondropython viridis) These snakes are almost entirely nocturnal and arboreal (lives in the trees). They are equipped with special pits along their lips that are heat sensitive. These act like infrared vision, allowing them to ‘see’ their prey by its body heat, they can detect changes in temperature of as little as a 100th of a degree. This is very handy when you are trying to catch a rat, bird or bat while hanging from a branch in the middle of the night.
So, Happy or Spooky Halloween to you all. Have a safe and fun time Trick or Treating.
Here are some more of Tree Frog Treks nocturnal creatures.
Another Green Tree Python (Morelia or Chondropython viridis)
This week students in our After School Programs will be learning all about raptors. They will learn about the relationship between predators and prey, to observe and identify raptors found in the Bay Area, and investigate some adaptations that make raptors so special.
A raptor is a carnivorous bird that feeds chiefly on meat taken by hunting or on carrion (carcass of a dead animal). Raptors hunt on the wing (while they are flying). The word raptor comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning to seize and sweep away. Raptors have keen senses and primarily use their vision to hunt while using their powerful talons to kill and carry their prey. Raptors are unique among birds because of their special survival tools (adaptations). Among these are their relatively large size, powerful flight, keen eyesight, hooked beaks, and long, curved claws, called talons.
The four most common species of diurnal raptors counted at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory are Red Tailed Hawks, Coopers Hawk, Sharp Shinned Hawks, and Turkey Vultures (in the 1000’s during fall migrations). Red shouldered hawks are also very common, especially in Golden Gate Park. So if you see a raptor on your trek, chances are it’s one of those five.
This spring students receiving our school programming will be learning all about survival in our curriculum titled “Survivor Frog.” Here is a brief description:
Have you ever wondered how to make fire without matches, purify water, and build your own shelter? Or what you would go if you were stranded on a desert island? If so, then join Survivor Frog! We will learn to recognize and prepare edible plants, track and stalk wild animals, ans make rope and baskets out of plants that grow in your neighborhood park. Each class will start with a team challenge that will prepare you to work together in difficult conditions. Become a Survivor Frog with the knowledgeable naturalists and amazing reptile and amphibian animal ambassadors from Tree Frog Treks, who won’t vote you off the island, but will instead help you gain survival skills, work as a team, and explore the nature all around us!
It’s not to late to inquire about having your school enroll with Tree Frog Treks for this term. If interested, please contact the office at 415-876-3764.
Science relies on empirical data. This is information gained through observation and experimentation. Scientists often use measurements to quantify this data. For instance a scientist may observe that an animal is growing quickly, however to lend more support to this observation we can measure how much the animal grows over a certain amount of time. It is very important for scientists to record these measurements and track how they change over time or under different conditions. They will also learn about some types of measurement such as mass and weight, length, volume, temperature, and time.
Largest Animal – Blue Whale. They can be up to 32 meters (105 ft) long and weigh up to 181,000 kg (200 tons). Blue Whales tongues can weigh as much as an elephant and their hearts can weigh as much as a car!
Largest Land Animal – African Elephant. They can be up to 4 meters tall (13ft) and weigh up to 6,350 kg (14,000 lbs)
Largest Reptile – Komodo Dragons(see image above). They can be up to 3 meters (10 ft) long and weigh up to 150 kg (330 lbs).
Largest Amphibian – Chinese Giant Salamander. They can be up to 2 meters long (6 ft) and weigh up to (110 lbs).
Tallest Human – The tallest person who ever lived was 8’ 11 (2.72 meters).
This week students receiving our school programming will learn all about electricity. The goal this week is to introduce students to the fundamentals of electricity, electric current, and circuits. Students should be able to also recognize the dependence our society has on electricity.
Remember when we talked about how everything is made of atoms? They are so tiny; you cannot see them unless you have a very powerful microscope. Each atom has one or more even tinier things called electrons that spin around its center. Sometimes, when we apply energy, electrons start to move or jump to other atoms. Electricity is made up of electrons moving in a specific direction. For the electricity to work, the electrons must move in a complete loop. When electricity flows through a loop, it is called an electric current, and the loop is called a circuit. Now for a fun experiment/art project:
Silk handkerchief or animal fur
Cut out a spiral from a circle of tissue paper with scissors.
Lay the tissue paper spiral on the metal plate.
Rub the plastic pen vigorously on the silk, so that it takes electrons from the silk, and becomes negatively charged. (An animal fur might work instead of a silk handkerchief).
Use the charged pen to draw the center (head of snake) of the spiral gently into the air.
This week, the students that have us in our schools with learn all about magnification. The goal of this week is to familiarize students with different scientific tools for magnification such as: magnifying lenses, binoculars, and microscopes. This should give students a different perspective on the world around them and the layers of life that exist. Here is a great project that the kids will learn in class that you could do at home: (please note that this will only work for fingerprints that are already visible)
DUSTING FOR PRINTS
Colored Paper (both light and dark colored paper)
Pencils or pens
Look around the classroom or home for surfaces with visible prints.
Put a little powder on the fingerprint. Use cornstarch on dark surfaces and cocoa powder on light surfaces.
Use a small brush to gently swipe off the excess powder and leave the print.
To lift the print, use clear tape sticky side down.
Stick the tape, with the print on it to an opposite colored piece of paper. (I.e. if you used the cocoa powder try white or light colored paper. If you used cornstarch try black or dark colored paper.
Lable your paper with where and when you found this print.
Examine the print. What kinds of patterns do you see?
This week students enrolled in our after school programs through their schools will learn all about atoms.
Everything in the universe is made out of atoms. They are the basic particles which make up all elements. Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons are in the center of the atom, making up the nucleus. They are very close together and the nucleus is very dense. Electrons spin around this nucleus like planets orbiting the sun. Protons have a positive charge, neutrons have no charge, and electrons have a negative charge. Atoms differ by having different amounts of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN ATOM (all you need is a group of kids!) Procedure
Assign a couple students to be protons, a couple to be neutrons, and a couple to be electrons
2) Have the protons and neutrons stand close together in a tight circle (these students represent the nucleus)
Have the electrons run around the nucleus (like planets orbiting the sun)
This week students will learn all about acids and bases. Acids and bases are everywhere including liquids you drink, fruits, and even in your body. Scientists use something called the “pH” scale to measure how acidic or basic a liquid is. The scale goes from “0″ to “14″ with 7 being neutral (distilled water is an example). Acids typically range between “0″ and “7″ and bases range from “7″ to “14.”
Here are some common bases: baking soda, borax, ammonia
Here are some common acids: vinegar, lemon juice, battery acid
Let’s make some “Invisible Ink!” Materials
Q-tips, toothpicks, or small brushes
1) Mix about 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water.
2) Write using a q-tip, toothpick, or brush on a piece of paper.
3) Let it dry completely (the ink must dry completely before the message is revealed).
4) To read the secret message, paint grape juice concentrate across the paper with a paint brush or a sponge. Don’t forget grape juice stains.
Why does this work? Grape juice has an acid that reacts with the baking soda. A different color appears where ever the secret message is written.
This week the students will learn all about polymers. Polymers are very large molecules, formed by repeated patterns of chemical units strung together. A polymer (which in Greek means “many parts”) is a big group of smaller molecules that are all hooked together, like a chain of paper clips.
Although “polymer” might bring to mind rubber or slime, did you know that there are polymers all around us, including inside of our bodies? DNA, which is the “blueprint” for cellular reproduction, is a naturally occurring polymer. Amoebas and white blood cells cells use natural polymers for locomotion. The protein casein, in cow’s milk is a polymer as well. Other natural polymers are cellulose and starch. Bone, horn, cotton, silk, rubber, paper, and leather all come from naturally occurring polymers!
There are also manufactured polymers, which have many uses in our society. It’s hard to imagine our world without plastics, styrofoam, or milk and juice containers. Fabrics such as rayon and polyester polystyrene (used in styrofoam coffee cups), and PVC (used in pipes) are common examples of these synthetic polymers.
Watch the video below to learn how to make your own gak!
This week, our students will be learning about density. Everything we can touch and see is made up of atoms: tiny building blocks that fit together like legos. Denisty describes how close together the atoms are, and how much space is between them. In other words, density is a way of measuring how compact something is. If you divide how much mass an object has by how much space the object takes up, you get the object’s density. (Density = Mass/Volume or D=M/V)
Some local history…
In January 1848, James Marshal found the first piece of gold in California. It was a pea-sized nugget that he found in the tailrace of Sutter’s Mull in Coloma, California. He wanted to keep this a secret, but Sutter of Sutter’s Mill was forced to share this information whith General Vallejo, who informed the rest of the United States, and hence drove thousands of people to California in search of fortune and fame. This is why the Gold Rush did not begin until the following year, 1949. Gold is denser than most other river elements. The gold pans and sluice boxes used to collect massive amounts of river sediments all operate under the same principle – that the gold would sink to the bottom of the pan and all other less dense minerals would wash away. Eureka!
Tree Frog Treks offers programs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for children ages 4 & up including adventure day camps, school programming, birthday parties, Kid's Play Night (our enriching childcare), community events, and much more.
At every Tree Frog Treks event, your children will meet live animals, create science and art projects, and explore the outdoors.
Check out our website http://www.treefrogtreks.com